Motor Accident Claims Tribunal – powers and functions

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal

  1. Introduction

The motor accident claims tribunal or the MACT is the phenomenon started by the civil courts to ensure that the cases related to motor vehicles are speedily carried out. India is a country where the cases are more, and the civil courts are less. This causes the bunch of cases to remain pending and justice is often delayed. With the introduction of something as useful as the motor vehicle accident claims tribunal, justice can be served faster. This will result in lesser number of pending cases.

The motor vehicles claims tribunal was created under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. It was formed to deal with cases relating to motor vehicle accident. This phenomenon removes the jurisdiction from the civil courts. Appeals from the claim tribunals are entertained in the High Court for a period of ninety days even after expiry or lapsing of time. This is mentioned under the section 173. The Motor accident claims tribunal is concerned with the loss of life or property by the motor accident. There are MACT courts which are presided over by the Judicial Officers from Delhi Higher Judicial Service. The claims are directly filed in the concerned tribunal. These courts are under direct supervision of the Hon’ble High Courts of various States.

Let us briefly discuss the basis which forms the Motor accident claims tribunal. The Motor accident claims tribunal is based on the Motor Vehicles Act,1988. This act is a legislation that deals with enhancing the road safety and also ensuring it. It also aims to serve the purpose of prevention of injury or loss of life which occurs due to motor accidents. And this act also serves the purpose of providing compensation to the claimant who has rightly suffered any kind of loss due to motor vehicle accident.  Section 2 of the Act defines “owner” as “a person in whose name a motor vehicle stands registered, and where such person is a person is a minor, guardian of such minor, and in relation to a motor vehicle which is the subject of a hire-purchase, agreement or an agreement of lease or an agreement of hypothecation, the person in possession of the vehicle under agreement.”

Another important thing that must be noted is the fact that who exactly can claim compensation. Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 mentions that any person who has suffered injury, or owner of the damaged property, or any legal representative of the deceased who died in the accident; can claim the compensation under this Act. Also, the duly authorised agent of the legal representative can claim the compensation for the deceased who died in the accident. And the claim petition can be filed in the Claims Tribunal which is having jurisdiction over the area where the claimant resides, or carries business or, the claims tribunal must be within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant resides.

  1. Functions:

Some of functions fulfilled by the motor accident claims tribunal are:

Grant proper compensation in cases of injury or loss, or even death due to cases resulting from Motor Accidents. To provide faster and speedy justice. To ensure fair verdicts and decisions by the Judicial Officers.

  1. Powers:

Some powers of the claims tribunal include-

  • “In holding any inquiry under section 168, the Claims tribunal may, subject to any rules that may be made in this behalf, follow such summary procedure as it thinks fit. “
  • Talking about the powers of the claims tribunal, it is noteworthy to mention that section 169 of the motor vehicles act gives the claims tribunal the powers of the civil courts and a position equal to it.
  • The claims tribunal may also call the persons of knowledge of the ongoing case for inquiry. Subject to any rules that may be made in this behalf, the claims tribunal may call these people for the purpose of adjudicating upon the any claim for compensation.
  1. Case laws:

Kailash Chandra Sharma vs E. Gurunath And Ors. on 17 January, 2007

“After perusal of the provisions of Section 169 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 I find that the Court has, undoubtedly, wide powers while deciding the procedure for deciding claim cases and as per Sub-section (2) of Section 169, the Tribunal shall be deemed to be a civil Court for all the purposes of Section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. From reading of this section, it appears that for recording evidence, the Tribunal has wide powers, but such powers are to be exercised by the Tribunal for doing justice to the party.”

Krishna Reddy vs K. Ramulamma And Others on 15 July, 1994

“There is no merit in any of the two contentions advanced on behalf of the petitioner. Section 169 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 deals with procedure and powers of the Claims Tribunals. Sub-section (1) of’Section 169 provides that”in holding any enquiry under Section 168, the Claims Tribunal may, subject to any rules that may be made in that behalf, follow such summary procedure as it thinks fit. Sub-section (2) of Section 169 of the Act further provides that the Claims Tribubal shall have all the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and of compelling discovery and production of documents and material objects and for such other purposes as may be prescribed; and Claims Tribunal shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for all the purposes of Section 195 and Chapter 26 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Act 2 of 1974).”

Smt. Krishna Devi And Ors. vs Hardev Singh And Ors. on 18 August, 1998

“In a motor vehicle accident two claimants claimed Rs. 30,000/- and Rs. 15,000/- respectively. Instead of granting full claim of the claimants in both the petitions, the Tribunal assessed damages at lower figures in both the claim petitions and assessed the amounts payable by all the opponents.”

Author: Vaishnavi Makne,
Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur

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