17 July 1996
Supreme Court


Bench: SINGH N.P. (J)
Case number: C.A. No.-009368-009369 / 1996
Diary number: 70268 / 1987
Advocates: Vs A. T. M. SAMPATH






DATE OF JUDGMENT:       17/07/1996


CITATION:  1996 SCC  (5)  21        JT 1996 (6)   728  1996 SCALE  (5)388



JUDGMENT:                       J U D G M E N T N.P. SINGH, J      Leave granted.      An accident  took place  on 8th  June  1980  at  Panaji between a  bus bearing  No. DLP-5843 and scooter bearing No. GDC-9713, as  a result  whereof one Dr. P. Ramachandra Reddy who was  driving the  scooter fell down and succumbed to the injuries, the  same day.  A claim  petition was filed before the Motor  Accident Claims Tribunal by respondent Nos. 1 and 2 claiming  compensation. The  appellant is the owner of the bus which  had been insured by respondent No.3, the Oriental Fire and  General  Insurance  Company  Limited  (hereinafter referred to as the ’Insurance Company’).      According  to   the  claimants,  the  respondent  No.4, Rajinder Pal  Singh who was the cleaner/conductor of the bus was driving  the bus  at the relevant time when the accident took place  resulting into  the death  of Dr.P.  Ramachandra Reddy, on  account of  his rash  and negligent  driving. The claim for  compensation was resisted by the appellant (owner of the  vehicle) contending  that  when  the  accident  took place, the  bus  was  driven  by  Gurbachan  Singh  who  was employed by him as a driver and who had the licence to drive the bus  in question  and as  such the  respondent Insurance Company was  liable to  pay the  compensation. The Insurance Company, however, took the defence that as the bus was being driven by  respondent No.4,  Rajinder  Pal  Singh,  cleaner/ conductor of the bus who was not holding the driving licence and, therefore,  the Insurance Company cannot be held liable to pay  compensation because  under the  terms of the policy only person  holding a driving licence could have driven the bus in question.      The Tribunal  on consideration of materials on rash and negligent driving  of the bus by respondent No.4 who did not have  a  driving  licence.  On  that  finding  the  Tribunal



discharged  the  liability  of  the  Insurance  Company  and directed  the  owner  and  the  driver  i.e.  appellant  and respondent No.4  to pay an amount of Rs. 66,000/- along with rate of  6% per  annum to the claimants as compensation. One appeal was  filed on behalf of the claimants for enhancement of the  amount of the compensation, whereas the other appeal was filed  on behalf  of the appellant along with respondent No.4 for  Setting aside  the award of the Tribunal. The High Court enhanced  the amount  of compensation from Rs.66,000/- to Rs.  1,57,500/- and  directed payment  of interest at the rate of  12% per  annum to  the claimants. In respect of the dispute regarding  the liability  to  pay  the  compensation between the  appellant the  owner of  the bus, vis-a-vis the Insurance Company,  the High  Court came  to the  conclusion that the  Insurance  Company  was  not  liable  because  the vehicle was  being driven  by a  person at  the time  of the accident, who  was not  holding a  driving licence. The High Court rejected  the claim  of the  appellant holding that at the time  of the  accident the  vehicle was  being driven by Gurubachan Singh who was holding the driving licence.      From the  orders of the Tribunal and the High Court, it appears that  Gurubachan Singh was the regular driver of the bus, but  at the time of the accident Rajinder Pal Singh who was  cleaner/conductor  of  the  bus  was  driving  the  bus obviously with  the consent  and authority  of  the  regular driver Gurubachan  Singh. Gurubachan Singh was examined as a witness on  behalf of  the appellant and he asserted that it was he  who was driving the bus and had not allowed Rajinder Pal Singh,  the cleaner/conductor  to drive the bus when the accident took place. But on basis of the materials on record the Tribunal  and the  High Court,  have rightly come to the conclusion that  Gurubachan Singh, the duly appointed driver having licence  had allowed  Rajinder Pal Singh to drive the said vehicle  and it was due to rash Rajinder Pal Singh, the accident took  place resulting  into the  death  of  Dr.  P. Ramachandra Reddy.      On behalf of the appellant a stand was taken that as he had appointed  Gurubachan Singh  to  drive  the  vehicle  in question and  if the  said driver allowed Rajinder Pal Singh to  drive   the  vehicle  without  any  authority  from  the appellant then  in that  event the  appellant shall  not  be liable to  pay any  compensation  to  the  heirs  and  legal representatives of the victim.      In Salmond’s  Law of-Torts (Twentieth Edn.) at page 458 it has been said:      "On the other hand it has been held      that a servant who is authorised to      drive  a  motor  vehicle,  and  who      permits an  unauthorised person  to      drive it  in his  place, may yet be      acting  within  the  scope  of  his      employment. The  act of  permitting      another to  drive may  be  a  mode,      albeit an  improper one,  of  doing      the authorised work. The master may      even be  responsible of the servant      impliedly,   and   not   expressly,      permits an  unauthorised person  to      drive  the  vehicle,  as  where  he      leaves  it  unattended  in  such  a      manner  that   it   is   reasonably      foreseeable that  the  third  party      will attempt  to drive it, at least      if  the   driver  retains  notional      control of the vehicle."



