HC: Settle majority of accident claim cases before Lok Adalats

HC: Settle majority of accident claim cases before Lok Adalats

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, August 1

In a significant order liable to change the way claim pleas in accident cases are adjudicated, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that the maximum number of cases would be settled through conciliation proceedings before the Lok Adalats across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Settle matter via conciliation

  • The High Court made it clear that maximum number of cases will be settled through conciliation proceedings before the Lok Adalats across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh
  • Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan said irresponsible behaviour by any insurance company official may be reflected in the court proceedings for recommending disciplinary action against them

An undertaking to this effect by an insurance company, along with other instructions, was directed to be made applicable to the other companies as well. Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan also directed the circulation of the order’s copy to the regional managers and standing counsel of all insurance companies.

Justice Sangwan also made it clear that irresponsible behaviour by any insurance company official may be reflected in the court proceedings for recommending against them disciplinary action through the higher authorities.

The directions came just over a week after Justice Sangwan summoned the chairman of the Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. following “irresponsible conduct” of its officials in a case where the claimant/appellant required plastic surgery for disfigurement of his face after suffering an injury as a minor. The insurance company officers appearing before a Lok Adalat in the case had ruled out amicable settlement in such matters.

As the case came up for resumed hearing, an affidavit by the insurance company’s chairman-cum-managing director and “necessary instructions” issued to the officials deputed to attend the proceedings before the Lok Adalats at different levels were placed before Justice Sangwan’s Bench.

The instructions, among other things, said the officers would file their calculation sheets during the Lok Adalats’ sittings. The advice of the advocate/retainer “may” be sought if the calculations differed with the Lok Adalats’ proposals. The final compensation offer, which may also include the interest component in case of delay on the company’s part, would then be filed before the court/Lok Adalat.

Justice Sangwan asserted the affidavit and the instructions would be deemed to be an undertaking by all insurance companies appearing before the Lok Adalats in the High Court or in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. It would apply “mutatis mutandis” or equally to officials of other companies as well.

“As undertaken in the affidavit and the instructions, the officials of the insurance companies will not oppose the interest component inbuilt for a period of delay as reasonably assessed by the Lok Adalats,” Justice Sangwan observed before directing the High Court registry to list claimants appeals before the Permanent Lok Adalat at “the first instance as in the new appeals, the component of interest is not much contested by the insurance companies”.

Justice Sangwan added that appeal by the claimant, where notice of motion had already been issued in the main case, would be listed before the High Court’s Permanent Lok Adalat, where the only prayer was for compensation enhancement.

HC: Settle majority of accident claim cases before Lok Adalats

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