Full order motor insurence caseSuo Motu W.P. No.12935 of 2021 P.N. PRAKASH, J. and ABDUL QUDDHOSE, J.           In continuation of our earlier order dated 02.07.2021, we pass the following order:                     2        Mr. N. Vijayaraghavan, learned Amicus Curiae, Mr. K. Seetharaman, Additional Registrar (Inspection), Mr.S.Sethuraman and Mr. M. Ilayaraja, Assistant Chief Nodal Officers are present.  Further, the District Nodal Officers appointed vide our earlier order dated 18.06.2021 also participated in the hearing via Video Conferencing. State Bank of India, Pattukkottai Branch, is directed to submit their response to the report of the learned Amicus Curiae, in writing, on the next hearing date.  It is open to Mr.C.Mohan to bring the officials of the bank for the next hearing for rendering necessary assistance.           17      As done in the earlier hearings, the learned Amicus Curiae has undertaken to send a copy of this order by e-mail to all the Insurance Companies and Transport Corporations and the same shall be treated as sufficient notice for compliance.

Suo Motu W.P. No.12935 of 2021

P.N. PRAKASH, J.

 

and

 

ABDUL QUDDHOSE, J.

 

In continuation of our earlier order dated 02.07.2021, we pass the following order:

 

2        Mr. N. Vijayaraghavan, learned Amicus Curiae, Mr. K. Seetharaman, Additional Registrar (Inspection), Mr.S.Sethuraman and Mr. M. Ilayaraja, Assistant Chief Nodal Officers are present.  Further, the District Nodal Officers appointed vide our earlier order dated 18.06.2021 also participated in the hearing via Video Conferencing.

 

          3        As the hearings progress in this case, the Chief Nodal Officer and the Amicus Curiae will have to file reports from time to time. Therefore, for the sake of convenience, we propose to assign a distinct title with serial numbers for their reports.  Accordingly, the report of the Chief Nodal Officer will be referred to as “CNO Report No….” and the report of the Amicus Curiae will be referred to as “AC Report No….”

 

          4        Today, the Chief Nodal Officer has filed CNO Report No.1 dated 23.07.2021 and the Amicus Curiae has filed AC Report No.1 dated 16.07.2021

 

          5        We now propose to deal with the issues raised in CNO Report No.1 dated 23.07.2021.

 

6        The Chief Nodal Officer has stated that the e-mail account opened for each Court in the NIC domain has not been put to use by judicial officers, on account of which, those e-mail accounts have become de-activated.  Hence, we direct all the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals (for short “the Tribunals”) and Courts to activate their e-mail accounts in the NIC domain, forthwith, and share the same with the Chief Nodal Officer and the Insurance Companies/Transport Corporations.

 

7        Next, we direct the Tribunals to comply with the slew of directions issued by the Division Bench of this Court in the Divisional Manager, The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., Kannur vs. Rajesh1 and specify in the award, the CNR of the case, official e-mail ID of the Court, the bank account details of the Court as well the claimant, enabling the Insurance Company/Transport Corporation to deposit the award amount expeditiously and report the factum of deposit to the Tribunals.

 

8        It is further brought to the notice of this Court that several Tribunals in the cadre of Additional District Judges and Additional Sub Judges have not opened their NEFT account, as a consequence of which, they share the NEFT account of the Court of the Principal District Judge and Principal Sub Judge respectively. However, during the discussions with the District Nodal Officers, some of them stated that the post of Sherishtadar who is required to maintain these accounts is not available for the Court of the Additional District Judge and Additional Sub Judge and that is why, these Courts do not maintain individual registers, viz., C.R. Nos.35,36, 37 and 63; hence, they park the MCOP funds in the accounts of the Principal District Judge or the Principal Sub Judge, as the case may be. This practice,  in our view, is clearly against the directions issued by the Division Bench in Rajesh (supra), where, all the Tribunals have been directed to open bank accounts for dealing with the MCOP funds. However, in the light of the existing practice, we would request the Chief Nodal Officer to consider the desirability of each Tribunal opening separate accounts, which issue we deal with below.

 

9        That apart, the present practice of parking all the funds in the account of the Principal District Judge and Principal Sub Judge has led to accumulation of huge amounts in their accounts, that too, without knowing as to which MCOP number, the amount belongs to, thereby providing a fertile ground for misappropriation. Therefore, we direct the Chief Nodal Officer to file a report as to the desirability of directing all the Tribunals, including the Court of the Additional District Judges and Additional Sub Judges, to open their own accounts to deal with the MCOP funds of their respective Courts.  Further, the Chief Nodal Officer, in consultation with the District Nodal Officers and the Amicus Curiae, shall suggest as to the type of account that should be opened by the Tribunals, i.e., Current A/c or S.B. A/c. As regards the Tribunals in Chennai, a centralised account is being maintained by the Registrar, Small Causes Court, which we do not want to disturb for the present.