It has been said in Halsbury’s Laws of England, Fourth Edn., Vol.16, paragraph 739:           "Where  the   act  which   the      employee is expressly authorised to      do  is   lawful,  the  employer  is      nevertheless  responsible  for  the      manner  in   which   the   employee      executes   his    authority.    If,      therefore, the  employee  does  the      act in such a manner as to occasion      injury  to   a  third  person,  the      employer cannot  escape lability on      the ground that he did not actually      authorise the particular  manner in      which the  act was done, or even on      the, ground  that the  employee was      acting on his own behalf and not on      that of his employer." In that  connection reference  can be  made to  the cases of London County  Council v. Cattermoles (Garages) Ltd., (1953) 2 All ER 582, Ilkiw v. Samuels (1963) 2 All ER 879; Staveley Iron and Chemical Co. Ltd. v. Jones, (1956) 1 All ER 403 and the case  of Pushpabai;  Purshottam Udeshi v. Ranjit Ginning and Pressing  Co. (P)  Ltd., (1977)  2 SCC  745. The crucial test  is  whether  the  initial  act  of  the  employee  was expressly authorised  and lawful.  Then the  employer  shall nevertheless be  responsible for  the manner  in  which  the employees that  is, the  driver and  the  respondent  no.  4 executed the  authority. This is necessary to ensure so that the injured  third parties who are not directly involved  or concerned with  the nature of authority vested by the master to his  servant are  not deprived from getting compensation. If the  dispute  revolves  around  the  mode  or  manner  of execution of the authority of the master by the servant, the master cannot  escape the liability so far third parties are concerned on  the ground that he had not actually authorised the particular manner in which the act was done. This aspect of the  matter has been recently examined by a Bench of this Court of  which one  of us  (N.P. Singh, J) was a member, in the case  of State  of Maharashtra  &  Ors.  v.  Kanchanmala Vijaysing Shirke & Ors., (1995) 5 SCC 659. From the facts of that case  it shall  appear that  the jeep  which caused the accident belonged to the State of Maharashtra, the appellant in that  case.  The  regular  driver  of  the  jeep  allowed respondent No.4  of that  appeal who  was  a  clerk  in  the Department of  the State  Government to  drive the jeep when the accident  took  place.  The  High  Court  in  that  case recorded a  finding that respondent No.4 of that appeal, was driving the  jeep while  on official  duty. This  Court held that a  master is  liable even  for acts  which he  had  not authorised provided  they are  so connected  with  the  acts which he  had authorised.  If the  act of the servant on the other hand  is not  even remotely connected within the scops of the  employment and  is an  independent act,  the  master shall not  be responsible  because the servant is not acting in the course of his employment but has gone outside.      It  was   said  in  the  aforesaid  case  of  State  of Maharashtra  v. Kanchanmal Vijaysing Shirke (supra):      "....The High  Court has also found      that the  respondent  who  was  the      clerk in  the office  of  appellant      No.2 was  driving the vehicle under      the authority of the driver who was      in charge  of the  said vehicle and      as the  driver  had  consumed  more



