Jharkhand High Court Divisional Manager National … vs Hiraman Mahto And Ors. on 11 October, 2002

Jharkhand High Court
Divisional Manager National … vs Hiraman Mahto And Ors. on 11 October, 2002
Equivalent citations: 2003 ACJ 732, 2003 (1) JCR 573 Jhr
Bench: V Gupta, H S Prasad
ORDER

  1. In this application seeking condonation of delay for filing Misc. Appeal No. 192/2002, the main ground urged by the appellant is that the Claims Tribunal even though passed the judgment on 18.12.1999 in Title Suit No. 128 of 1996, but has not prepared the Award till date and therefore, on account of non-preparation of the Award, the appellant obviously could not obtain the copy of the Award and it is on account of non-supply of the copy of the Award that the appeal could not be filed in time.
  2. With respect to, and arising out of an accident involving a Motor Vehicle on 1st September, 1996, the claimants filed a petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 claiming compensation of Rs. 3 lacs on the ground that the accident had occurred because of rash and negligent driving on the part of the driver of the offending vehicle. The offending vehicle was insured with the appellant at the relevant time. The Tribunal passed a “judgment” on 18th September, 1999 awarding compensation to the tune of Rs. 3,22,432 with interest @ 12% per annum. It is the case of the appellant in this appeal and the accompanying application seeking condonation of delay that even though “judgment” was pronounced on 18.12.1999 and its copy was made available to the appellant, the tribunal did not prepare the “Award” uptill the date of filing of the appeal. Because of the non-preparation of the Award, the copy of the Award was not made available to the appellant and because of the “legal requirement” of the Memorandum of Appeal accompanying the copy of the Award, the appellant had to wait for a long time for filing of the appeal, thus causing the delay. Section 168 of 1988 Act reads thus :
  3. Award of the claims Tribunal.–(1) On receipt of an application for compensation made under Section 166, the Claims Tribunal shall, after giving notice of the application to the insurer and after giving the parties (including the insurer) an opportunity of being heard, hold an inquiry into the claim or, as the case may be, each of the claims and subject to the provisions of Section 162 may make an Award determining the amount of compensation which appears to it to be just and specifying the person or persons to whom compensation shall be paid and in making the Award the Claims Tribunal shall specify the amount which shall be paid by the insurer or owner or driver of the vehicle involved in the accident or by all or any of them, as the case may be :–

Provided that where such application makes a claim for compensation under Section 140 in respect of the death or permanent disablement of any person, such claims and any other claim (whether made in such application of otherwise) for compensation in respect of such death or permanent disablement shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of Chapter X.

(2) The Claims Tribunal shall arrange to deliver copies of the Award to the parties concerned expeditiously and in any case within a period of fifteen days from the date of the Award.

(3) When an Award is made under this section, the person who is required to pay any amount in terms of such Award shall, within thirty days of the date of announcing the Award by the Claims Tribunal, deposit the entire amount awarded in such manner as the Claims Tribunal may direct.

  1. What therefore is evident from a bare reading of Section 168 (supra) is that the claims tribunal, after holding an inquiry into the claim, may make an “Award” determining the amount of compensation which appears to be just to it and specifying the persons to whom the said compensation shall be paid. This section further provides that while “making an Award” the tribunal shall also specify the amount which shall be paid by the Insurer or the Owner or the Driver of the vehicle involved in the accident. What is to be noted is that Section 168 does not talk of the tribunal passing any “judgment”, it only talks of the tribunal “making an Award”. Under Section 176 of the 1988 Act, the State Government has been empowered to make rules for the purposes of carrying into effect the provisions of Section 165 to 174 of the Act which inter alia also include the matters relating to the form of application for claims and the particulars that such an application may contain, fees if any to be paid for such an application, and the procedure to be followed by the tribunal in holding an inquiry etc. In the exercise of the aforesaid rule making power, the Government of Bihar framed Bihar Motor Vehicle Rules, 1992. Rule 243 of 1992 Rules relates to the claim tribunal passing orders in the form of a judgment relating to its findings on the issues framed during the course of inquiry. Rule 243 reads thus.
  2. Judgment–The Claims Tribunal, in passing orders, shall record concisely in a judgment the finding on each of the issue framed and its reasons for such finding.
  3. Under Rule 249 of the 1992 Rules it is provided that every appeal against the Claims Tribunal (sic) shall be preferred in the form of a Memorandum which shall be accompanied by copy of the “Award”. Rule 249 reads as thus :
  4. Manner of appeals.–(1) Every appeal against the Claims Tribunal shall be preferred in the form of a memorandum signed by the appellant or an advocate or attorney of the High Court duly authorized in that behalf by the applicant and presented to the High Court or to such officer as it appoints in this behalf. The memorandum shall be accompanied by a copy of the Award.

