Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Delhi High Court Upholds Recovery Of Compensation From Underage Driver’s Father In Road Accident Case

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The Delhi High Court has dismissed an appeal challenging the grant of recovery rights to an insurer against the registered owner of the car whose son was involved in a road accident leading to the death of a 42 year old man in 2013.

Justice Rekha Palli said the 42-year-old man lost his life only because the minor's father did not take appropriate steps to ensure that his vehicle is driven only by a person holding a valid driving licence.

"This Court, therefore, cannot condone such an act of the appellant and fasten the liability on the insurance company when it is evident that the terms of the insurance policy were breached by the appellant himself," the court said.

Justice Palli further observed that when the parents of minor children permit them to drive a motor vehicle, they not only put the lives of their own children in danger but also endanger the life of common citizens. 

"In the present case, the deceased Mr. Harinder Kumar, a young man of 42 years lost his life only because the appellant did not take appropriate steps to ensure that his vehicle is driven only by a person holding a valid driving licence”, the Court remarked," it added.

A Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in Rohini in November 2021 awarded a compensation of Rs.16,32,700 in favour of Kumar's wife and daughter. The tribunal in the order also said that the insurance company would have the right to recover the amount from the registered owner in appropriate proceedings as per law. It observed that that car owner by permitting his minor son to drive the vehicle, acted in breach of the terms of the insurance policy.

Referring to the award passed by the MACT, the court observed that the plea that his minor son had taken the car without his permission was not raised by the appellant/registered owner of the car either before the concerned police authority or the Juvenile Justice Board. 

“Once the appellant, despite being aware that his son was a minor child, left the keys of his car at home and has failed to give any explanation as to why the keys of the car at home were left unattended when he himself was not there, the defence being taken by the appellant is apparently an afterthought in an attempt to somehow to escape his liability," the court observed. 

The court added that the appellant did not lead any independent witness before the MACT in support of his plea that the car was driven by his minor son without his knowledge and permission.

It thus upheld the award of the Tribunal and dismissed the appeal.

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