In a recent judgment, the Bombay High Court held that the bursting of a tyre is attributable to the driver’s negligence and does not constitute an act of God. Accordingly, the court ordered that the appellant, New India Assurance Co. Ltd. was liable to pay compensation to the claimants.
In the year 2010, the vehicle in which the deceased and his friend were travelling, overturned due to the bursting of the vehicle’s tyre. Thereafter, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Pune held that the accident was due to the driver’s negligence and awarded compensation to the claimants.
The present appeal has been filed before the Bombay High Court challenging the order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. Referring to the dictionary meaning of the phrase, “act of God”, the court specified that it pertains to a “severe, unanticipated natural event for which no human is responsible”. It was expressed that a tyre burst could be due to numerous reasons such as driving at high speed, use of under-inflated, over-inflated or second-hand tyres, etc. and it is the responsibility of the driver or owner of the vehicle to ensure that the vehicle’s tyres are in good condition before travelling. With this, the court opined that the bursting of a tyre is attributable to human negligence and does not constitute an act of God.
The appellant further contended that the tribunal wrongly included allowances such as medical allowances, education allowances & LTR allowances as part of the deceased victim’s salary and that the compensation awarded to the claimants (respondents herein) was “exorbitant and excessive”. The court dismissed this contention stating that as per the law, only income tax and professional tax have to be deducted in determining the salary of the deceased (i.e., allowances need not be deducted).
Hence, the appeal was partly allowed by the Bombay High Court vide order dated February 17, 2023, and a compensation amount of Rs.1,24,60,960/- at the rate of interest of 7.5% per annum was awarded to the claimants.