(2) The memorandum shall set forth concisely and under distant heads the grounds of objection to the Award against which the appeal is preferred without any argument or narrative and such grounds shall be, numbered consecutively.

(3) Save as provided in Sub-rule (1) and (2), the provisions of Order XLI and Order XXI in First Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (V of 1908) shall mutatis mutandis apply to appeals preferred to the High Court under Section 173.

  1. The confusion which seems to have arisen in the first place and which in the ultimate analysis appears to have given rise to the practice being followed by all the tribunals in the State as well as in this Court is apparently directly linked with the requirement of Rule 249 (supra) which lays down that the Memorandum of Appeal has to be accompanied by a copy of the “Award”. This confusion seems to have been compounded by another practice where the tribunals have been passing “judgments” and after the passing of the “judgments”, in due course of time “Awards” are prepared which are supposed to be based on the judgments.
  2. In meeting with the requirement of Rule 249 (supra) of a Memorandum of Appeal being accompanied by a copy of the “Award”, a prospective appellant has to apply for a copy of the Award and only after it is made available, annex the same with the memo of appeal which has thus to be filed in the High Court. It is a common practice in this Court that an Appeal not accompanied with a copy of the Award is not entertained.
  3. It appears that without any legal sanction and without any basis as per any requirement of law. Tribunals and the Registry of this Court unnecessarily have been insisting on the preparation of the “Award”, after passing of the “judgment” and also upon the requirement of the memo of appeal being accompanied with the copy of the “Award”. It is a totally unnecessary insistence and the aforesaid requirement appears to be based upon the analogy relating to a Civil Court passing a “judgment” in Civil Suits in terms of Section 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure and the preparation of a decree later on, based on the contents of the “judgment”. While drawing comparison between the above referred provisions of the 1988 Act and 1992 Rules, it shall be advantageous to note here-in-below some provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure which are relevant for our purposes. Section 33 reads thus.
  4. Judgment and decree.–The Court, after the case has been heard, shall pronounce judgment, and on such judgment a decree shall follow.

Order XX, Rule 1, 6(1) and 7 read as under.

  1. Judgment when pronounced.–(1) The Court, after the case has been heard, shall pronounce judgment in an open Court, either at once, or as soon thereafter as may be practicable and when the judgment is to be pronounced on some future day, the Court shall fix a day for that purpose, of which due notice shall be given to the parties or their pleaders.

Provided that where the judgment is not pronounced at once, every endeavour shall be made by the Court to pronounce the judgment within thirty days from the date on which the hearing of the case was concluded but, where it is not practicable so to do on the ground of the exceptional and extraordinary circumstances of the case, the Court shall fix a future day for the pronouncement of the judgment, and such day shall not ordinarily be a day beyond sixty days from the date on which the hearing of the case was concluded, and due notice of the day so fixed shall be given to the parties or their pleaders.

