SC issues order to make motor accident claims consumer-friendly

The Supreme Court has directed the government to use technology, online payment mode and email communication to develop a consumer-friendly mechanism with regard to motor accident claims.

The top court said this mechanism can be deployed between the police, insurance companies and the tribunals, which deal with such cases.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) J.K. Sud sought time to work out the time period within which the directions of the court can be implemented, and also the necessary infrastructure can be created.

The top court gave its consent to a slew of directions for the adoption of a uniform practice across the country.

According to one of the directions mentioned by the ASG, “The jurisdictional police station shall report the accident under Section 158(6) of the Act (Section 159 post 2019 amendment) to the tribunal and the insurer within first 48 hours either over email or a dedicated website.”

A bench compromising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy said: “We must notice at the inception that considerable work has occurred on account of the inter se discussion between the stakeholders, coordinated by Jayant K. Sudwe to appreciate the positive attitude of all the stakeholders to streamline the process.”

For a detailed accident report, the ASG said the tribunal shall issue summons along with the report or the application for compensation, as the case may be, to the insurer by email.

Sud proposed an online platform accessible to the tribunals, police authorities and insurers across India.

The top court noted that Tamil Nadu and Delhi have already progressed from having email accounts for submission of accident reports by the police to the tribunal and the insurer, to operating an online platform/website for submission of accident report under Section 159.

The top court observed that each state government having an independent online platform for submission of accident reports, claims and responses to claims, will hamper efficient adjudication of the claims.

“Therefore, the Central government shall develop an online platform accessible to the tribunals, police authorities and insurers throughout India,” the top court said.

The Supreme Court also said that after the accident, the police should collect and verify the relevant documents for computation of compensation.

“These documents shall form part of the report. It shall email the report to the tribunal and the insurer within three months. Similarly, the claimants may also be permitted to email the application for compensation with supporting documents, under Section 166, to the tribunal and the insurer within the same time,” the top court noted.

After passing the award, the insurer should get an authenticated copy by email, which should satisfy the award by depositing the amount into a bank account maintained by the tribunal by the RTGS or NEFT.

The top court will conduct further hearing on the matter on May 4.