    liquor on that day he permitted the      respondent  to  drive  the  vehicle      that  night.   The  facts   of  the      present    case     disclose    and      demonstrate that  an authorised act      was being  done in  an unauthorised      manner.  The  accident  took  place      when the  act authorised  was being      performed in  a mode  which may not      be proper  but nonetheless  it  was      directly  connected  with  "in  the      course of  employment" - it was not      an independent act for a purpose or      business  which  had  no  nexus  or      connection with the business of the      State Government  so as  to absolve      the   appellant-State    from   the      liability."      In the  case of  Pushpabai Purshottam Udeshi vs. Banjit Ginning and  Pressing Co.(P)  Ltd., (1977) 2 SCC 745, it was said:      "...we would like to point out that      the recent  trend in law is to make      the master liable for acts which do      not strictly  fall within  the term      ’in course  or the  employment’  as      ordinarily  understood.   We   have      referred to Sitaram Motilal Kalal v      Santanuprasad   Jaishankar    Bhatt      where this  Court accepted  the law      laid down by Lord Denning in Ormrod      v. Crosville  Motor  Services  Ltd.      that the  owner is  not only liable      for the negligence of the driver if      that driver  is his  servant acting      in the course of his employment but      also when  the driver  is, with the      owner’s consent, driving the car on      the owner’s  business  or  for  the      owner’s  purposes.  This  extension      has been  accepted by  this  Court.      The  law   as  laid  down  by  Lord      Denning in Young vs. Edward Box and      Co. Ltd.  already referred  to i.e.      the  first   question  is   to  see      whether the   servant is liable and      if the  answer is  yes, the  second      question  is  to  see  whether  the      employer    must    shoulder    the      servant’s   liability,   has   been      uniformly  accepted  as  stated  in      Salmond’s Law  of Torts, 15th Edn.,      p.606, in  Crown  Proceedings  Act,      1947 and  approved by  the House of      Lords in Staveley Iron and Chemical      Co. Ltd.  vs. Jones and ICI Ltd. v.      Shatwell."      Same is the position in the present case. The appellant had authorised  Gurubachan Singh  to drive  the vehicle, but Gurubachan   Singh   allowed   Rajinder   Pal   Singh,   the cleaner/conductor who was also the employee of the appellant to drive  the vehicle  because of  which the  accident  took place. It is not the stand of the appellant the Rajinder Pal Singh was  driving the  vehicle  without  the  knowledge  or consent of  Gurubachan Singh,  for his  personal pursuit. He



