Chandigarh, December 6, 2017
The High Court in Punjab and Haryana has ruled that vehicle insurance is applicable to vehicles that are registered and insured in India yet have met with accidents in another country. The insurance company in that case is liable to pay the claim, reported Press Trust of India.
The order came about in light of the compensation sought by the kin of the 54 pilgrims that lost their lives on 18th June, 1995 in Nepal. The bus fell into the Trishuli Nadi after the driver lost control of the bus. The pilgrims were from Kurukshetra, the relatives of one of which were to receive Rs 4.34 lakhs from the bus owners as directed by the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal. In protest of that, the owners filed an appeal with the HC as the tribunal had absolved the insurance company stating that the accident took place in Nepal and therefore it wasn’t liable.
The HC on the other hand took a different approach to the situation as Justice Rajbir Sehrawat observed, “Once insured, the vehicle is insured to cover all geographical areas where the vehicle is authorized by the authorities to travel. The insurance company cannot avoid its liability to pay the compensation only on the ground that the vehicle was used in any particular city, state or a particular geographical area. The company cannot even avoid its liability qua third party.”
Justice Sehrawat also stated that the Motor Vehicles Act as per its Section 1 extends only to all of India and not any territory outside of it. However the court observed that this rationale does not exempt the insurance company from liability arising from the usage of the vehicle outside the geographical area of the Union of India. This section also implies that the Act would be applicable to all the citizens and subjects of India.