Supreme Court of India
Kalim Khan vs Fimidabee on 3 July, 2018Author: Dipak Misra





CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 8785­8786 OF 2015

Kalim Khan & Others  …Appellant(s)

Fimidabee & Others          …Respondent(s)


Dipak Misra, CJI

The legal representatives of the deceased Firoz preferred a

claim   petition   being   MAC   Petition   No.   64   of   2006   before   the

Chairman,   Motor   Accidents   Claims   Tribunal   (for   short,   ‘the

tribunal’), Washim under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act,

1988 (for brevity, “the Act”) claiming compensation of Rs. 15 lacs

on the foundation that the deceased was an Assistant Teacher in

Urdu   Primary   School   at   Pusad   run   by   Zilla   Parishad,   Yeotmal

and was drawing monthly salary of Rs. 8,123/­ and they were
Signature Not Verified

dependent on the income of the deceased.   The assertion in the
Digitally signed by
Date: 2018.07.03
16:55:20 IST

claim petition was that land situated in survey number 136 of

village Kajleshwar, Tq Karanja, Washim District was belonging to

Respondent No. 1 who had commenced the work for digging of

well in the above agricultural land. On 08.04.2005 at about 4.15

p.m., when the deceased was returning towards his house after

purchasing certain articles from the grocery shop, a heavy stone

came flying and fell on his head, as a consequence of which, he

sustained   grievous   injuries  and  was  carried  for   treatment  in   a

jeep to the hospital where he  was declared dead. The case of the

claimants   before   the   Tribunal   was   that   the   stone   fell   on   the

deceased due to blasting operation carried out for digging of well

in the field of respondent No. 1. It is further put forth that the

tractor   belonging   to   the   1st  respondent   and   insured   with   the

respondent  No.  4  was   used for  digging up well by  keeping the

blasting machine and, therefore, the causing of death by the use

of the tractor was established.

2. The tribunal, appreciating the materials brought on record,

came to hold that digging of the well with use of blasting machine

was carried on in the field of the owner and the tractor was used

for digging of the well with the blasting machine.   Thereafter, it

proceeded to deal with fixing of the liability and the quantum of

the   compensation.   On   the   first   aspect,   it   took   note   of   the

submission advanced on behalf of the insurer that the owner had

committed   breach   of   the   policy   by   using   the   tractor   for

commercial use.  To bolster the said stance, the insurer asserted

that   the   owner   had   not   taken   permission   from   the   competent

authority   for   carrying   on   the   blasting   work   in   his   field   and,

hence, there was violation of the policy.  On behalf of the owner,

the  stand was taken that the tractor was used for agricultural

purposes, for digging of the well was carried on for the irrigation

of the crops which work was incidental to agriculture and hence,

there was no violation of the policy.

3. The tribunal came to hold that on the basis of the material

brought on record, the vehicle was used for commercial purpose

and, therefore, there was a fundamental breach of the insurance

policy.   It   further   opined   that   the   cause   of   the   death   of   the

deceased was due to vehicular accident because of the evidence

brought   on   record.     Emphasis   was   laid   on   the   fundamental

breach of the insurance policy by the owner and, ultimately the

liability was fastened on him directing him and other respondent

to pay the compensation of Rs. 9,30,000/­ with interest at the

rate of 6% per annum from the date of the petition till realization.

4. Two   appeals   were   preferred   before   the   High   Court

challenging the award of the tribunal.  The High Court noted that

the power for trigger of the explosives came from the battery of

the   tractor   which   was   parked   nearby   and   as   explosion   took

place,   a   large   stone   flew   in   air   and   fell   on   the   head   of   the

deceased who was standing in front of a shop that was 300 ft.

away. It addressed to the concept of ‘use of motor vehicle’ and in

that context stated that the tractor, when it is stationary with the

additional   implements/machines   can   be   run   using   the   power

generated   by   its   engine   for   thrashing   and   cutting   agriculture

produce.     It   also   dwelt   upon   the   concept   that   when   a   storage

battery of a vehicle is disconnected and taken for some other use,

sometimes   it  is   used   for   other   purposes  without   disconnecting

the   battery   from   the   vehicle.     On   the   factual   issue,   the   High

Court   opined   that   the   battery   of   the   vehicle   was   still   installed

inside and the terminals were used for providing power to the use

of explosive. However, it further went on to say that the battery

was practically detached from the vehicle and was not a part of

the vehicle and on that basis ruled that use of battery for causing

explosion cannot be said to be use of  vehicle, for the vehicle was

not used for causing explosion. Eventually, it held that it could

not be said that the accident that took place had arisen out of

the use of motor vehicle as defined in Section 165 of the Act and,

therefore,   the   claim   petition   under   Section   166   was   not

maintainable. Expressing the aforesaid view, the High Court set

aside the award passed by the tribunal.