was driving  the bus for the business of the appellant, that is to  carry on  the passengers.  In  this  background,  the appellant cannot  escape the  liability  so  far  the  third parties are concerned on the ground that he had not actually authorised the  particular manner in which the Act was done. As it  has  been  established  that  the  negligent  act  of Gurubachan Singh  and respondent  Rajinder pal Singh was "in the course  of employment" the appellant shall be liable for the same.  In the present case, the accident took place when the act  authorised was  being performed in a mode which may not be  proper but  nonetheless it  was directly connected a within the  course of  employment. It was not an independent act for  a purpose which had no nexus or connection with the business of  the appellant  so as, to, absolve the appellant from the liability.      The road  accidents in India have touched a new height. In majority  of cases  because of  the  rash  and  negligent driving, innocent  persons become  victims of such accidents because  of   which  their  dependants  in  many  cases  are virtually on  the streets.  In this background, the question of payment of compensation in respect of motor accidents has assumed great  importance for  public as well as for courts. Traditionally, before  the Court  directed payment  of  tort compensation, it had to be established by the claimants that the accident  was due  to the  fault of  the person  causing injury   or    damage.   Now    from   different    judicial pronouncements,  it   shall  appear  that  even  in  western countries fault  is being  read  and  assumed  as  someone’s negligence or  carelessness. The  Indian  Parliament,  being conscious of  the magnitude of the plight the victims of the accidents, have  introduced several beneficial provisions to protect the  interest of the claimants and to enable them to claim compensation  from the  owner or the insurance company in connection  with the  accident.  In  the  Motor  Vehicles Act,1939 Chapter  VII-A was introduced by the Motor vehicles (Amendment) Act,  1982.  Sub-section  (1)  of  Section  92-A provides that  where the  death or  permanent disablement of any person  has resulted  from an accident, the owner of the vehicle shall  be liable  to pay  compensation in respect of such death  or disablement in accordance with the provisions of the  said section.  Sub-section  (2)  specifies  a  fixed amount for  such liability  without fault.  In view  of sub- section (3),  the claimant  is not  required  to  plead  and establish that the death or permanent disablement in respect of which  the claim  has been  filed was  the result  of the wrongful act,  neglect  or  default  of  the  owner  of  the vehicle. Sub-section (4) of that section provides that claim for compensation under sub-section (1) of that section shall not be  defeated by  reason of  any wrongful act, neglect or default of the person in respect of whose death or permanent disablement the  claim has been made. Section 92-B, makes it clear that the right to claim compensation under Section 92- A in respect of death or permanent disablement of any person shall be  in addition  to any  other right i.e. the right to claim compensation  on principle  of fault.  It can  be said that Parliament  by introducing the aforesaid Chapter in the Motor  Vehicles   Act,  1939   provided   for   payment   of compensation within certain limits ignoring the principle of fault. Same  is the position in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and similar  provisions have  been retained  in Chapter X of the  said  Act.  In  that  connection,  it  may  further  be mentioned that  the Motor  Vehicles Act, 1988 which repealed the Motor  Vehicles Act,  1939  and  came  in  force  w.e.f. 1.7.1989 prescribed a period of limitation for making claims before the Tribunal in sub-section (3) of Section 166 of the



