Earlier, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Salem, in March 2009 dismissed the claim petition after the police filed a report of ‘mistake of fact.’

The Madras High Court has come to the rescue of a 34-year-old man who suffered permanent disability after a jeep hit his vehicle eight years ago, by awarding a compensation of Rs.2,00,800 with 7.5 per cent interest.

Earlier, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Salem, in March 2009 dismissed the claim petition after the police filed a report of ‘mistake of fact.’

Setting aside the tribunal’s order, Justice S.Vimala directed the authorities to deposit the sum within six weeks. After the sum is deposited, the claimant could withdraw it.

The Judge said the tribunal is expected to peruse the oral and documentary evidence adduced before it and come to an independent conclusion. It should adopt a proactive approach. It was vested with powers to call anybody to ascertain any fact and arrive at the correct conclusion. Instead of actively involving itself in ascertaining the truth, the tribunal just accepted the police’s report.

On August 28, 2005, Baskar was riding his motorcycle near the fourth hairpin bend on Yercaud Main Road when a jeep belonging to one A.Balamurugan of A.R.Police Line, Namakkal, hit him. He suffered multiple fractures. He filed a petition seeking compensation. The tribunal by relying on the jeep driver’s evidence and by accepting the police report under which the case was referred to as ‘mistake of fact’ dismissed the claim. Hence, the present appeal challenging the tribunal’s order.

Mrs.Justice Vimala said the only line written by the tribunal was ‘mistake of fact of law.’ What were the facts, what was the mistake and what was the law had not been explained. Whether it was a mistake of law or mistake of fact or a combination of both had not been given. Thus, the order dismissing the claim petition could not be justified.

The Judge referring to the evidence tendered that the accident took place at a small hair pin bend while the jeep was coming down and the victim was going up said it was comparatively difficult to pick up speed while moving up. It was quite easy to drive fast while coming down.

Therefore, it was probable that only the jeep would have been driven in a rash and negligent manner. Also, it was not possible to stop the jeep suddenly, especially when it was negotiating a curve.

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