1. As these appeals arise from the common award between the same parties, they are being considered and decided by this common judgment. The parties are, for the sake of convenience, referred to as per their status before the Tribunal.
2. The petitioners, namely, Abdul Rahiman and Noorudheen had filed O.P.(M.V) No.1526/2016 and 1527/2016, respectively, under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, claiming compensation on account of the injuries sustained to them in an accident on 15.06.2016. It was their common case in the two claim petitions that, on 15.06.2016, while Noorudheen was riding a motorcycle bearing registration No. KL AG 7134 with Abdul Rahiman on the pillion, along the Aluva-Angamaly National Highway road, a mini van bearing registration No.KL- 63/C-5882, driven by the second respondent in a negligent manner, hit the motorcycle. Both the rider and the pillion rider fell on the road and sustained injuries. The van was owned by the first respondent and insured with the third respondent. Hence, the petitioners claimed compensation from the respondents.
3. The first respondent had filed separate written statements in both the claim petitions denying negligence on the part of the second respondent. It was contended that the accident occurred due to the negligence of Noorudheen. Nonetheless, it was stated that, as the van was insured with the third respondent, it was the third respondent who was to indemnify the liability of the first respondent arising out of the accident.
4. The second respondent did not contest both the claim petitions and was set exparte.
5. The third respondent had filed separate written statements admitting that the van had a valid insurance coverage. Nevertheless, it was contended that the second respondent did not hold a valid driving license to drive the van, the police had charge sheeted him for offence under Section 3(1) r/w Section 181 of the Motor Vehicles Act. Therefore, the first respondent had violated the insurance policy conditions. Hence, the third respondent may be exonerated of its liability.
6. The Tribunal consolidated and jointly tried the two claim petitions.
7. The petitioners in the two claim petitions produced and marked Exts.A1 to A15 in evidence. The disability certificate was marked as Exhibit C1. The respondents did not let in any evidence.
8. The Tribunal, after analysing the pleadings and materials on record, allowed the two claim petitions, by permitting both Abdul Rahiman and Noorudheen to recover compensation from the third respondent. But, the Tribunal entered a finding that since the second respondent did not hold a driving license at the time of the accident, the third respondent was to pay the compensation amount and recover it from the first respondent.
9. Aggrieved by the direction in the impugned common award, permitting the third respondent to pay the compensation amount and recover it from the first respondent, the first respondent has filed the two appeals.
10. Heard; Sri. Sabu John, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant/first respondent and Smt.T.C.Sowmiavathy, the learned counsel appearing for the third respondent/insurer.
11. The sole point that arises for consideration in both the appeals is whether the direction in the impugned award, permitting the third respondent to pay the compensation amount in O.P.(M.V) Nos.1526/16 and 1527/2016 to the petitioners and then recover the compensation amount from the first respondent, is sustainable in law or not ?
12. The specific contention of the third respondent in the written statement was that the second respondent did not have a valid driving license as on 15.06.2016 to drive the van. Even though the third respondent had filed I.A.No.3453/2017, seeking the respondents 1 and 2 to produce the driving license of the second respondent, the respondents 1 and 2 did not produce the driving license. It was in the above circumstances, that the Tribunal held that the second respondent did not hold a valid driving license as on the date of accident.
13. Before this Court, the appellant/first respondent has produced the driving license of the second respondent, which has been accepted on record and marked as Exhibit B1.
14. Exhibit B1 establishes that the second respondent has a valid driving license with effect from 11.09.2013 to 10.09.2033. In view of the production of Exhibit B1, it is proved that the second respondent had a valid driving license as on the date of accident i.e. 15.06.2016. Therefore, there is no violation of insurance policy conditions as alleged by the third respondent. Nevertheless, as the appellant was not diligent in prosecuting the claim petition and producing the driving license of the second respondent despite the order in IA No.3453/2017, I am of the firm view that the appeal can be allowed, subject to the condition that the amount of Rs.25,000/- deposited by the appellant in MACA No.390/2021 be paid as cost to the third respondent for unnecessarily dragging them to this Court and wasting their time and money.
In the result, the appeals are allowed by setting aside the direction in the impugned award, permitting the third respondent to pay the compensation amount and recover it from the appellant/first respondent subject to the condition
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that the third respondent insurer would be entitled to the amount of Rs.25,000/-, that was deposited before the Tribunal as per receipt bearing No.49 dated 21.01.2021, as a condition precedent to institute MACA No.390/2021 before this Court, as cost. If the third respondent files such application before the Tribunal, the same shall be allowed and the amount shall be disbursed to the third respondent-insurer. The original driving license of the second respondent shall be returned to the appellant in accordance with law and on the appellant substituting the original with the certified copy of the same.