5. We   have   heard   Ms.   Aparna   Jha,   learned   counsel   for   the

appellants,   Ms.   Aishwarya   Bhati,   learned   counsel   for   the

respondent No. 2 and Mr. Abhishek Kumar, learned counsel for

the respondent No.  4. 

6. As is noticeable, the High Court has recorded a finding that

the   battery   was   practically   detached   from   the   vehicle.   The

correctness of this finding is required to be determined first. It is

necessary to note here that the tribunal has treated the accident

to be a vehicular accident and entertained the claim. As we find,

the High Court has not analyzed any evidence brought on record

to   come   to   the   conclusion   that   the   battery   of   the   vehicle   was

practically detached from the vehicle and was not a part of the

vehicle.   On   the   contrary,   the   Tribunal   had   noticed   that   the

panchnama of the tractor, Ex­42, clearly showed that the tractor

was in the field and the blasting machine was found on tractor

with   wrapped   gas   pipe   and   an   explosive   battery   found   on   the

tractor with the wooden cover.  It has referred to Ex­41 and other

oral evidence to record the finding that the blasting machine was

kept  on the  tractor driven by  the driver engaged by  the owner

and the tractor was used for digging of the well with the blasting

machine. The insurer, as is evident, had only raised a singular

plea   with   regard   to   use   of   the   tractor,   namely,   ‘commercial

purpose’ and on that foundation, it had advanced the stance that

there   had   been   fundamental   breach   of   the   insurance   policy.

Keeping in view the evidence on record, we agree with the view

expressed by the tribunal that the battery was still installed on

the   vehicle   and   the   power   was   drawn   from   the   battery   for

explosive purposes.   Having arrived at the aforesaid conclusion,

we shall proceed to deal with the concept of ‘use’ and determine

whether the accident could be regarded as a vehicle accident. 

7. Section   165   deals   with   the   claims   tribunals.   It   uses   the
word  ‘use  of  motor  vehicles’. For  the sake of completeness, we
reproduce the relevant part of the said provision:­

“Section 165. Claims Tribunals.—

(1) A State Government may, by notification in the
Official   Gazette,   constitute   one   or   more   Motor
Accidents   Claims   Tribunals   (hereafter   in   this
Chapter   referred   to   as   Claims   Tribunal)   for   such
area as may be specified in the notification for the
purpose   of   adjudicating   upon   claims   for

compensation in respect of accidents involving the
death of, or bodily injury to, persons arising out of
the   use   of   motor   vehicles,   or   damages   to   any
property of a third party so arising, or both…..”

The aforesaid provision makes it vivid that the tribunal can

adjudicate   the   claims   for  compensation  in  respect  of  accidents

arising   out   of   use   of   motor   vehicles.     Thus,   the   fundamental

requirement is that the accident should arise out of the use of

the  motor vehicle.   If there is no use of the motor vehicle, the

question of vehicular accident will not arise.

8. In this context, reference to certain definitions, as stated in

the dictionary clause would be apt.  Section 2(28) defines ‘motor

vehicle’ or ‘vehicle’. It reads as follows:­

“(28)   “motor   vehicle”   or   “vehicle”   means   any
mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon
roads   whether   the   power   of   propulsion   is
transmitted   thereto   from   an   external   or   internal
source and includes a chassis to which a body has
not   been   attached   and   a   trailer;   but   does   not
include   a   vehicle   running   upon   fixed   rails   or   a
vehicle of a special type adapted for use only in a
factory   or   in   any   other   enclosed   premises   or   a
vehicle   having   less   than   four   wheels   fitted   with
engine   capacity   of   not   exceeding   twenty­five   cubic

Section 2(44) defines ‘tractor’ to mean a motor vehicle which

is not itself constructed to carry any load (other than equipment

used for the purpose of propulsion); but excludes a road­roller.

9. Keeping the aforesaid definitions in view, we are required to

analyze whether the use of the vehicle in the manner in which it

is done can be treated as use of the vehicle to cause a vehicular

accident.   This Court in  Shivaji Dayanu Patil and another v.

