|Name of the Case||Beli Ram v. Rajinder Kumar and Anr.|
|Civil Appeal Nos.||7221 of 2011|
|Year of the Case||1999|
|Respondent||Rajinder Kumar and Anr.|
|Acts Involved||Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923|
|Important Sections||S.4 of Compensation Act, Section 149(2) (a) (ii) of the MV Act.|
|Judges||Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose, and Justice Krishna Murari|
Supreme Court of India in the case of Beli Ram v. Rajinder Kumar & Anr. held that when an employer works as a driver, it is his responsibility to check that the driver has a valid driver’s license. The owner must prove that the driver has valid license and he is entitled to drive. He must also take proper care to ensure that his or her employee renews his or her license within a reasonable time. In such a case, the wrong party is bound under the Workers’ Compensation Act, 1923. This case study shows the facts, the important sections and the relevant provisions, the relevant cases, and the trial.
The case focuses on the question “Who should pay compensation for an employee whose driver’s license has expired?” According to the Compensation Act. The appellant was found to be in breach of the legitimate law of the law, namely, the Compensation Act and, as a result, the appellant was charged with interest as a substantial penalty of 50 percent. The amount of compensation was measured as follows:
1. Amount of compensation
2. Penalty @ 50% on compensation amount
3. Interest from 20.6.1999 to 3.3.2009.
On 23rd September 2020 the Supreme Court of India in the case of Beli Ram V. Rajinder Kumar and Anr comprising one Bench of Judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul, while examining the question of how much care / diligence is expected of an employer / insurer when hiring a driver claims the absence of driving was present, but a lack of care from the complainant as the employer would also appear.
A driver who allows his license to be revoked and does not receive renewal until after the accident will not have to apply for a refund. The Judge disputed the question of the implications of the MV Act being a beneficial law. Therefore, if two translations were possible, it would be permissible for the applicant to be granted, but violence should not be carried out in the clear and explicit language of the law. Therefore, while protecting the rights of claimants by asking an insurance company to invest, a similar refund for insurers will follow as empathy can only be at risk. The right to be protected belongs to the victim and not to the owner of the vehicle.
The first defendant here, had an accident on 20.5.1999 while driving a petitioner’s truck here, under which he worked for a profit. The result of the first defendant was 20 percent permanent disability. The first defendant here filed an application under the Workers’ Compensation Act, 1923 (later called the ‘Compensation Act’) before the Commissioner, Sadar, Bilaspur on 17.2.1999 seeking compensation of Rs.5,00,000 / -, to sue the appellant and the second here – the insurance company that protected the car.
These processes resulted in the awarding of the Commission on 8.12.2004 giving Rs. 94,464 / – for injuries sustained and Rs.67, 313 / – in respect of medical expenses of the first respondent. The amount disbursed was to bear interest @ 9 per cent per annum from the date of application until the date of payment. The amount of compensation was paid to the second defendant as insurance, while the interest was directed to be paid by the claimant here.
During the appeal to the Supreme Court, HC exempted the insurance company from any liability on the grounds that there was a breach of the insurance policy as the driver When the case came before the Supreme Court, the only question the High Court had previously had was whether if the relevant driver’s license, if the license expired, the insurance was waived.
The only legal question to be considered in these current complaints is that whether the relevant driver’s license, if the license has expired, is guaranteed is deducted from its liability.
The High Court considered Section 4 of the Compensation Act, in particular the following:
“4. Compensation amount – (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the amount of compensation shall be as follows, namely: – (a) In the event of death due to injury An amount equal to 50% of the employee’s monthly salary is multiplied by the relevant factor; or 3 The value of eighty thousand, or more; (b) Where a permanent disability results in an injury equal to six per cent of the monthly salary of the injured worker multiplied by the relevant factor, or a sum of ninety thousand rand, or more.
Explanation I. – For the purposes of subsections (a) and subsections (b), “appropriate”, in relation to an employee means an item specified in the second column of Schedule IV against inclusion in the first column of that Schedule specifying the number of years equal to the completed age compensation was due. ”
Section 5 of the MV Act
Provides that no owner or person of a motor vehicle station may create or permit any person to drive a motor vehicle if he or she does not meet the requirements of Sections 3 and 4 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The owner must prove that he or she has confirmed the license. He or she must also take proper care to ensure that his or her employee renews his or her license within a reasonable time.
