The Delhi High Court has set up a special committee to oversee the enforcement of the New System for Motor Accident Claimants devised by it for the speedy settlement of claims for motor accidents, to be headed by a lawyer. One of the key aspects of this system is that after filing the First Injury Report (FAR) to the Claims Tribunal, the Investigation Officer can report the accident to the Claims Tribunal in Form-1 within 48 hours of the intimation of the accident.
J. R. Midha, Justice of the Delhi High Court, has developed a new Auto Accident Claims System in which the investigation officer is expected to submit a First Accident Report within 48 hours to the compensation tribunal and insurance provider for any road accident.
“In his order, Justice J. R. Midha noted, “India has a dubious reputation of having the highest number of road accidents. According to the latest Ministry of Road Transport and Highways report, 4,49,002 road accidents were recorded in 2019 resulting in 1,51,113 deaths and 4,51,361 injuries, i.e., an average of one road accident every 1.17 minutes resulting in one death every 3.47 minutes, which is the highest in the world”.
“Road accidents are a human tragedy involving enormous human suffering and they impose enormous socio-economic costs in terms of premature deaths, injuries, and loss of potential income,” he further noted. The effects of road crashes can be immense, and their negative impact is not only felt on people and their families, but also on the economy. Road protection is a key problem for National concern.
The key aspects in the proposed System for Motor Accident Lawsuits include the following: –
- The Investigation Officer shall inform the Claims Tribunal of the accident by filing the First Accident Report (FAR) in Form I within 48 hours of the accident being informed. If the insurance policy details are available, the intimation of the accident in Form I shall be issued to the offending vehicle’s Nodal Officer of the Insurance Firm concerned. The copy of FAR shall be given by the Investigating Officer to the victims as well as to DSLSA. The Investigation Officer shall supply the Delhi State Legal Services Authority with a copy of the FAR (DSLSA). The specifics of the accident will also be reported on the Delhi Police website.
- The driver of the vehicle(s) involved in the accident shall, within 30 days of the accident, provide the investigating officer in Form III with the relevant details, including his name, age, gender, salary, driving license, date of validity of the license, vehicle registration number, owner’s information, and vehicle insurance, etc.
- The owner of the vehicle(s) involved in the accident shall, within 30 days of the accident, provide the necessary documents, including the driver’s details, insurance coverage details, permit and fitness details, etc., in Form IV to the investigating officer.
- Under Type V, the Investigation Officer shall send the Preliminary Accident Report (IAR) to the Claims Tribunal within 50 days of the accident.
- The victim(s) of the accident shall, within 60 days of the accident, provide the necessary information and documentation to the Investigating Officer in the form of VIA and VIB.
- The Investigative Officer shall send to the Insurance Provider of the offending car, along with the DAR, a copy of the Victim’s Forms and the documents, whereupon the Insurance Firm shall check the evidence and documents submitted by the victim(s) within 30 days of receipt of the DAR.
- The Investigation Officer shall give a copy of the Victim’s Form-VIB to the Child Welfare Committee along with DAR, whereupon the Child Welfare Committee shall perform an investigation to assess if the victim’s child/children need safety and treatment under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
- The Investigative Officer shall, within 60 days of the crash, conclude the review of the criminal case and file the report under Section 173 CrPC with the Metropolitan Magistrate.
- The Investigation Officer shall, within 90 days of the crash, complete the verification of the facts and documentation issued by the driver and owner of the vehicle(s) and deliver the DAR to the Claims Tribunal in Form VII.
- In the event of failure to report any related details and documentation to the driver(s), owner(s), insurance provider, and/or claimant(s), the investigative officer shall request the requisite guidance from the Claims Tribunal, whereupon the Claims Tribunal shall, by implication, order the parties to send the appropriate form, i.e. Driver’s Form-III, Form of Owner-IV or Form of Victim-VIA and VIB, along with the relevant documents directly with the Claims Tribunal within 15 days.
- The Insurance Firm shall review the DAR and apply its judgment in Form XI to the Claims Tribunal within 30 days of receipt from the Investigation Officer of a copy of the DAR.
- The learned Metropolitan Magistrate shall, after the indictment of the accused in the criminal case, give the copy of the judgment as well as the accused’s affidavit with regard to his properties and profits to DSLSA, whereupon DSLSA shall perform a summary investigation and apply a Victim Impact Assessment (VIR) in Form XII before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate within 30 days with regard to the Full Bench judgment of this Court in Karan v. State NCT of Delhi, Crl.A.352/2020 decided on 27th November 2020.
By its previous order of 14 September 2020, the Court ordered the ‘Transport Study Wing (TRW) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ to set up a High-Power Advisory Committee to implement best practices related to developing countries’ accident types and to update the DAR.
After due consideration of the Committee’s reports appointed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Court found that it was necessary to change the Claims Tribunal Decided Protocol laid out in Rajesh Tyagi-III by this Court.
The Court further noted that it would be necessary to extend the date from 30 days to 90 days for the filing of the Comprehensive Accident Report (DAR) to bring the Scheme into compliance with Section 159 of the amended Motor Vehicles Act. The Comprehensive Accident Report (DAR) has been split by this Court into three parts: The Interim Accident Report (IAR) to be submitted within 50 days of the accident; the Comprehensive Injury Report (DAR) needs to be filed within 90 days of the accident and the Victim Impact Report (VIR) is to be filed following the defendant’s arrest.
In addition, the Court contained in this scheme the benevolent clauses relating to the formats of the developing countries and the formats of the Transport Research Wing (TRW) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Subsequently, the Court adopted the forms to be filled out in the New Scheme by the driver, owner, and victim(s), which are annexed to the article in the Judgment.
The Court acknowledged H.S. Phoolka, Sidharth Luthra, Vikas Pahwa, Rajshekhar Rao, and Satyam Thareja, or Senior Advocates, who supported the Court as Amicus Curiae, in their submissions. They indicated that the successful introduction of the Scheme calls for stringent policy implementation, to supervise the execution and take corrective action, insurance providers, as well as Claims Tribunals and a Committee, shall be appointed. The Delhi High Court then formed a Committee for the Introduction of the New Motor Accident Claims Scheme.
In its order ‘A committee is hereby formed to oversee the execution of this particular system, consisting of the following members,’ the Court directed: —
- The sitting or former Judge of this Court to be designated as Chairperson by the Hon’ble Chief Justice.
- Member Secretary, DSLSA as the Committee Convener.
- Special Inspector of Police Police Commissioner.
- Supplementary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Transport and in the Ministry of Road Transport Highways to be named by the Secretary of the Road Ministry Transport and Expressways.
- Secretary-General, Board of General Insurance (GIC).
The Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) provides the Committee with the required technical support personnel. The Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) shall bear the expenses required for the operation of the Commission, the High Court of Delhi said.
The Delhi Police and the Insurance Firms shall send monthly reports to the Committee in accordance with the terms of the Scheme for the preceding month. The first report for the duration from 02 April 2021 to 30 April 2021 shall be submitted by 20 May 2021 and, subsequently, by 20 May of each month. The Committee shall recommend to the Delhi Police and Insurance Providers the type of compliance report to be circulated. The Commission, under the guidance of the Court, shall consider the findings and take such remedial steps as may be deemed appropriate for the effective execution of the Scheme.’
All the insurance firms are directed to nominate a Nodal Officer and to send their Nodal Officer’s name, location, phone numbers/mobile numbers, and email address to the DCP-Legal Cell (PHQ) of the Delhi Police within four weeks. The Delhi Police shall, before the next hearing date, record the list of Nodal Officers of all the insurance firms.