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Recovery from police driver set aside Kaushik Kannan | TNN | Dec 27, 2019, 4:47 IST AA Madurai: Madras high court has set aside the order of recovery of money from a driver in the police department for causing an accident, saying it contradicts the authorities’ stand before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. Petitioner M Thangavel was driving a police van at Madurai on April 4, 2000 when a bullock cart suddenly came in the way leading to an accident which caused minor injuries to the cart rider. Though a criminal case was registered against the driver, he was acquitted after trial on March 8, 2002. The cart rider filed a petition in the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal seeking compensation. The tribunal in its order on January 25, 2011 awarded a compensation of Rs 32,300 with 7.5% interest to the bullock cart rider. The Tamil Nadu Special Police VI battalion commandant in Madurai subsequently passed an order on September 18, 2011 to recover the money from Thangavel but without hearing him. When Thangavel moved HC Madurai bench in 2011, the court on August 13, 2012 set aside the order but granted liberty to the authorities to proceed with the process by providing sufficient opportunity to the petitioner to explain. Subsequently, a show cause notice was issued to the petitioner in 2013 for which he submitted explanation. The tribunal concluded that the accident occurred due to negligence of the petitioner. Hence the authorities ordered on April 20, 2014 to recover the compensation of Rs 48,804 from the petitioner in instalments. Thangavel moved HC Madurai bench in 2014 challenging the recovery order. Justice J Nisha Banu observed that a division bench of the court in an order on July 7, 1999 had held that the department’s action seeking recovery of the amount awarded by the tribunal from a driver is wholly unsustainable as the employer is bound to pay the compensation. The judge said in this case the petitioner was not added as a party to the tribunal’s proceedings and there was no clear finding in the departmental inquiry that he had driven the vehicle in a negligent manner. It was only based on the conclusion of the tribunal that the authorities had passed the order of recovery. “The authorities had taken a stand before the tribunal that the accident had not occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the petitioner. Contrary to the same, now they cannot pass an order for recovery of amount from the petitioner,” observed the judge. Taking cognizance of the petitioner’s submission that he had now retired from service and the recovered amount is with the authorities concerned, the judge set aside the recovery order and directed to refund the amount within eight weeks.