With India accounting for the largest number of road accident deaths globally, research body IFTRT has approached the Road Ministry to make the accident claim settlement process simple, time-bound and least expensive for victims’ families and dependents.

Citing the recent decision of the Daily Lok Adalat of Punjab and Haryana High Court, allowing compensation of ₹66.3 lakh in an accident death case, IFTRT said the amount was six times higher than that awarded by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (MACT).

There is no upper limit defined in such cases, according to SP Singh, Senior Fellow, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT). The present  criteria in MV Act is to fix the compensation to accident victims by relying on age, education, income and dependence, which is based on natural justice.

The judgement of the Lok Adalat of Punjab and Haryana High Court awarding higher compensation aims to oppose a move to cap under law the compensation to accident victims, as proposed in the Road Transport and Safety Bill.

The court’s decision puts the spotlight back on the Centre’s proposal to cap the compensation to ₹15-20 lakh, as stated in the draft version of Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, which was revised in 2015.

At a time when the law is being strengthened for effectively mandating third party motor insurance policy and government looks to bring down the road accidents; the revenue of insurers should increase and their claim outgo should drop. If insurance companies invest in driver training and refresher courses regularly, the safe driving habits inculcated by them will further lower the compensation outgo, it added.

The way forward should be to reform the procedure to settle the claim before MACTs and fix the mandatory timelines to pay the compensation on merit of each case.

In this context, IFTRT has called for a debate in the larger interest of hapless families of accident victims, many of whom have nothing to do with an insurance agreement between a vehicle-owner and the insurer.

“We trust government will review its present stance and oblige. The IFTRT  is fully  committed  to assist  the government  in this endeavour as any amendment  in MV Act shall  be brought  before the Parliamentary Standing  Committee  on Transport, Tourism and Culture as well,” it added.