The Hon’ble Kerala HC earlier today came across with an interesting question of law while deciding appeals against a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal Order on whether the Tribunal could reduce the compensation payable on a motorcycle accident if the deceased pillion rider rode without a helmet.
The Hon’ble Tribunal, while permitting the family of a deceased person in a motorcycle accident to claim compensation applied the principle of contributory negligence and stated that the deceased was not wearing a helmet. Additionally, the Hon’ble modified the compensation and reduced the quantum of reward.
Subsequently, the family of the deceased moved to the Hon’ble High Court wherein the issue at hand was to decide whether the principle of contributory negligence could be applied to the instant cases. With regards to the issues at hand, the Hon’ble Court referred to Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act that made the non-wearing of a helmet an offence, in the due course the Hon’ble Court underlined the need for a connection between the violation of the helmet rule and the accident or consequences of the accident for the principle of contributory negligence to apply.
Further, the Hon’ble court cited Mohammed Siddique versus. National Insurance Company Ltd. Wherein a similar declaration in the context of an accident case that involved a violation of Section 128 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the Hon’ble Court ruled that “Simply because there is a violation of Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 by a victim in an accident, there is no presumption that there is contributory negligence on the part of the person who was not wearing the helmet. It is to be decided in the facts and circumstances of each case.”
Furthermore, the Hon’ble court reasoned that what was necessary to be ascertained was whether the individual contributed to the accident that occurred. Likewise, the Hon’ble Court based on the Hon’ble Kerala High Court judgment in PJ Jose versus. Vanchankal Niyas & Ors. stated that “to attribute contributory negligence, some other additional evidence is necessary”. The Hon’ble Court in continuation also said that “It is true that if the deceased be wearing a helmet, probably his life could have been saved and the gravity of the injury would not have been this much severe to have resulted in the death of the deceased. But the consequence because of the non-wearing of the helmet was not the reason for hitting down the rider of the motorcycle by the offending vehicle”.
However, the Hon’ble Court also advised against using its decision as a license to ride without a helmet. While making it clear the Hon’ble court held that this is not a license to drive motorcycles without wearing a helmet. The authorities concerned shall see that Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act is compiled in its letter and spirit. Accordingly, the compensation allowed by the Tribunal is modified by the Hon’ble Court.
Case: Kadeeja Musaliyar and Ors. versus. Riyas Manakadavan and Ors., National insurance Co. versus. Kadeeja Musaliyar