  1. Contents of decree.–(1) The decree shall agree with the judgment; it shall contain the number of the suit, the {names and descriptions of the parties, their registered addresses,} and particulars of the claim, and shall specify clearly the relief granted or other determination of the suit.
  2. Date of decree.–The decree shall bear date the day on which the judgment was pronounced, and, when the Judge has satisfied himself that the decree has been drawn up in accordance with the judgment, he shall sign the decree.
  3. Order XLI, Rule 1 lays down that the Memorandum of Appeal shall be accompanied by a copy of the judgment. Actually the word “judgment” as occurring in Order XLI, Rule 1 as it presently stands has been substituted for the word “decree” as was in application prior to 1st July, 2002.
  4. The amendment to Rule 1 of Order XLI, actually is a pointer to the modern conceptual improvement in the philosophy of law that a litigant should not be burdened unnecessarily and thus whereas before 1st July, 2002, a Memorandum of Appeal was required to be accompanied by a copy of the decree appealed from, this has now been substituted with a copy of the judgment appealed against.
  5. A comparison between the above quoted provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and the 1988 Act clearly suggests that whereas under the scheme of the Code, in all civil suits there is a statutory requirement of the preparation of a decree following the pronouncement of a judgment, in the 1988 Act there is no such requirement of a Tribunal having to first pass the “judgment” and then to prepare the “Award” based upon such a judgment. Actually Section 168 of the 1988 Act, just the only provision in the Act relating to the passing of the “Award” does not contemplate the passing of a judgment first and thereafter the making of an Award. This section only requires the tribunal to “make an Award”. It is only based on some past practice that the tribunals which make the Award style that Award as a judgment, and thereafter unnecessarily take the burden of drawing up or preparing a formal Award, on the basis of the judgment earlier pronounced by them. There is no such requirement either in the 1988 Act or in the 1992 Rules. The Act and the Rules only require the tribunal to “make an Award”. The reading of Rule 243 (supra) suggests that the “order” or the “judgment” or the “Award” which the tribunal may pass, has to be a reasoned Award, related to the issues framed by it and the recording of the findings by the tribunal against all such issues. Neither Section 168 of the Act nor any other provision of the Act nor for that matter Rule 249 require the observance of a dual formality of first passing a judgment and then making an Award. The law only requires the making of an Award. The Award undoubtedly has to be like a judgment in the sense that it has to be a reasoned and speaking Award, discussing in details the evidence etc. and recording of the findings by the tribunal on all the issues. But this has to be done only once. Unlike the drawing of a decree as required under Section 33, CPC, or Order XX, Rule 6, or Rule 6-A, CPC, there is no requirement of the drawing up of an Award in that sense after the passing of a judgment.
  6. The legal position, therefore, which emerges on the basis of the aforesaid discussion is that the law does not require that Tribunals should draw up any formal Award after the passing of a judgment. The only requirement of law is for the Tribunals to make an Award. It is immaterial whether the Tribunals call this document as a judgment or an Award. Correspondingly, therefore, neither Section 173 of 1988 Act, nor Rule 249 of 1992 Rules, nor any other provision of law requires that a Memorandum of appeal filed under Section 173 (supra) should be accompanied by anything other than the copy of the Award. The Award may be in any form. It may have been styled as a judgment, an order, or simply an Award. The law does not stipulate or require a Tribunal to act in two stages; first the stage of passing the judgment and thereafter the stage of making of the Award. Actually we wish to observe and direct that in future, from now onwards. Tribunals shall, to maintain uniformity and also to observe the letter and spirit of law, style and describe their final verdicts as “Awards” and, thus avoid the confusion and unnecessary exercise of first writing a judgment and making an Award. If all the final verdicts are styled and described as “Awards”, there would not be scope for any confusion about the Law not requiring the Tribunals, draw up or prepare a formal Award.
  7. An indication was given at the Bar that, perhaps, the preparation and the drawing up of a formal Award may be a requirement of law to enable the claimant to get the Award executed since a formal Award contains details such as the amount awarded, the rate of interest, the period from when the interest- liability would commence, the amount of costs awarded and so on and so forth. We do not at all accept any suggestion that the said requirements either necessitated the preparation or drawing up of a formal Award or that because of these requirements, the law contemplates the preparation or the drawing up of a formal Award. We are saying so because, as noticed earlier, unlike the provisions contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, no such contemplation exists in the 1988 Act or in 1992 Rules. Secondly, in any event, the verdict that a Tribunal passes which it hitherto has been styling as a judgment and which on our directions contained herein should now be styled and described as “Award”, contains all the necessary particulars such as the amount of compensation awarded, the rate of interest and the period from which it commences, the costs etc. etc. Any party wishing to take out execution proceedings or other proceedings under law for recovery of the awarded amount can incorporate the details in its application for execution or for recovery of the amount and these details can be obtained from the Award itself.
  8. While summing up, therefore, we reiterate that the law requires the Tribunal only to pass a verdict and that verdict has to be styled and described as an “Award” under Section 168 (supra) and similarly under Section 173 (supra) the law requires the appellant to file a copy of such an Award along with the Memorandum of Appeal.
  9. Based on the aforesaid reasons, therefore, we find and hold that it was on the basis of the aforesaid legal misconception that the appellant appears to have filed the appeal beyond the prescribed period of limitation. We accordingly direct that notice be issued upon the respondents in the condonation matter to show cause as to why the delay in filing the Appeal be not condoned.

Registry is directed to circulate copies of this judgment to all the Tribunals for their information.

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