 

10      It is brought to our notice that in Thanjavur district, the practice of issuing bulk cheques together with a payment advice indicating the names of the claimants to whom the various amounts should be transferred by the bank, has been discontinued and in its place, the Tribunals issue individual payment advice for each case, in duplicate, both signed by the Presiding Officer, so that there is no scope for misappropriation.  The Chief Nodal Officer is directed to study the working of this system and suggest as to whether would it be desirable to follow the Thanjavur system pan Tamil Nadu. For this purpose, the payment advice proforma, which is being used in Thanjavur District, may also be examined by the Chief Nodal Officer.

 

11      It is brought to our notice that in most of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals in the State, there are huge amounts lying in the Civil Court Deposit (CCD) account without they being invested in fixed deposits for various reasons.  One such reasons is that the advocates normally file an application for calling for the amount from the bank and when the fixed deposit amount is recalled into the CCD account, they do not proceed further for collecting the amounts, on account of which, the amount so recalled gets accumulated in the CCD account of the Court for years on end without accruing interest. Though the judicial officers and staff are aware of it, they are not willing to bell the cat fearing that they may be hauled up for not re-investing the amounts in time as this practice is age old. In our opinion, we cannot afford to allow this situation to continue indefinitely to the detriment of the claimants. Therefore, as an one time measure, we direct all the Tribunals in the State to re-invest the amounts lying in the CCD accounts into Fixed Deposit accounts in nationalised banks by 30.08.2021.

 

12      Next, it is the grievance of the District Nodal Officers that there is paucity of staff in all the Courts, on account of which, they find it difficult to reconcile the old accounts; in several instances, old records are not available and they are required to be re-constructed especially in places where there has been bifurcation of Courts.  While some District Nodal Officers suggested that they may be permitted to avail of the services of retired staff members of their Courts to be of assistance in their work, a few suggested that the services of the retired staff members can be availed of by employing them as Para Legal Volunteers through the District Legal Services Authority, in which case, they would be paid a reasonable sum which will encourage them to voluntarily make their services available for this work. It was also suggested that a decent sum could be paid to such retired staff members as honorarium per day from the contingency fund available with the Principal District Judge.  The Chief Nodal Officer is directed to explore all the avenues and file a report in this regard for us to issue appropriate directions.  The Chief Nodal Officer shall also quantify as to what would be the reasonable honorarium to be paid to such retired staff members.

 

13      Mr. N. Vijayaraghavan, learned Amicus Curiae, has filed AC Report no.1 dated 16.07.2021, wherein, he has given several suggestions which merit discussion and consideration.

 

14      A reading of the AC Report No.1 dated 16.07.2021 shows that the defalcation in the III Additional District Court, Pattukottai, had occurred mainly because the State Bank of India, Pattukottai Branch, had insisted upon issuance of bulk cheque together with the common payment advice detailing the names and account particulars of the claimants.  A reading of the AC Report No.1 dated 16.07.2021 further reveals that the said gargantuan defalcation would not have been possible if not for either the connivance or negligence of the officials of State Bank of India, Pattukottai Branch.  We do not want to make any final observation at this stage without giving an opportunity to the State Bank of India, Pattukottai Branch, to meet the points raised in AC Report No.1 dated 16.07.2021 of the learned Amicus Curiae.  Therefore, we suo motu implead the State Bank of India, Pattukottai Branch, Thanjavur, represented by its Senior Branch Manager, as the third respondent in this writ petition.

 

15      Since we deemed it fit, we called M/s. King and Partridge, who are the panel counsel for Reserve Bank of India as well State Bank of India, to be present before this Court today and accordingly, Mr.C.Mohan of M/s. King and Partridge, who was present before this Court, took notice for State Bank of India, Pattukottai Branch, the newly impleaded third respondent.

 

16      The State Bank of India, Pattukkottai Branch, is directed to submit their response to the report of the learned Amicus Curiae, in writing, on the next hearing date.  It is open to Mr.C.Mohan to bring the officials of the bank for the next hearing for rendering necessary assistance.

 

          17      As done in the earlier hearings, the learned Amicus Curiae has undertaken to send a copy of this order by e-mail to all the Insurance Companies and Transport Corporations and the same shall be treated as sufficient notice for compliance.

 

18      A copy of this order may be sent by e-mail to all the District Nodal Officers and the Director, Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy.

 

Post on 06.08.2021 (Friday) at 2.30 p.m., on which date, the Director, TNSJA, shall be present for the hearing.

 

(P.N.P., J.)           (A.Q., J.)

23.07.2021

cad

 

P.N. PRAKASH, J.

and

ABDUL QUDDHOSE, J.

cad

 

 

 

 

Suo Motu W.P. No.12935 of 2021

 

 

 

 

 

23.07.2021

1    decided on 11.03.2016

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