Smt.   Vatschala   Uttam   More1  was   dealing   with   conceptual

meaning of the phrase “arising out of the use of motor vehicle”

as   contained   in   Section   92­A   of   the   Motor   Vehicles   Act,   1939

(hereinafter referred to as ‘the 1939 Act’). We may note with profit

that Section 92­A(1) used the words “an accident arising out of

the use of a motor vehicle” and Section 165 of the Act that has

been reproduced hereinabove also uses the words “arising out of

the use of motor vehicles”. Thus, there has been no change in

this part of the provision. 

10. In Patil’s case, there was a collision between a petrol tanker

and a tractor on the national highway as a result of which, the

petrol tanker went off the road and fell on its left side as a result

of   its   turning   turtle,   the   petrol   contained   in   it   leaked   out   and

collected nearby.  The accident took place at about 3 a.m. and at

about 7.15 a.m. an explosion took place in the said petrol tanker

resulting   in   fire   and   the   persons   who  had  assembled  near   the

1 (1991) 3 SCC 530

tanker   sustained   injuries   and   one   of   them   succumbed   to   the

injuries.   On a claim petition being filed, the tribunal dismissed

the same on the ground that the explosion could not be said to

be an accident arising out of the use of the petrol tanker and that

the provision of Section 92­A of the 1939 Act were not attracted.

It expressed the view that the accident that took place at 7.15

a.m. was an independent explosion. On appeal, the learned single

Judge of the High Court held that though at the material time the

tanker was not being driven on the highway and was lying turtle

on   its   side   on   the   highway   but   it   would   be   covered   by   the

expression ‘use’ as contemplated in Section 92­A of the 1939 Act.

In   Letters   Patent   Appeal,   the   Division   Bench   opined   that   the

expression ‘use’ of motor vehicle covers a very wide field, a field

more   extensive   than   which   might   be   called   traffic   use   of   the

motor vehicle and that the use of a vehicle is not confined to the

periods when it was in motion or was moving and that a vehicle

would   still   be   in   use   even   when   it   was   stationary.   It   had   also

expressed the view that it could not be inferred that there was no

causal relation between the earlier event and the later incident of

explosion   and   fire   and   further,   the   earlier   collision   if   not   the

cause,   was   at   least   the   main   contributory   factor   for   the

subsequent   explosion.   Being   of   this   view,   the   Division   Bench

affirmed the judgment of the learned single Judge. 

11. This Court referred to the Statement of Objects and Reasons

for   introduction   of   Section   92­A   to   Section   92­E   of   the   Motor

Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1982. Analyzing, Chapter VII­A of the

1939   Act   which   was   amended   by   Act   47   of   1982   dealt   with

“Liability without fault in certain cases”,   the Court referred to

the anatomy of Section 92­A, the purpose behind it, the concept

of   beneficial   legislation   and   proceeded   to   interpret   the   words

‘arising out of the use of motor vehicle’. Be it noted, on behalf of

the petitioners therein, a contention was raised that the tanker

had   ceased   to   be   a   mechanically   propelled   vehicle.   The   Court

relied on the decision in Newberry v. Simmonds2 wherein it was

held   that   the   motor   car   does   not   cease   to   be   a   mechanically

propelled   vehicle   upon   the   mere   removal   of   the   engine   if   the

evidence   admits   the   possibility   that   engine   may   shortly   be

replaced   and   the   moving   power   restored.     The   Court   further

referred to the authority in Smart v. Allan3 where the defendant

had brought a car for £ 2 and subsequently sold it as scrap for

30 cents. It was found that the engine was in a rusty condition
2 [1961] 2 ALL ER 318
3 [1962] 3 ALL ER 893

and was incomplete and it did not work, and there was no gear­

box   or   electric   batteries;   and   the   car   was   incapable   of   moving

under its own power, having been towed from place to place and

that   it   could   only   have   been   put   in   running   order   again   by

supplying   a   considerable   number   of   spare   parts   and   effecting

considerable repairs, the cost of which would have been out of all

proportion   to   its   value.   It   was   contended   before   the   House   of

Lords  that  every  vehicle  which starts its life as a mechanically

propelled vehicle remains as such until it is physically destroyed.

