In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court, held that the adjudicating tribunal has to analyze evidence and pleading to ascertain whether the vehicle owner was aware that the driving license of the driver was fake, before absolving the liability of the insurer.
The said ruling was delivered in the matter of Ram Chandra Singh vs. Rajaram & ors., Civil Appeal No. 8145 of 2018 decided on 14.08.2018.
The Appellant/Vehicle owner filed a Special Leave Petition, impugning the judgment dated 28.11.2016 of High Court of Judicature at Allahabad wherein the High Court had observed in first appeal that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal was right in holding that the insurer was not liable as the driver had a fake license. The MAC Tribunal partly allowed the claim petition and awarded compensation to the tune of Rs. 6,27,000/- and directed the insurer to pay the compensation amount, with liberty to recover the same from the vehicle owner/Appellant and the driver jointly and severally. The appeal of the vehicle owner before the High Court was dismissed as the Appellant did not dispute that the driving license of the driver was fake and no evidence was adduced before the Court to show that the driving license was genuine.
The Apex Court observed, after perusing the pleadings and evidence on record, that no attempt was made by the Tribunal to analyze the pleadings to ascertain whether the Appellant was aware of the fake driving license of his driver. The Tribunal only adverted to the investigation and verification report and found that the stated driving license was invalid.
It was held that if the owner was aware of the fact that the license was fake and still permitted the driver to drive the vehicle, them the insurer stands absolved. However, the mere fact that the license is fake, per se, would not absolve the insurer.