Holding the driver and the deceased equally responsible for a head-on collision between two two-wheelers, the Delhi High Court has divided the payment of compensation to the victim's family between the vehicle owner and the insurance company.

Modifying an order of a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal here which had directed the vehicle owner to pay the total compensation amount holding him solely responsible for the accident, Justice S.N. Dhingra said the insurance company and the vehicle owner would share it equally as the accident was caused due to contributory negligence by both parties.

The Tribunal had held the owner of the vehicle solely responsible for the mishap on the ground that he was driving his two-wheeler without a valid licence. The vehicle was being driven by the son of the vehicle owner which amounted to breach of the terms of insurance cover, the Tribunal held.

However, Justice Dhingra disagreed with the Tribunal's order saying that the deceased was no less responsible for the accident as he had taken a sharp a U-turn through an unauthorised cut in the middle of the road.

The Tribunal had given a compensation of Rs.5.98 lakh to the victim's family which consists of the widow, her two children and the parents of the victim. The Court modified it to Rs.5.24 lakh.

Justice Dhingra passed the judgment on an appeal by the owner of the vehicle, Ram Sagar, against the Tribunal's order on the ground that the victim, Rahis, was solely responsible for the accident.

He further argued that his son, Vimal Dubey, had taken out the vehicle without his consent.

“A person taking turn from an unauthorised cut has to be more careful and must stop at the cut and watch if any vehicle was coming from the other side. If a person on scooter takes a turn suddenly and tries to cross the road from unauthorised cut to reach the other end of the road, he behaves in a negligent manner and does not perform his duty to be vigil before crossing the road on scooter,'' Justice Dhingra said.

“No doubt, the driver of the offending vehicle was not having a driving licence but that does not mean that the deceased had no duty to follow the rules, and even if he was negligent, the entire responsibility of the accident has to be thrown on the person not having a driving licence. The accident could have taken place with any vehicle being driven by a licensed driver since the manner in which the road was being crossed from an unauthorised cut… without caring for incoming vehicles; it was dangerous and prone to accident.

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