The   said   submission   was   rejected   by   Lord   Parker,   CJ   who

observed thus:­

“…   it   seems   to   me   as   a   matter   of   common   sense
that some limit must be put, and some stage must
be reached, when one can say: ‘This is so immobile
that   it   has   ceased   to   be   a   mechanically   propelled
vehicle’. Where, as in the present case, and unlike
Newberry   v.   Simmonds,   there   is   no   reasonable
prospect   of   the   vehicle   ever   being   made   mobile
again, it seems to me that, at any rate at that stage,
a vehicle has ceased to be a mechanically propelled

This   Court   agreed   with   the   aforesaid   formulation   and

reasoning and came to hold that the petrol tanker had not ceased

to be a motor vehicle.  

12. The two­Judge Bench thereafter proceeded to interpret the
expression   ‘use   of   the   motor   vehicle’,   for   it   was   urged   that   a
vehicular   accident   could   only   take   place   when   the   vehicle   is
13. Learned counsel for the petitioner therein urged for placing

a narrow meaning on the word ‘use’ by confining it to a situation

only when the vehicle is mobile.  On behalf of the respondent, it

was suggested that a wider connotation for the word ‘use’ should

be   taken   so   as   to   include   the   period   when   the   vehicle   is

stationary.   On behalf of the respondents, observations made in

Elliott v. Grey4,  Government Insurance Office of New South

Wales v. R.J. Green & Lloyd Pty. Ltd.5, Pushpa Rani Chopra

v.   Anokha   Singh6,  General   Manager,   K.S.R.T.C.   v.   S.

Satalingappa7   and  Oriental Fire and General Insurance Co.

Ltd. v. Suman Navnath Rajguru8 were pressed into service. The

Court, after referring to the decisions cited by the respondent and

the analysis made by the High Court, opined:­

“26.  …In our  opinion, the word “use” has a wider
connotation to cover the period when the vehicle is
not   moving   and   is   stationary   and   the   use   of   a
vehicle   does   not   cease   on   account   of   the   vehicle
4 [1960] 1 QB 367 : [1959] 3 All ER 733
5 (1965) 114 CLR 437
6 1975 ACJ 396 (Del HC)
7 1979 ACJ 452 (Kant HC)
8 1985 ACJ 243 (Bom HC)

having   been   rendered   immobile   on   account   of   a
breakdown or mechanical defect or accident. In the
circumstances,   it   cannot   be   said   that   the   petrol
tanker was not in the use at the time when it was
lying on its side after the collision with the truck.”

14. After so holding, the Court proceeded to consider whether

explosion   and   fire   which   caused   injuries   to   the   insured   and

eventual death of one could be said to have taken place due to an

accident arising out of the use of the motor vehicle, i.e., the petrol

tanker.   In   that   context,   the   question   of   causal   relationship

between the user of the motor vehicle and the accident which has

resulted in death or disablement arose.  Be it stated, the stand of

the   petitioner   that   the   deceased   and   the   injured   persons   were

engaged in pilferage of petrol and the explosion of fire took place

because  of  the  unlawful  activities was negatived as the finding

recorded by the tribunal on the said score had been overturned

by the learned Single Judge whose view had been approved by

the appellate Bench of the High Court.

15. The Court referred to Heyman v. Darwins Ltd.9, Union of

India v. E.B. Aaby’s Rederi A/S10  and  Samick Lines Co. Ltd.

v. Owners of the Antonis P. Lemos 11 and thereafter adverted to

9  [1942] AC 356 : [1942] 1 All ER 337
10 [1975] AC 797 : [1974] 2 All ER 874
11 [1985] 2 WLR 468

the decision of the High Court of Australia in  R.J. Green Case

wherein Lord Barwick, C.J. has stated:­

“Bearing in mind the general purpose of the Act I
think the expression ‘arising out of’ must be taken
to   require   a   less   proximate   relationship   of   the
injury   to   the   relevant   use   of   the   vehicle   than   is
required to satisfy the words ‘caused by’. It may be
that an association of the injury with the use of the
vehicle   while   it  cannot  be said that that use was
causally related to the injury may yet be enough to
satisfy the expression ‘arise out of’ as used in the
Act and in the policy.”

  The observation of Windeyer, J. that was reproduced by the

Court is to the following effect:­

“The words ‘injury caused by or arising out of the
use   of   the   vehicle’   postulate   a   causal   relationship
between   the   use   of   the   vehicle   and   the   injury.
‘Caused   by’   connotes   a   ‘direct’   or   ‘proximate’
relationship   of   cause   and   effect.   ‘Arising   out   of’
extends this to a result that is less immediate; but it
still carries a sense of consequence.”