In the absence of a valid driver’s license, the vehicle was driven in violation of the policy, which requires the motor vehicle to be driven by a valid licensee, and therefore, in contravention of Section 149 (2) (a) (ii) of the MV Act.
Sections 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and 48 of the MV Act, 1988 are also referred to.
Nirmala Kothari v. United India Insurance Company Limited[i]
The legal question examined in this decision was how much care / diligence is expected from the employer / guaranteed while the driver is employed.
It has examined the definition of the term “valid license”, as used in Section 149 (2) (a) (ii) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘MV Act’).
Other cases referred
Tata AIG General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Akansha & Ors[iii]
The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Manoj Kumar & Ors.[iv]
National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Hem Raj & Ors.[v]
It was held by Bench, including Judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose & Justice Krishna Murari, that as long as basic care to verify a driver’s license should be taken by the employer, even though a thorough investigation is not required, the car owner will be able to validate the driver’s license. It was argued that after that he could wash his hands of the burden of not checking that the driver had renewed his license. It was argued that it was not a case where the license was not renewed for a short period of time, say a month, as was the case in previous cases where the benefit was given to a third party by imposing an insurance company. It was discovered that the license at this time was not renewed for three years and in the case of a motor vehicle. It was alleged that the appellant had shown gross negligence in confirming the same.
It was also maintained that in the current case the beneficiary is the driver himself who was negligent but does not deal with the claim under the MV Act but under the Compensation Act, which provides immediate relief, not based on the erroneous notion of limited compensation as specified in payment. It was maintained by the SC that, thus, in the present proceedings it is not necessary to determine the share of the burden between the complainant as owner and the first responder as the driver as is possible in proceeding under the MV Act.
It was determined that the expired license was not renewed within thirty (30) days of the expiry of the license as provided for in sections 14 and 15 of the Environmental Act. It was determined that if the driver’s license was not renewed within thirty (30) days, the driver did not have a valid driver’s license. It was argued, therefore, that the driver, who allows his license to expire and does not receive it renewed until after the accident, would not consider it necessary to assume that the license was renewed.
SC holds that it is clearly a case of negligence that should see an employee renew his or her license, and, if the actual license is verified, the employer will certainly know when the license expires. And here was a commercial truck. It was deemed that the applicant must, therefore, be liable with the following obligation to allow the driver to drive with an expired license for a period of three (3) years. It was held that the only thing it noticed was that fortunately there was no accident with the third complainant but the person responsible for the suffering and suffering were one person, i.e., the first responder. The Court held that, however, it was subject to a waiver under the Compensation Act and those conditions were intended to benefit employees such as the first responder, or possibly erroneous one, by determining the minimum amount paid to provide assistance in the appropriate category where major issues could be discussed in other proceedings.
As a result of the above, the complaints were dismissed by the SC.
The case is First Appeal from Order (Workmen’s Compensation Act) No. 45 of 2005. It raises questions as to whether the relevant driver’s license, if the license has expired, is the insurance exempt from its liability or not?
It stipulates that if an employee’s official driver’s license has expired, the employer is liable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, 1923 and not the employee or the insurance company. Various sections of the Traffic Act are also included in the judgment.
Hence it could be concluded by the apex Court’s judgement that the Insurance Company could not be held liable in the event of an expired license held by the driver who was driving his employer’s vehicle. Whenever an employer hires a driver, he should make sure that his employee gets renewed his driver’s license within a reasonable time.
What Was The Issue Of The Case?
The question whether if the relevant driver’s license, if the license expired, the insurance was waived was raised.
What Sections Are Involved In This Case?
Section 4 of the Compensation Act, 1923, Sections 5, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and 48 of the MV Act, 1988.
Who Were The Appellant and Respondent In The Case?
Appellant- Beli Ram and Respondent- Rajinder Kumar and Anr.
What Were the Acts Involved?
Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923
What Was Observed By the Court In the Judgement?
The Court observed the Insurance Company could not be held liable in the event of an expired license held by the driver who was driving his employer’s vehicle. Whenever an employer hires a driver, he should make sure that his employee gets renewed his driver’s license within a reasonable time.
[i] (2020) 4 SCC 49
[iii] 2015 SCC Online 6758 : (2015) 2 TAC 52
[iv] (2015) 111 ALR 275
[v] 2012 ACJ 1891