The High Court has power of an appeal against the award of the tribunal, under section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act filed by a person aggrieved but that would not mean that against an order of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which is not an award, the writ of certiorari would not lie.
The present writ petition was filed against an order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal raising a question as to whether a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India would be maintainable against the order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal keeping in view of the judgment of the Apex Court in Civil Appeal No. 2548 of 2009 Radhey Shyam & another vs. Chhabi Nath & Ors., wherein it was held that the judicial orders of Civil Court are not amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
It was contended that in the above decision a distinction has been carved out between the Civil Court and a Tribunal as per which the orders of Civil Court stand on a different footing from the orders of a Tribunal. It was further the submission that as per Section 165 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (Act), the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal is a statutory Tribunal established by the State Government. Section 168 provides the manner in which the Claim Tribunal has to proceed to decide compensation claim application filed under Section 166 of the Act. The procedure prescribed therein is a summary procedure. Section 169 provides for powers and procedures of the Claim Tribunal as per which powers of a Civil Court are available to the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal to a limited extent i.e. having powers of a Civil Court for the purposes of taking evidence, enforcing attendance of witnesses, compelling to produce documents, and material object and for such other purposes as may be prescribed. In the case of U.P. State Road Transport Corporation vs. Janki Devi & Ors. (AIR 1982 Allahabad 296) it was also held that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal is not a Court but is a Statutory Tribunal.
It was observed that the referred question in Radhey Shyam case was to decided as to whether the view taken in Surya Devi Rai case [2003(6) SCC 625] that the writ under Article 226 of the Constitution of India lies against the order of Civil Court is the correct view or not. In view of the judgment passed by nine judges bench in Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar and Ors. vs. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1967 SC 1), the referring Bench observed which made a distinction was made between judicial orders of inferior Courts of Civil Jurisdiction and orders of inferior tribunals or Court which are not Civil courts and which cannot pass judicial orders. Therefore, judicial orders passed by Civil courts of plenary jurisdiction stand on a different footing. In Radhey shyam case it was held that the judicial orders of an inferior Court of plenary jurisdiction stand on a different footing from the orders of authorities or the tribunal and are not amenable to correctness in a writ of certiorari. It was held that the correctness of the judgment of a Civil Court can be examined under Article 227 of the Constitution of India in its supervisory jurisdiction by the High Court within its limited course.
On the next question that had come up was to determine as to whether the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which are judicial tribunal can be termed as Civil Court it was held that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal are the statutory tribunal and have been created with the specific purpose and objective of the Motor Vehicles Act. Certain provisions contained in the Code of Civil Procedure though are applicable to limited extent, however, this does not mean that the tribunal would answer the description of the Civil Court. The High Court has power of an appeal against the award of the tribunal, under section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act filed by a person aggrieved but that would not mean that against an order of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which is not an award, the writ of certiorari would not lie. The statutory tribunal created under an Act is not a Civil Court of plenary jurisdiction and hence a writ of certiorari against the order of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, not being an award, would be maintainable under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
In the present matter, the writ petition was filed against an order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal against which a review application was filed on the ground that a fraud was committed by the claimant and the alleged accident was planted in connivance with the owner, who chose not to contest the proceedings, in an effort to obtain insurance money illegally. The review application was dismissed on the ground that there was no power with the tribunal to review. It was held that there is no dispute about the fact against the award of Motor Accident Claim Tribunal, Insurance company can file an appeal under section 173 of the Act. Moreover, there is no provision of review in the Motor Vehicles Act and the Tribunal become functous officio after declaration of the award. The order dismissing review was held to be correct as the Insurance company would have to challenge the award before the competent court of law.
[The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. vs. Dharmendra and Anr.]
(Allahabad HC, 12.05.2015 – Writ-C No. 15845 of 2015)