Can't presume person competent to drive four wheeler also knows riding two wheeler: HC

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Representative Image / File Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has rejected the presumption of a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal that a man who is competent to drive a four wheeler cannot be expected to be incompetent to ride a two wheeler and allowed an insurance firm to recover money from an offending driver in an accident case.

The high court said it failed to appreciate as to how a person who can drive a four wheeler can be automatically presumed to be competent to ride a two wheeler as well.

“On the other hand, the skills required for driving a two wheeler are quite different from those required for driving a four wheeler. Driving a two wheeler would require balancing of the vehicle which would not at all be relevant for driving a commercial vehicle which is much larger in size.

"It appears that the trial court has failed to appreciate that under the Motor Vehicles Act, a light motor vehicle (LMV) and a two wheeler have been placed in two distinct categories. Merely because respondent no. 2 (driver) held a valid licence for a light motor vehicle could not imply that he was authorised or competent to drive a two wheeler,” Justice Rekha Palli said.

The judge said the presumption of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) that a male who is competent to drive an LMV (commercial) could not be expected to be incompetent to drive a two wheeler, is in my view, wholly without any basis.

The high court set aside the award passed by the MACT where it had refused to grant recovery rights to the insurance company against the driver/ owner of a two-wheeler involved in an accident.

While rejecting the insurance company's contention that it was not liable to pay anything as the rider was not holding a valid licence to drive the two wheeler, the MACT had said that a male person who is competent to drive an LMV cannot be expected to be incompetent in driving a two wheeler.

In an appeal filed before the high court against the order of the tribunal, the insurance company argued that in view of the unrebutted testimony of the record clerk from the Sarai Kale Khan Transport Authority here, it was clear that the driver did not have a valid licence to drive a two wheeler, and thus, the terms and conditions of the insurance policy stood breached.

The high court said it was evident that the offending vehicle, a motor cycle was being driven by a person who did not have a driving licence and therefore, it was a clear case where there was a breach of the terms and conditions of the insurance policy.

Consequently, the finding of the tribunal that the insurance firm was liable to pay the compensation is “unsustainable” and is set aside, it said. PTI

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