By M.C. Linthoingambee
Once there was a news flash. It was that of a 10 year old boy being run over by the school bus on his way home. Was he badly injured? Whose fault was it? Who was to blame? Such questions were but natural given the variant increase in the number of accidents happening around the world. It happens all around us. So, what can we do to prevent such incidences or to hold some accountability?
Coming back to the story of Ali, a boy 10 years of age was coming back from school with his brother Bharat, 12 years of age. When the bus reached their usual bus stand, the driver stopped the bus and both the boys were getting off. Eventually the driver started driving off when Ali’s left leg was still inside the bus. As a result, he was dragged down and crushed from the abdomen part of his body by the back/rear tyre of the bus. He was immediately rushed to the hospital and the doctors declared him paralyzed from the waist down. It was indeed a tragic story of a family. The mother went into a state of shock, causing her to have a mental breakdown. As someone reading the news report, one is left imagining how the boy’s life would be like.
Today, after a decade, he is still unable to do anything that boys of his age do easily: kick a ball, walk on his feet or cycle etc. After being swamped with expensive medical bills, his father has exhausted his entire savings worth lakhs in the hope of keeping his son alive. Being a mere wage earner, he has had to give up his earlier job since he has to tend to his injured son all the time. As for Bharat, he goes to college now. For the most part, he has struggled the most with both his parents` attention shifting to his little brother. But, as the eldest he has worked hard and got into the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi on a scholarship.
Ten years ago, the driver had been convicted for “Rash and Negligent Driving”. Here, `Rash and Negligent Driving` falls under the gamut of an act wherein the bearer of the vehicle has not taken safety precautions and due measure as he ought to have. Under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code, a person causing death in the process of performing a “Rash and Negligent Act” becomes liable for punishment for a period not exceeding two years or fine, or both which is only applicable if the convict had not done the act intentionally. But Ali had not died but become permanently physically disabled for his life with the unlikely result of being compensated for all his lost days of youth.
Here, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 provides for a set of laws dealing with that of Motor Vehicles and related areas. Section 165 of the Motor Vehicles Act defines the Claims Tribunal where one can go to in aid for any inference caused by that of a Motor Vehicle. This section gives power to the State Government to set up a Motor Vehicles Claim Tribunal with a notification to an Official Gazette (A Competent Authority) to set up such a Tribunal to give compensation or aid for those actions which has resulted bodily injury or death by the course of the specified motor vehicles. Such a Tribunal exists in Manipur at one of the buildings associated with the DC Office; therefore one can seek aid with assistance from a person of legal knowledge (Lawyer, Advocate, etc).
In manners claiming for compensation, Section 166 deals with the application of such. Wherein this section states the authorities from which compensation can be sought in manners of four: One, by the person who inflicted such injury; Two, by the owner of the property; Three, where death has resulted from the actions of the injury; Four, by the agent duly authorized by law to represent the two of the above or by a legal representative of the deceased.
In the present case, the result of “Permanent Disablement” has also been referred to under Section 142. Permanent Disablement is the result in which a person has been inflicted with the unlikely results of permanent injury in eye sight, hearing, injuries regarding any part of body wherein causing even amputation or destruction; any disfiguring of the head or the face also comes into the category. This cases cause the origin of a “Handicap”, with the impediment of self reliance on the guardian or a caretaker for the rest of his life. It hampers on the daily functioning. Therefore, section 140 gives provisions for the liability of giving compensation to persons in nature of the above.
Ali got his compensation but it had not been enough. The compensation was sought not with the intention of making a fortune out of an unfortunate accident. Infact, it could be humbly submitted that the boy only gets his fair share. He lives on, breathes as we do, but the chances of him ever getting back on his feet is dim.
Cases like Ali’s goes on everyday out of which, some are unheard or either goes undisclosed or locked away in some piles of paper. Some lay stuck in the thick piles of files with no proper attention and the fees piling upon a person’s mere wage. It is one of the grey areas that one should seek to amend to help the furtherance of remedy. Today, cases of hit and run, driving recklessly, driving at extensive speed, etc and their outcomes have resolved faith into oblivion of terror on the streets. There are always those mindless no good doers who often get away with such accidents.
In our state, as much as it pains to admit but such actions are not properly countered or catered to. A person, even a minor drives a Motor Vehicle with the means to load free if any accidents occur. It is humbly submitted that we become more aware of our actions and the Driving License may only be procured with necessary test and cautions.
(M.C. Linthoingambee is an undergraduate pursuing B.Com. LL.B(H). An avid blogger, poet, a seasonal artist and a foodie, she is also a life member to the Indian Society of the Red Cross.)