16. The two­Judge Bench, appreciating the wider connotation,

proceeded to lay down:­

“36.  This   would   show   that   as   compared   to   the
expression “caused by”, the expression “arising out
of” has a wider connotation. The expression “caused
by” was used in Sections 95(1)(b)(i) and (ii) and 96(2)
(b)(ii)   of   the   Act.   In   Section   92­A,   Parliament,
however,   chose   to   use   the   expression   “arising   out
of” which indicates that for the purpose of awarding
compensation   under   Section   92­A,   the   causal
relationship   between   the   use   of   the   motor   vehicle

and   the   accident   resulting   in   death   or   permanent
disablement   is   not   required   to   be   direct   and
proximate and it can be less immediate. This would
imply   that   accident   should   be   connected   with   the
use   of   the   motor   vehicle   but   the   said   connection
need not be direct and immediate. This construction
of the expression “arising out of the use of a motor
vehicle”   in   Section   92­A   enlarges   the   field   of
protection   made   available   to   the   victims   of   an
accident   and   is   in   consonance   with   the   beneficial
object underlying the enactment.”

17. Thereafter, the Division Bench posed the question, whether

the accident involving explosion and fire in the petrol tanker was

connected with the use of tanker as a motor vehicle.  Concurring

with the view of the High Court, it ruled:­

“37. …In our view, in the facts and circumstances of
the present case, this question must be answered in
the affirmative. The High Court has found that the
tanker   in   question   was   carrying   petrol   which   is   a
highly   combustible   and   volatile   material   and   after
the collision with the other motor vehicle the tanker
had fallen on one of its sides on the sloping ground
resulting in escape of highly inflammable petrol and
that there was grave risk of explosion and fire from
the petrol coming out of the tanker.  In the light of
the  aforesaid circumstances the learned Judges of
the   High   Court   have   rightly   concluded   that   the
collision between the tanker  and the other vehicle
which had occurred earlier and the escape of petrol
from   the   tanker   which   ultimately   resulted   in   the
explosion and fire were not unconnected but related
events   and   merely   because   there   was   interval   of
about four to four and half hours between the said
collision and the explosion and fire in the tanker, it
cannot   be   necessarily   inferred   that   there   was   no
causal   relation   between   explosion   and   fire.  In   the

circumstances,   it   must  be  held  that   the  explosion
and   fire   resulting   in   the   injuries   which   led  to   the
death of Deepak Uttam More was due to an accident
arising out of the use of the motor vehicle viz. the
petrol tanker No. MKL 7461.”
[Emphasis supplied]

The aforesaid analysis throws immense light to understand

the concept of “related events” and “causal relation”. They have

been   distinguished   from   an   event   which   is   not   connected.

Needless to say, the appreciation of causal relation is a question

of fact in each case and is to be weighed and appreciated on the

basis of the materials brought on record. 

18. In Union of India v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. and

others12, a two­Judge Bench has opined that the words ‘use of

the   motor   vehicle’   is   to  be  construed in  a wider  manner.   The

learned Judges referred to the decision in  Patil’s  case wherein

reference was made to the Australian case in R.J. Green (supra)

and to the observations of Lord Barwick, C.J. that those words

have   to   be   widely   construed.   The   Court,   in   the   latter   case,

referred to the observations of Windeyer, J. in R.J. Green’s case

which read thus:­

  “… no sound reason was given for restricting the
phrase, ‘the use of a motor vehicle’ in this way. The
12 (1997) 8 SCC 683

only limitation upon it … that I can see is that the
injury must be one  in any way a consequence of a
use of the vehicles as a motor vehicle.”

The   aforesaid   passage   emphasizes   on   “consequence   of   a

use”. It is equated with a “related event”. 

19. The aforesaid view has been reiterated in Samir Chanda v.

Managing Director, Assam State Transport Corporation13.  In

the   said   case,   a   bomb   exploded   inside   the   bus   as   a   result   of

which the appellant sustained serious injuries on his legs.   The

tribunal passed an award in favour of the claimant.   In appeal

preferred by the respondent, the High Court, while not disturbing

the finding of the tribunal on facts, expressed the view that there

was no negligence on the part of the owner or the driver of the

vehicle and, therefore, the question of paying compensation did

not arise.  This Court referred to Patil’s case and placing reliance

on the same, opined:­

“14. … The explosion took place inside the bus is an
admitted  fact  and  the usual police escort was not
there. The High Court, except observing that there
was no negligence, has not upset the finding of the
Tribunal that the atmosphere during the period of
accident was so polluted requiring care on the part
of   the   conductor   and the  driver  of  the bus. There
cannot be any doubt that the accident arose out of

13 (1998) 6 SCC 605

the use of the motor vehicle justifying the claim of
the appellant.” 

