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In motor accident cases involving two vehicles, contributory negligence can’t be established, solely relying on the scene mahazar: High Court of Kerala

The Kerala High Court, through learned judge, Justice Badharudeen in the case T.A Ansad v. Sanjay Kumar Thunjhunwala & Ors. (MACA NO. 2599 OF 2010), held that in motor accident cases involving two vehicles, contributory negligence can’t be established, solely relying on the scene mahazar, ignoring the police charge which attributes negligence only against one driver.

FACTS OF THE CASE: The petitioner who suffered injuries on account of a motor vehicle approached the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal and claimed compensation of Rs.2,32,500/- attributing negligence against the respondent, who was the driver of the other vehicle. The Insurance Company disputed the accident by denying negligence against the second respondent and alleged contributory negligence on the part of the petitioner. In agreement with the claims raised by the insurance company, the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal charged the petitioner on account of contributory negligence and fixed the contributory negligence at 50%. The petitioner in this appeal challenged the award of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal dated 22.06.2010.

Learned Counsel for the petitioner submitted that even though the Police laid charge against the respondent, the learned Tribunal found contributory negligence on the part of the petitioner and thereby fixed the contributory negligence at 50% solely relying on the recitals in the scene Mahazar found without insisting for convincing evidence to hold so. The Learned Counsel for the petitioner opposed the finding of the Tribunal in the matter of contributory negligence and stated that it was erroneous and liable to be set aside. Although the learned Counsel of the Insurance company tried to repudiate these contentions, they failed to justify 50% contributory negligence on the part of the petitioner.

JUDGEMENT: The court held that in this pertinent case, the tribunal gave much emphasis to the recitals in the scene mahazar to disbelieve the police charge and to find contributory negligence against the petitioner. In cases of collision of vehicles, contributory negligence cannot be completely ruled out, but in order to establish it, evidence is necessary. The court observed “in cases where the police charge attributes negligence against the driver of one vehicle involved, unless there is no other independent evidence adduced or available to prove the contributory negligence, mere recitals in the scene mahazar would not suffice”. The court closed the petition by holding that the fixing of 50% contributory negligence against the petitioner by the Tribunal was illegal and hence, it was to be accordingly set aside.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – AMRUTHA K

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