The liability of a person sitting on the mud-guard of a tractor is not required to be covered by statutory insurance policy, as contemplated by sub-section (1) of Section 147 of the M.V. Act. this was held in GADHILINGAPPA @ GADHILINGA and Ors v. K. GULEPPA and connected matters [IN MFA.CROB No.100001 OF 2016 and connected matters] in the High Court of Karnataka by the full bench consisting of CHIEF JUSTICE MR.ABHAY S. OKA, MR.JUSTICE H.T. NARENDRA PRASAD and MR. JUSTICE HEMANT CHANDANGOUDAR.
Facts are that A learned Single Judge of the Court, by the Judgment and order dated 2nd January, 2018 disposed of multiple MFA. There were conflicting decisions rendered by the co-ordinate Benches of this Court, they needed to be referred to a larger Bench. The question required to be referred to a larger Bench of the Court was whether a person travelling on a mud-guard of a tractor can be construed as an authorized passenger or an unauthorized passenger and liability of such person is covered or not.
The Court made reference to the Road Regulations framed by the Central Government, Regulation 28 of the Road Regulations which deals with the driving of tractors and goods vehicles. The rule state that under “28. Driving of tractors and goods vehicles – A driver when driving a tractor shall not carry or allow any person to be carried on the tractor. A driver of goods carriage shall not carry in the driver’s cabin more number of persons than that is mentioned in the Registration Certificate and shall not carry passengers for hire or reward.”
The Court also made reference to the judgement of Apex court in Shivaraj –vs- Rajendra and another wherein the court observed that “Thus, it would follow that the appellant travelled in the tractor as a passenger, even though the tractor could accommodate only one person, namely, the driver. As a result, the Insurance Company (Respondent 2) was not liable for the loss or injuries suffered by the appellant or to indemnify the owner of the tractor. That conclusion reached by the High Court, in our opinion, is unexceptionable in the fact situation of the present case.”
The Court also made reference to judgment of Apex court in The New India Insurance Company –vs- Darshana Devi and others, and made the following observation, “The Apex Court has considered its various decisions including the decision rendered in the case of Asha Rani (supra). The perusal of the findings recorded in paragraph 13 to 19 of the said decision shows that the Apex Court was of the considered view that the liability of such a passenger was not required to be covered by a policy of insurance. However, the Apex Court declined to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, considering the fact that the deceased was a labourer.”
Considering the precedents and the facts of the case the court held that, there was no manner of doubt that liability of a person working either on the ploughing or crushing machines attached to the tractor and who is traveling on the mud-guard of the tractor is not required to be covered by the statutory insurance as contemplated under sub-section (1) of Section 147 of the M.V. Act.