20.   The decision in  United India Insurance Co. Ltd.  (supra)

has ruled that if it is ultimately found that there is no negligence

on the part of the driver of the vehicle or there is no defect in the

vehicle but the accident is only due to the sole negligence of the

other parties/agencies, then on that finding, the claim would go

out   of   Section   110(1)   of   the   1939   Act   because   the   case   would

then become one of exclusive negligence of the Railways. Again if

the   accident   had   arisen   only   on   account   of   the   negligence   of

persons   other   than   the   driver/owner   of   the   motor   vehicle,   the

claim would not be maintainable before the tribunal.

21. The   said   opinion   has   been   overruled   by   a   three­Judge

Bench decision in  Union of India v. Bhagwati Prasad (Dead)

and   others14.   We   have   placed   reliance   on   the   Division   Bench

judgment,   as   we   are   really   not   concerned   about   the   overruled

part.  However, we may note with profit that Bhagwati Prasad’s

case   expands   the   horizon   of   the   jurisdiction   of   the   Motor

Accidents Claims Tribunal by stating that a combined reading of

Sections 110 and 110­A, which deal with the constitution of one

14 (2002) 3 SCC 661

or   more   Motor   Accidents   Claims   Tribunals   and   application   for

compensation   arising   out   of   an   accident,   as   specified   in   sub­

section (1) of Section 110 unequivocally indicates that the Claims

Tribunal would have the jurisdiction to entertain application for

compensation   both   by   the   persons   injured   or   legal

representatives of the deceased when the accident arose out of

the   use   of   a   motor   vehicle.   The   crucial   expression   conferring

jurisdiction   upon   the   Claims   Tribunal   constituted   under   the

Motor   Vehicles   Act   is   the   accident   arising   out   of   the   use   of   a

motor vehicle and, therefore, if there has been a collision between

the motor vehicle and railway train then all those persons injured

or legal representatives of the deceased could make application

for compensation before the Claims Tribunal not only against the

owner, driver or insurer of the motor vehicle but also against the

Railway Administration. Once such an application is held to be

maintainable and the tribunal entertains such an application, if

in course of enquiry the tribunal comes to a finding that it is the

other   joint   tortfeasor   connected   with   the   accident   who   was

responsible and not the owner or driver of the motor vehicle then

the   tribunal   cannot   be   held   to   be   denuded   of   its   jurisdiction

which it had initially. In other words, in such a case also tribunal

would be entitled to award compensation against the other joint


22. From   the   aforesaid   authorities,   it   is   limpid   that   the

expression ‘use of the vehicle’ under certain circumstances can

be attracted when the vehicle is stationary or static.   A Division

Bench of the High Court of Orissa in Kanhei Rana and another

v.   Gangadhar   Swain   and   others15  while   dealing   with   a

situation   where   the   deceased   labourer   after   loading   the   truck

with logs lost his life.   The tribunal had categorically found that

death was  on  the account of fall of a log, when the truck was

being loaded with logs.  The learned Single Judge, in appeal, had

concurred with the view of the tribunal by opining that the fall of

the   log   had   no   nexus   with   the   use   of   the   vehicle   not   even

remotely, and there was no material to show that the fall of the

log was occasioned due to use of the vehicle. He had further held

that the careless handling of goods being loaded on or unloaded

from a vehicle had no connection to the vehicle itself. Reversing

the  conclusion of the learned single Judge, the Division Bench

opined   that  the   concept  of movement being not intrinsically or

inherently connected with the use and the term ‘use’ having been

15 AIR 1993 ORI 89

connotatively expanded, there can be no doubt that the same can

also be extended to the arena/sphere of a claim advanced under

Section 110 of the 1939 Act. Heavy onus is cast on the driver to

avoid negligence while the vehicle is in use. If the term ‘use’ in its

conceptual   sweep   engulfs   no   motion   or   no   movement   or

stationariness, then by logical corollary it is made essential that

the driver or for that matter any agent of the owner should be

careful and non­negligent. Negligence in driving is regarded as a

fact   that   the   vehicle   is   in   motion.   But   the   definition   of   ‘use’

having been expanded in its broader canvas, it has to clothe in

its   sweep   other   categories   of   negligence.   To   elaborate,   when   a

vehicle   remains   static,   it   cannot   constitute   that   the   driver   is

