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The evidence which is recorded before the Tribunal has to be given weightage over the contents of the First Information Report: Supreme Court of India

If any evidence before the Tribunal runs contrary to the contents in the First Information Report, the evidence which is recorded before the Tribunal has to be given weightage over the contents of the First Information Report as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court thorugh the learned bench of Justice R. Subhash Reddy in the case of National Insurance Company Ltd Vs Chamundeswari & Ors [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6151 OF 2021] (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.4705 of 2019).

The 1st Respondent is wife and the 2nd Respondent is minor son of the deceased Mr. Subhash Babu, who died in a road accident on 14.10.2013. The deceased Mr. Subhash Babu, aged about 35 years was working as Manager HR in a Private Limited Company. On the date of accident, he was driving Maruti car on main road. At that time, the Eicher van was proceeding in front of the car driven by the deceased. It is the case of the respondents–claimants that all of a sudden, the driver of Eicher van has turned towards right side without giving any signal or indicator. In the said accident, driver of the Maruti car, Mr. Subhash Babu, died.

In the Claim Petition, filed by the Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, respondents claimed compensation of Rs.3 crores. The Claims Tribunal vide order dated 11.12.2017 passed in M.C.O.P. No.842 of 2014 has allowed the claim partly and awarded compensation of Rs.10,40,500/-. On appeal, the High Court by recording a finding that accident occurred only due to the negligence of the driver of the Eicher van and the annual income of the deceased was Rs.12,29,949/-, has awarded a total compensation of Rs.1,85,08,832/-, including the compensation on conventional heads. Aggrieved by the judgment and order of the High Court, the Insurance Company filed this Appeal before Supreme Court.

Learned Counsel for the appellant, Mr. K. K. Bhat, submitted that the First Information Report, it was categorically mentioned that accident occurred only due to negligence by the deceased. In spite of the same, such important documentary evidence is ignored by the High Court. On the other hand, Mr. V. Balaji, learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the accident occurred only due to the sheer negligence on the part of the driver of Eicher van and in view of the oral and the documentary evidence on record, a just compensation is awarded by the High Court and there are no grounds to interfere with the same.

The hon’ble Supreme Court while observing the evidence on record stated that “It is clear from the evidence on record of PW–1 as well as PW–3 that the Eicher van which was going in front of the car, has taken a sudden right turn without giving any signal or indicator. The evidence of PW–1 & PW–3 is categorical and in absence of any rebuttal evidence by examining the driver of Eicher van, the High Court has rightly held that the accident occurred only due to the negligence of the driver of Eicher van.” and in view of such evidence on record, there is no reason to give weightage to the contents of the First Information Report.

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Judgment Reviewed by – Aryan Bajaj

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