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CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 9929-30 OF 2014 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NOS…29128-29129 OF 2014 (CC NOS.4232-4233 OF 2014) KULWANT SINGH & ORS. ….. APPELLANTS VERSUS ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LTD. ….. RESPONDENTS

NON-REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 9927-28 OF 2014
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NOS.1499-1500 OF 2014)

WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 9929-30 OF 2014
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NOS…29128-29129 OF 2014
(CC NOS.4232-4233 OF 2014)
KULWANT SINGH & ORS. ….. APPELLANTS

VERSUS

ORIENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY LTD. ….. RESPONDENTS

J U D G M E N T
ADARSH KUMAR GOEL J.
1. Delay condoned in SLP (C) No………of 2014 [CC. Nos.4232-4233 of 2014].
2. Leave granted in all the matters.
3. These appeals have been preferred against common judgment and Order
dated 5th August, 2011 in MAC Appeal Nos.70 and 68 of 2011 and dated 8th
March, 2013 in Review Petition Nos.793 and 776 of 2011 respectively of the
High Court of Delhi at New Delhi.
4. The question raised for consideration is whether the Insurance
Company is entitled to recovery rights on the ground of breach of
conditions of insurance policy when the driver possesses valid driving
licence for driving light vehicle but fails to obtain endorsement for
driving goods vehicle.
5. The claim petition was filed before the Motor Accident Claims
Tribunal by the dependents of the deceased Rizwan S/o Kadir @ Abdul Kadir
who died in a road accident on 8th October, 2005 at about 05.30 A.M. while
driving Tempo No.HR-G-5234 which was hit by a Tempo (Tata-407) bearing
No.DL-1L-D3186. The Tribunal held that the death was on account of
negligence of the driver of the offending Tempo (Tata-407) bearing No.DL-1L-
D3186 and the claimants were entitled to compensation. The vehicle was
insured with the Insurance Company and the driver was having valid driving
licence. The offending vehicle was ‘light goods vehicle’. The Insurance
Company preferred an appeal before the High Court with the plea that it was
entitled to recovery rights as the driving licence (Exhibit R3W1) was for
driving ‘light motor vehicle’. It could not be equated with ‘light goods
vehicle’. The High Court observed :
“Driving licence of the driver was for driving a light motor vehicle. In
no manner can it be said that a light motor vehicle can be equated with a
light goods vehicle. In this scenario, it is clear that there was a breach
of the policy condition and driver of the vehicle did not have a valid and
effective driving licence at the time of the accident. Recovery rights
should have been granted by the Tribunal against the owner. The award is
modified. Recovery rights are granted in favour of the Insurance Company.”

6. Aggrieved by the Judgment of the High Court, the appellants-the
owners of the vehicle in question have come up before this Court.
7. Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the High Court
erred in holding that licence for driving light motor vehicle entitled the
driver to drive ‘light goods vehicle’. Reliance has been placed on the
Judgments of this Court in S. Iyyapan vs. United India Insurance Company
Limited and Another[1] and National Insurance Company Ltd. vs. Annappa
Irappa Nesaria Alias Nesearagi and Others[2] . Thus, there was no breach
of policy entitling the Insurance Company to recovery rights against the
owner. Learned counsel for the Insurance Company supported the view taken
by the High Court.
8. We have considered the rival submissions and perused the judgments
relied upon.
9. We find the judgments relied upon cover the issue in favour of the
appellants. In Annappa Irappa Nesaria (supra), this Court referred to
the provisions of Section 2(21) and (23) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988,
which are definitions of ‘light motor vehicle’ and ‘medium goods vehicle’
respectively and the rules prescribing the forms for the licence, i.e. Rule
14 and Form No.4. It was concluded :
“20. From what has been noticed hereinbefore, it is evident that “transport
vehicle” has now been substituted for “medium goods vehicle” and “heavy
goods vehicle”. The light motor vehicle continued, at the relevant point of
time to cover both “light passenger carriage vehicle” and “light goods
carriage vehicle”. A driver who had a valid licence to drive a light motor
vehicle, therefore, was authorised to drive a light goods vehicle as well.”

10. In S. Iyyapan (supra), the question was whether the driver who had a
licence to drive ‘light motor vehicle’ could drive ‘light motor vehicle’
used as a commercial vehicle, without obtaining endorsement to drive a
commercial vehicle. It was held that in such a case, the Insurance Company
could not disown its liability. It was observed :
“18. In the instant case, admittedly the driver was holding a valid driving
licence to drive light motor vehicle. There is no dispute that the motor
vehicle in question, by which accident took place, was Mahindra Maxi Cab.
Merely because the driver did not get any endorsement in the driving
licence to drive Mahindra Maxi Cab, which is a light motor vehicle, the
High Court has committed grave error of law in holding that the insurer is
not liable to pay compensation because the driver was not holding the
licence to drive the commercial vehicle. The impugned judgment (Civil Misc.
Appeal No.1016 of 2002, order dated 31.10.2008 (Mad) is, therefore, liable
to be set aside.”

No contrary view has been brought to our notice.
Accordingly, we are of the view that there was no breach of any condition
of insurance policy, in the present case, entitling the Insurance Company
to recovery rights.
Accordingly, we allow these appeals, set aside the impugned order of the
High Court and restore that of the Tribunal. There will be no order as to
costs.

……..…………………………….J.
[ V. GOPALA GOWDA ]

.….………………………………..J.
NEW DELHI [ ADARSH KUMAR GOEL ]
October 28, 2014
———————–
[1] (2013) 7 SCC 62
[2] (2008) 3 SCC 464

———————–
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