negligent   because   of   his   rash   and   negligent   driving.   On   the

contrary,   it   has   to   embody   some   other   different   types   of

negligence.   Of   course   that   would   depend   upon   the   facts   and

circumstances   of   each   case.   The   Division   Bench   of   the   High

Court   went   on   to   say   that   the   apex   Court   in  Patil  (supra)

was dealing with the negligence so far as it was concerned with

Section 92 of the Act, but as the language of Section 92­A and

Section 110 of the old Act used the same phraseology and there

is   absence   of   any   etymological   distinction,   the   same

meaning should be given to the expression under Section 110 of

the   old   Act.   The   appellate   Bench   held   that

there   was   causal   relationship   with   the   accident   which   had

resulted in the death of the claimant.

23. We   entirely   agree   with   the   aforesaid   analysis,   for   it   is   in

accord with the view of the decisions of this Court.

24. It may be reiterated here that the causal relationship should

exist between violation and the accident caused. There has to be

some act done by the person concerned in causing the accident.

The   commission   or   omission   must   have   some   nexus   with   the

accident.  The word ‘use’ as has been explained by the authorities

of this Court need not have an intimate and direct nexus with the

accident.   The Court has to bear in mind that the phraseology

used by the legislature is “accident arising out of use of the motor

vehicle”.   The   scope   has   been   enlarged   by   such   use   of   the

phraseology and this Court taking note of the beneficial provision

has placed a wider meaning on the same. There has to be some

causal relation or the incident must relate to it. It should not be

totally unconnected. Therefore, in each case what is required to

be seen is whether there has been some causal relation or the

event is related to the act. 

25. Presently, we shall scrutinse the factual score in the case at

hand. As is evincible, the battery was installed in the tractor and

the explosives were charged by the battery.  The purpose was to

dig the well in the field. In such an obtaining factual matrix, it

would be an erroneous perception to say that the vehicle was not

in use as stipulated under Section 165 of the Act. Hence, we have

no hesitation in holding that the Division Bench has fallen into

error on the said score. 

26. Having said that, we have to presently analyse on whom the

liability   should   be   mulcted.   As   is   evident,   the   insurer   has

advanced   the  plea that  the tractor  was insured under  “Farmer

Package   Policy”   for   agriculture   purpose   by   the   owner   of   the

vehicle.   However,   it   was   used   for   commercial   purpose   by

mounting a blasting machine thereon.  That use was in breach of

insurance policy and, therefore, the insurer was not liable to pay

the   compensation.   The   insurer   also   examined   its   employee,

namely, Mr. Chararkar to establish the fact that the owner of the

vehicle had committed breach of insurance policy by using it for

commercial purpose and for transporting the blasting machine.

The   tribunal   has   adverted   to   the   plea   of   the   insured   that   the

vehicle was used for digging of the well in the field of respondent

No.   1   (Fimidabee   w/o   Abdul   Gaffar)   which   obviously   was   for

irrigation and incidental to agricultural activity and not in breach

of the insurance policy. The rival contention in this behalf has

been considered by the tribunal in the following words:­ 

“29.   The   Respondent   No.2   has   admitted   the   fact
that   Insurance   Policy   of   offending   tractor   was   for
the   agricultural   purpose.     The   insurance   of
offending tractor was taken at Jaipur, Rajasthan. It
was   brought   for   commercial   activity   namely   the
blasting work. The blasting machine was found on
the   tractor.   No   permission   from   Competent
Authority   was   taken   for   the   blasting   work   and
therefore, the Respondent No.2 has used tractor for
commercial   purpose   and   consequently   there   was
fundamental   breach   of   the   Insurance   Policy.   The
Respondent No.2 committed fundamental breach of
the Insurance Policy allowing the use of tractor for
commercial   purpose   and   therefore,   the   decision
cited supra is inapplicable.”