Act. The said sub-section provided:           "No   application   for   such      compensation shall  be  entertained      unless it is made within six months      of the occurrence of the  accident.           Provided   that   the   Claims      Tribunal    may    entertain    the      application after the expiry of the      said period  or six  months but not      later than  twelve months, if it is      satisfied that  the  applicant  was      prevented by  sufficient cause from      making the application in time."      As sub-section  (3) of Section 166 by its proviso fixed a limit  of 12  months  before  which  the  application  for compensation must  be filed,  it left  no discretion  in the claims Tribunal  to extend the period beyond 12 months. This used to  cause hardship  and injury  to many  claimants  who could not  approach the Tribunal for compensation within the period of  12 months  from the  date of the accident for one reason  or   the  other.   The  aforesaid.  Sub-section  (3) ofSection 166  of the.  Motor Vehicles  Act, 1988  has  been omitted by Section 53 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1994 which  came in  force w.e.f.  1.4.11. The effect of the foresaid amendment is that there is no limitation for filing claims before the Tribunal in respect of an accident. It can be said  that Parliament  realised the  grave injustice  and injury which  was  being  caused  to  the  heirs  and  legal representatives of  the victims  who died  in  accidents  by rejecting their  claim  petitions  only  on  the  ground  of limitation. An  other amendment  which can be referred to in this connection,  which has been introduced by the aforesaid Amendment Act  of 1994  as sub-section  (6) to  Section  158 provides:           "As soon  as  any  information      regarding  any  accident  involving      death  or   bodily  injury  to  any      person is  recorded or report under      this  section  is  completed  by  a      police   officer,    the    officer      incharge  of   the  police  station      shall forward  a copy  of the  same      within thirty days from the date of      recording of information or, as the      case may  be, on completion of such      report  to   the  Claims   Tribunal      having  jurisdiction   and  a  copy      thereof to  the concerned  insurer,      and where  a copy is made available      to the  owner he  shall also within      thirty  days’of   receipt  of  such      report, forward  the same  to  such      Claims Tribunal and Insurer." Because of  sub-section (6)  of Section  158 of the Act, the officer incharge  of  the  police  station  is  enjoined  to forward a  copy of information/report regarding the accident to the Tribunal having jurisdiction. A copy thereof has also to be forwarded to the concerned insurer. The same Amendment Act has  also substituted  Sub-section (2)  of  Section  166 because of  which an  application for compensation under sub section (1) of Section 166 now can be made, at the option of the  claimants   either  to   the  claim   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. Originally,  such  application  used  to  be  filed before the claims Tribunal having jurisdiction over the area in which  the accident  occurred. This  used to  cause great hardship and  in many  cases it  became impossible  for  the claimants to  approach such  claims Tribunal,  the  distance being beyond their reach from the place of their residence.      Some of the aforesaid significant amendments introduced in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 and Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 have been  referred to  above only  to  indicate  that  even Parliament is  conscious that right to claim compensation by the claimants  in connection with the tor vehicles accidents should not be defeated on technical grounds.      Now it  has to  be examined as to whether the insurance company  can  be  absolved  of  its  liability  to  pay  the compensation in  a case  where the  owner of the vehicle had got the vehicle insured, but the accident took place when it was being  driven  by  a  person  not  holding  the  driving licence In the present case the accident took place when the Motor Vehicles  Act, 1939  was in  force. Section 96 of that act prescribed  the duty  of the  insurers  to  satisfy  the judgments against persons insured in respect of third party risks (the parallel provision being Section 149 in the Motor Vehicles  Act,  1988).  The  relevant  part  of  Section  96 provided:           "  96.  Duty  of  insurers  to      satisfy Judgments  against  persons      insured in  respect of  third party      risks.-    (1)    If,    after    a      certificate of  insurance has  been      issued  under  sub-section  (4)  of      Section 95 in. favour of the person      by whom a policy has been effected,      judgment in  respect  of  any  such      liability  as  is  required  to  be      covered by  a policy  under  clause      (b) of sub-section   (1) of Section      95 (being  liability covered by the      terms of  the policy)  is obtained.      against any  person insured  by the      policy, then,  notwithstanding that      the insurer  may   be  entitled  to      avoid or  cancel or may have voided      or  cancelled   the   policy,   the      insurer  shall,   subject  to   the      provisions of  this section, pay to      the person  entitled to the benefit      of   the   decree   any   sum   not      exceeding the  sum assured- payable      thereunder,  as   if  he  were  the      judgment debtor,  in respect of the      liability.           (2) No sum shall be payable by      an   insurer under  sub section (1)      in respect  of any  judgment unless      before or  after the   commencement      of the  proceedings, in  which  the      judgment is  given the  insurer had      notice   through the  court  of the      bringing of  the proceedings, or in      respect of any  judgment so long as      execution  is   stayed      thereon      pending an appeal and an insurer to      whom notice  of the bringing of any      such   proceeding is so given shall



