The number of people who get killed in motor vehicle accidents is growing day by day. The main source to such helpless people and their dependants is the compensation that they are entitled to receive under law. But right from 1956, motor accident compensation law has been in a state of flux. It was in that year that the legislature amended the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 by inserting several new sections. Over the years, many more amendments followed and in 1988, a new Motor Vehicles Act replaced the old one. There are various new rights created by the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 for claiming compensation in case of any death or bodily injury caused in an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle.
Over the years, the judiciary has not only been called upon from time to time to interpret these statutory provisions and apply them to different facts and situations, but also to lay down the legal principles for assessing compensation. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 does not provide any guidelines for the identification of the items of loss to be compensated; nor does it lay down any criteria for the computation of the quantum of compensation for each item of loss. The author has successfully dealt with such and other important questions.
Comprehensive view of the provision of the Act
An attempt has been made to make a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Motor Accident Compensation Law as per the new Act of 1988. An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to motor vehicles. It be enacted by parliament in the Thirty-ninth Year of the Republic of India as follows .The objective and Reason for the act were, the motor vehicles Act, 1939 (4 of 1939), consolidates and amends the law relating to motor vehicles. This has been amended several times to keep it up to date. The need was, however, felt that this Act should, now inter alia, take into account also changes in the road transport technology, pattern of passenger and freight movements, developments, of the road network in the country and particularly the improved techniques in the motor vehicles management.
Various Committees, like, National Transport Policy Committee, National Police Commission, Road Safety Committee, Low Powered Two ,Wheelers Committee, as also the Law Commission have gone into different aspects of road transport. They have recommended updating, simplification and rationalization of this law. Several Members of Parliament have also urged for comprehensive review of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, to make it relevant to the modern – day requirements. A Working Group was, therefore, constituted in January, 1984 to review all the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 and to submit draft proposals for a comprehensive legislation to replace the existing Act. This Working Group took into account the suggestions and recommendations earlier made by various bodies and institutions like Central Institute of Road Transport.
After the coming into force of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Government received a number of representations and suggestions from the state govt. transport operators and members of public regarding the inconvenience faced by them because of the operation of some of the provisions of the 1988 Act.
There has been important suggestions made by the Transport Development Council relate to, are the introduction of newertype of vehicles and fast increasing number of both commercial and personal vehicles in the country. Providing adequate compensation to victims of road accidents without going into longdrawn procedure, Protecting consumers’ interest in Transport Sector, concern for road safety standards, transport of hazardous chemicals and pollution controldelegation of greater powers to State Transport Authorities and rationalising the role of public authorities in certain matters, the simplification of procedures and policy liberalisation in the field of Road Transport,enhancing penalties for traffic offenders.
Report had recommended that every application for a claim be made to the Claims Tribunal having jurisdiction over the area in which the accident occurred or to the Claims Tribunal within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the claimant resides or carries on business or within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant resides, at the option of the claimant.The bill also makes necessary provision to give effectto the said recommendation.
The Motor Vehicle Act 1988 suggests various rules and regulation for the public and it has a huge importance in the traffic regulation, so that the system goes systematically and in a proper way. If any of the rules are violated there are serious punishments. This Act ensures everyone gets treated in a fair manner and to avoid disaster accidents.
Full text of "Motor vehicle Act 1988" available here