Third party insurance for two, four-wheelers should be mandatory: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday said third party insurance of four-wheelers and two-wheelers be made "mandatory" so that victims of road accidents could get compensation and insurance firms should look into it from a "human point of view" and not from the commercial point.

The apex court said this while referring to the recommendations of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety and observed that over one lakh people were dying in India every year in road accidents.

The committee, headed by former apex court judge Justice K S Radhakrishnan, has recommended that at the time of sale of two or four wheelers, third party insurance should be made mandatory for a period of five and three years respectively instead of one year.

In its report, the committee has said that around 180 million vehicles were plying on the roads of the country out of which only 60 million have third party insurance, and victims of road accidents were not getting the compensation as vehicles do not have third party cover.

The panel also said they had detailed discussions with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and the Department of Finance about it.

The bench said that third party insurance should be made mandatory for four wheelers for a period of three years and for two wheelers, it should be done for five years.

"Third party insurance has to be mandatory," it said.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for IRDA said that third party insurance should not be made mandatory and the authority was also looking into the issue and they would take around eight months time to decide on it.

"You are looking at it from the point of insurance companies. Now, there are people who are dying and there are people who have already died in road accidents. Number of deaths in road accidents is more than one lakh per year in India. Three people are dying per minute in road accidents," the bench said.

"Look at it from human point of view and not from your commercial interest. Do it within a reasonable time of two-three weeks. Look at the people of India who are dying in road accidents. People are not getting money because of insurance companies are taking so much time. You do it within four weeks. You cannot take eight months," it said.

The apex court asked the IRDA to take a decision on the issue on or before September 1.

During the hearing, an advocate, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, referred to the report of the committee and said that third party insurance should be made mandatory.

The apex court had in November last year issued a slew of directions on road safety and asked all states and union territories (UTs) to set up a trauma centre in each district of the country and make safety norms part of the school curriculum.

The court is hearing a petition filed by Coimbatore-based surgeon S Rajaseekaran which was treated as a PIL by the apex court. The apex court had on April 22, 2014, constituted a committee on road safety which has submitted several reports in the court.

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