Supreme Court directs consumer-friendly settlement of motor accident claims
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) J.K. Sud has sought time to work out the time frame within which the directions of the court can be implemented and also for the creation of the necessary infrastructure for the purpose.
The Supreme Court (SC) has come to the aid of motor accident claimants who normally have to run from pillar to post to get compensation from various insurance companies.
A bench of the Apex Court comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy last week directed the government to develop a consumer-friendly mechanism by adopting technology for faster settlement of claims, including initiating online payment mode and email communication.
The bench suggested a better communication deployment system between the police, insurance companies and the tribunals which deal with cases related to motor accidents.
Appearing on behalf of the Union of India, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) J.K. Sud sought time to work out the time frame within which the directions of the court can be implemented and also for the creation of the necessary infrastructure for the purpose.
The SC gave its nod to a slew of directions for the adoption of a uniform practice across the country.
"The jurisdictional police station shall report the accident under Section 158(6) of the Act (Section 159 post-2019 amendment) to the tribunal and the insurer within first 48 hours either over email or a dedicated website," was one of the suggestions of ASG Sud.
"We must notice at the inception that considerable work has occurred on account of the inter se discussion between the stakeholders, coordinated by Jayant K. Sudwe to appreciate the positive attitude of all the stakeholders to streamline the process," the SC bench observed.
The ASG further suggested that for a detailed accident report the tribunal shall issue summons along with the report or the application for compensation, as the case may be, to the insurer by email.
The ASG also proposed an online platform that is accessible to the tribunals, police authorities and insurers across the country.
The Top Court expressed its satisfaction that the states of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of 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/website for submission of accident report under Section 159.
The SC, however, wanted an integrated national system in place instead of each state government having an independent online platform for submission of accident reports, claims and responses to claims, saying such a system would hamper efficient adjudication of the claims.
"Therefore, the Central Government shall develop an online platform accessible to the tribunals, police authorities and insurers throughout India," the Apex Court said.
The Supreme Court also said that after the accident, the police should collect and verify the relevant documents for computation of compensation.
"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," the SC bench noted.
After passing the award, the insurer should get an authenticated copy by email, the Top Court said, adding that it should satisfy the award by depositing the amount into a bank account maintained by the tribunal by the RTGS or NEFT.
The Supreme Court has listed May 4 for further hearing in the matter after receiving inputs on how the Government of India intends to go about it, make mechanism for payment of compensation a hassle-free and smooth operation.