SC passes directions for speedy disposal of accident claims, insurers to deposit amount in tribunal a/c

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) The Supreme Court has issued a slew of directions for police, Motor Accident Claim Tribunals and insurance firms nationwide to streamline the payment of compensation to the victims of road mishaps, saying insurers will have to deposit the amount to the accounts maintained by judicial tribunals.

The apex court, in its directions passed on March 16, gave thrust on using information technology tools by all stakeholders such as police, MACTs, insurers and claimants for ensuring speedy disposal of claim cases and the payment of compensation to the victims of road accidents as well as their kith and kin.

A bench comprising justices S K Kaul and R Subhash Reddy directed that the central government develop an “online platform accessible to the tribunals, police authorities and insurers throughout India” for smooth and speedy disposal of accident cases.

The bench, which passed the directions on the plea Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, took note of the submissions of Additional Solicitor General Jayant K Sud, appearing for the Centre, that some more time may be required to work out the period within which the directions can be implemented by creating the necessary infrastructure and fixed the matter for further directions on May 4.

“The jurisdictional police station shall report the accident under Section 158(6) of the (Motor Vehicle) Act (Section 159 post 2019 amendment)… to the tribunal and insurer within first 48 hours either over email or a dedicated website,” the court directed on the reporting of the Accident Information Report.

Then police later file the detailed accident report after collecting the documents relevant to the accident and for computation of compensation and shall verify the information and documents, it said.

“These documents shall form part of the Report. It shall email the Report to the tribunal and the insurer within three months. Similarly the claimants may also be permitted to email the application for compensation with supporting documents, under Section 166 to the tribunal and the insurer within the same time,” it said.

The MACT shall issue summons along with the police's detailed report or the application for compensation, as the case may be, to the insurer by email, it said, adding “the insurer shall email their offer for settlement/response to the Report or the application for claim to the tribunal along with proof of service on the claimants.” After passing the award, the tribunal shall email an authenticated copy of the award to the insurer, it directed.

“The insurer shall satisfy the award by depositing the awarded amount into a bank account maintained by the tribunal by RTGS or NEFT. For this purpose the tribunal shall maintain a bank account and record the relevant account details along with the directions for payment to the insurer in the award itself,” it said.

Each MACT shall create an email ID peculiar to its jurisdiction for receiving the emails from the police and the insurer as mentioned above and similarly, all insurers throughout India shall also create an email ID peculiar to the jurisdiction of each claim tribunal, it said.

“These email IDs would be prominently displayed at the tribunal, the police stations and the office of the insurers for the benefit of the claimants. Similarly, these email IDS shall also be prominently displayed on the website maintained by the tribunal and the insurer,” it said.

Insurance firms will have to appoint nodal officers for each tribunal and provide their contact details, phone and mobile phone numbers, and email address to Director Generals of State Police and the tribunals, it said, making clear that all these directions would “apply across the country so that a uniform practice is followed”. The top court then said Tamil Nadu and Delhi have already progressed from having email accounts for submission of accident reports by the police to the tribunal and the insurer, to operating an online platform or website for submission of accident reports under the law.

“These online platforms/websites shall be suitably be modified for submission of claimants' application for compensation under Section 166 of the Act as well insurers' response to the accident report or the claim petition as the case may be,” it said.

Each state having an independent online platform for submission of accident reports, claims and responses to claims, will hamper efficient adjudication of claims, especially where the victim of the accident is not a resident of state where accident has occurred, it said. It added that the necessitated that the central government “shall develop an online platform accessible to the tribunals, police authorities and insurers throughout India”.

The top court, however, granted time to the Centre till May 4 on the issue of setting up of an online platform accessible for the entire country for accident claim disposal. PTI SJK MNL SA