Sunday, December 17, 2023

Insurance Company Has No Contractual Or Other Relationship With Transferee Of Offending Vehicle: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court has observed that an Insurance Company has no contractual or other relationship with the transferee of the offending vehicle in a road accident.

“The registered owner cannot absolve himself of the liability by contending that he had transferred the offending vehicle to a third person before the date of the accident,” Justice Navin Chawla said.

The court observed that the Insurance Company merely steps in as an indemnifier of the compensation which the registered owner of the Offending Vehicle, as being a primary person liable, has to pay to the victims of the road accident.

“Neither the victims of the road accident nor the Insurance Company can run after such persons whom the registered owner claims to have transferred the offending vehicle, and cannot be burdened with following a trail of successive transfers, which are not registered with the Registering Authority,” the court said.

It added: “If the registered owner of the offending vehicle is to seek any benefit of such contract in the form of indemnifying himself against the liability, such registered owner is also liable to reimburse the compensation that may be paid by the Insurance Company to the victims of the road accident if the Insurance Company is otherwise entitled to the same”

The court made the observations while dealing with two appeals filed by the registered owner of a motorcycle and a boy who was driving it, which hit a woman who later succumbed to the injuries.

They challenged an order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal vide which compensation of Rs.15,49,324 was granted in favour of the claimants and the Insurance Company, National Insurance Company Limited, was directed to pay the same at the first instance.

The tribunal also granted a right to the Insurance Company to recover the compensation amount from the registered owner of motorcycle and the boy was driving it at the time of the accident.

Noting that the motorcycle was being driven by a minor at the time of the accident, Justice Chawla said that the registered owner of the vehicle cannot absolve himself of his responsibility merely by contending that he had sold the bike before that date when he took no further steps to get the fact of such sale registered with the Registration Authority or intimate it to the Registration Authority and the Insurance Company.

“If such a registered owner has allowed a third person, maybe under a contract of sale, to use the vehicle, he remains responsible for his action. If such a third person further allows a minor or a person not holding a valid driving license to drive the vehicle, vicariously, the registered owner becomes responsible for such action of the third party,” the court said.

Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal filed by the registered owner of the motorcycle. It set aside the Impugned Award allowing the Insurance Company to seek reimbursement of the claim amount from the minor boy.

Friday, December 8, 2023

S.498A IPC - Bail Condition That Husband Should Resume Conjugal Life With Wife Can't Be Imposed: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court observed that while granting anticipatory bail to the accused husband under Section 498A of the IPC, a condition that the husband shall take his wife to his house and maintain and honour her, cannot be imposed.

A Division Bench of Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma was hearing the matter.

In the present case, the accused husband (appellant) had applied for anticipatory bail before the High Court of Jharkhand, Ranchi Bench. Though the High Court had granted bail to the husband, it imposed a peculiar condition. As per the same, the husband was required to take his wife to his home and maintain her with dignity and honour. For convenience, the same reads as follows:

Accordingly, the petitioner is directed to surrender in the Court within six weeks from today and in the event of his arrest or surrendering, he will be enlarged on bail on satisfying the trial court that the petitioner has taken the opposite party no.2 to his house at Bandra locality of Ranchi and keeping and maintaining her with full dignity and honour as his lawful wife.”

According to this, the husband again approached the High Court, praying for modification of the above order. In a petition filed (for modification of order), the husband contended that he had hired a house and was ready to maintain his wife. Per contra, the wife contended that she was willing to resume her marital life provided that her husband joined her in their own house. However, the High Court dismissed his plea while observing that the appellant is resolute in not resuming his life with his wife at his own house.

In view of the adamant attitude of the appellant in not resuming the conjugal life with the opposite party No.2 in the house of the appellant, where the opposite party No.2 was staying, his petition could not be considered.,” the High Court held.

Against this backdrop, the matter travelled to the Apex Court. The Court categorically opined that such a condition cannot be imposed while granting anticipatory bail. Additionally, this condition should not be a reason for rejecting the appellant's petition.

In our opinion, neither such condition should have been imposed by the High Court while granting an anticipatory bail, nor such could be a ground for rejection of the petition filed by the appellant.”

while setting aside the impugned order, the Court granted bail to the accused.

S.138 NI Act | Availability Of Funds In Other Bank Accounts Not A Defence; Cheque Dishonour Relates To Specific Account: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on December 04 categorically held that in proceedings initiated for bounced cheques (under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act), the defence that there are sufficient funds in the other bank accounts cannot be appreciated.

In a proceeding under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, the accused cannot rely upon other bank accounts for the dishonoured cheque which relates to the specific bank account of the accused," held the bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol.

The complainant/ respondent filed complaints for the dishonour of different cheques issued by the same accused. As per the case of the complainant, he invested various amounts from time to time in the company of the accused. The investment was made on the assurance given by the accused that the complainant would receive a certain amount of money. Consequently, to discharge his liability, the accused handed over several cheques to the complainant.

However, when deposited, one of the cheques was returned unpaid due to insufficiency of funds. After receiving no response from the complainant, the accused filed a complaint under the relevant section of the NI Act. Additionally, the offence of cheating under IPC was also included. The trial court convicted the appellant and passed directions concerning the compensation. The same was challenged before the High Court. Though the High Court modified the sentence, it did not interfere with the conviction. In this background, the matter came before the Apex Court.

The Court took objection to this argument. The Court stated that when the cheques were issued, the appellant did not have sufficient funds.

It is seen from the impugned judgment itself that although ten cheques totalling a sum of Rupees Eighty Lakhs was issued by the petitioner, at the relevant point of time, the concerned bank account had a maximum deposit of Rs. 18,52,033/.”

Further, the counsel's argument related to the availability of funds with the appellant in different bank accounts did not find favour with the Court. As mentioned above, the Court held the accused cannot rely upon other bank accounts for the dishonoured cheque which relates to the specific bank account.

Accordingly, the argument advanced by Mr. Maninder Singh, learned Senior Counsel of having adequate funds by reference to the other bank accounts of the company, cannot be of any assistance to the accused.,”

The Court dismissed the appeal.