And   again   in   paragraphs   35,   36   and   37,   the   tribunal   has
“35. The Respondent No. 1 has come with the case
that digging work with blasting operation was given
with sole responsibility of Respondent Nos. 2 and 3.
The Respondent Nos. 2 and 3 have come with the
case that blasting work for digging of well was taken
at   the   risk   of   Respondent   No.1   to   3   have   not
produced   documentary   evidence   showing   that
digging   work   of   well   with   blasting   operation   was
being   done   on   the   sole   responsibility   either   of
Respondent No.1 or of the respondent Nos. 2 and 3.
In absence of such evidence, the Respondent Nos. 1
to   3   are   jointly   and   severally   liable   to   pay

36. It was submitted on behalf of Respondent No.4
that   Respondent   No.2   committed   fundamental
breach of Instruction Policy by using the tractor for
commercial   purpose   and   therefore,   Respondent
No.4   cannot   be   directed   to   make   the   payment   to
petitioners and recover the same from the owner of
offending tractor.
             xxx xxx xxx
37.   The   Respondent   No.2   allowed   the   use   of
offending   tractor   for   doing   the   blasting   work   and
therefore   there   was   fundamental   breach   of   the
Insurance   Policy.   Since   there   was   fundamental
breach   of   the   Insurance   Policy   for   using   the
offending   tractor   for   commercial   purpose   and
consequently, Respondent No. 4 is not liable to pay
the compensation and directed to pay the same and
recover the same from Respondent No. 2 owner of
offending tractor. 
                    xxx xxx xxx”

The High Court, however, has not analysed this issue at all,

for it took the view that as the vehicle was not used for causing

explosion, it could not be said that the accident had arisen out of

use of motor vehicle as defined under Section 165 of the Act.

27. From the factual position as already analysed earlier, it is

noticed that the battery of the tractor was used for digging of well

in   a   field   used   for   agricultural   purpose.   The   insured   had

contended   that   the   work   of   digging   of   well   in   a   field   used   for

agricultural purpose would embrace an activity associated with

agriculture for irrigating the field and we have answered the same

in   the   affirmative.   We   may   immediately   state   that   our   answer

does not help in fastening the liability because there has been no

analysis as regards the terms and conditions of the policy and its

fundamental   character.   The  High   Court,   as  we  notice,  has   not

dealt   with   any   of   these   matters,   the   adjudication   whereof   has

now become inevitable to answer the issue about the liability to

be   borne   by   the   insurer,   the   owner   of   the   vehicle   (insured)   or

otherwise.   This   adjudication   requires   analysis   of   relevant

material   including   the   insurance   policy   and   evidence   of

concerned witnesses, for understanding the terms and conditions

of the policy regard being had to nature of policy and the extent

of the liability of the insurer, if any. As the High Court has not

considered this aspect at all, we deem it appropriate to relegate

the parties to the High Court for determining the singular issue

about fastening of the liability on the insurer or the owner of the

vehicle.   Under   these   circumstances,   we   are   of   the   considered

opinion   that   until   that   issue   is   finally   decided,   the   insurance

company   must   pay   the   compensation   amount   payable   to   the

claimants as determined by the tribunal in terms of the award

dated 5th  January, 2008, which payment will be subject to the

outcome   of   the   remanded   appeals   to   be   decided   by   the   High

Court.  Needless to state that the claimants need not contest the

remanded   proceedings   before   the   High   Court   as   it   is   remitted

only   for   limited   purpose   to   determine  the   liability   amongst  the

insurer   (United   India   Assurance   Co.   Ltd.)   and   owner   of   the

vehicle, Kanhaiyalal. 

28.  In view of the aforesaid analysis, we partly allow both the

appeals,   set   aside   the   judgment   of   the   High   Court   dated   10 th

October, 2013 in First Appeal Nos. 494 of 2013 and 437 of 2008

and restore both the First Appeals to the file of the High Court to

their   original  numbers   for being decided on the question as to

who should be made liable to pay the compensation amount as

determined   by   the   tribunal   to   be   paid   to   the   claimants.     We

request the High Court to decide the First Appeals expeditiously,

with   reference   to   the   limited   issue   of   liability   to   pay

compensation.  In terms of this order, the insurance company is

directed to deposit the compensation amount before the tribunal

within eight weeks hence, which will be without prejudice to the

rights   and   contentions   of   the   insurance   company   in   the

remanded   First   Appeals.   In   the   event   the   insurance   company

succeeds, it will have the right to recover the same with interest

accrued   thereon   from   the   owner   of   the   vehicle.   The   amount

deposited by the insurance company shall be disbursed by the

tribunal keeping in view the law laid down in General Manager,

Kerala   State   Road   Transport   Corporation,   Trivandrum   v.

Susamma Thomas and others16. 

29. In the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be no

order as to costs. 

(Dipak Misra)

(A.M. Khanwilkar)

                          (Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud)
New Delhi;
03 July, 2018

16 (1994) 2 SCC 176


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