    be entitled  to  be  made  a  party      thereto and  to defend.  the action      on any  of the  following  grounds,      namely:           (a) ............           (b)  that  there  has  been  a      breach of a  specified condition of      the  policy,  being  one    of  the      following conditions, namely:           (i) ............           (a) to (d) ........             (ii)  a condition  excluding      driving  by    a  named  person  or      persons or  by any  person who this      not duly licensed, or by any person      who  has   been  disqualified   for      holding  or   obtaining  a  driving      licence  during   the   period   of      disqualification; or           ......." In view  of sub-section  (1) of  Section  96  if  after  the certificate of  insurance has  been issued  in favour of the person by  whom a  policy has  been  effected,  judgment  in respect of  any such  liability as is required to be covered by a  policy, the insurer shall subject to the provisions of the said  section pay  to the person entitled to the benefit of the  decree any sum not exceeding the sum assured payable thereunder, as  if he was the judgment debtor. in respect of the liability.  ( emphasis  supplied ).  Sub-section (2)  of Section 96  enjoins that  notice of the proceedings in which the judgment  is given,  has to  be given to the insurer and such insurer  shall be  entitled to defend the action on any of the  grounds mentioned  in sub-section (2) of Section 96. We are  concerned in  the present  case  only  with  Section 96(2)(b)(ii), a  condition excluding  driving by  any person who is  not duly licensed. The question is as to whether the insurance company  can repudiate  its liability  to pay  the compensation in respect of the accident by a vehicle only by showing that  at the  relevant time it was being driven by a person having  no licence.  In the case of Skandia Insurance Co.Ltd. vs.  Kokilaben Chandravadan,  1987(2)  SCC  654;  in respect of this very defence by the insurance company it was said:           "The  defence   built  on  the      exclusion clause cannot succeed for      three reasons, viz. :           (1) On  a true  interpretation      of  the   relevant   clause   which      interpretation is at peace with the      conscience  of   Section  96,   the      condition excluding  driving  by  a      person not  duly  licensed  is  not      absolute  and   the   promisor   is      absolved once  it is  shown that he      has done everything in his power to      keep, honour and fulfil the promise      and he  himself is  not guilty of a      deliberate breach.           (2) Even  if it  treated as an      absolute    promise,    there    is      substantial  compliance   therewith      upon an  express or implied mandate      being given  to the licensed driver      not to allow the vehicle to be left      unattended so that it happens to be



    driven by an unlicensed driver.           (3) The  exclusion clause  has      to be  ’read down’ in order that it      is  not   at  war  with  the  ’main      purpose’ of  the provisions enacted      for the  protection of  victims  of      accidents so  that the  promisor is      exculpated when  he does everything      in his power to keep the promise." To examine the correctness of the aforesaid view this appeal was referred  to a three Judges’ Bench, because on behalf of the insurance  company, a stand was taken that when ’Section 96(2)(b)(ii) has provided that the insurer shall be entitled to defend  the action  on the  ground that  there  has  been breach of  a specified  condition to  the  policy  i.e.  the vehicle should  not be  driven by a person who is ’not’ duly licensed, then  the insurance  company cannot  be held to be liable to  indemnify the  owner of  the  vehicle.  In  other words, once  there has been a contravention of the condition prescribed in  sub-section (2)(b)(ii)  of  Section  96,  the person insured  shall not be entitled to the benefit of sub- section  (1)   of  Section  96.  According  to  us,  Section 96(2)(b)(ii)  should  not  be  interpreted  in  a  technical manner. Sub-section  (2) of  Section  96  only  enables  the insurance  company  to  defend  itself  in  respect  of  the liability  to   pay  compensation  on  any  of  the  grounds mentioned in sub-section (2) including that there has been a contravention of  the condition  excluding the vehicle being driven by  any person  who is not duly licensed. This bar on face of it operates on the person insured. If the person who has got  the vehicle  insured has  allowed the vehicle to be driven by  a person  who is not duly licensed then only that clause shall  be attracted.  In a  case where the person who has not  insured the vehicle with the insurance company, has appointed a  duly licensed  driver and if the accident takes place when  the vehicle is being driven by a person not duly licensed on  the basis  of the  authority of the driver duly authorised  to  drive  the  vehicle  whether  the  insurance company in  that event shall be absolved from its liability? The expression  "breach" occurring in Section 96(2)(b) means infringement or  violation of  a promise  or obligation.  As such the  insurance company  will have to establish that the insured was  guilty of  an infringement  or violation  of  a promise. The  insurer has  also   to satisfy the Tribunal or the Court that such violation or infringement on the part of the insured  was willful,  It  the  insured  has  taken  all precautions by  appointing a  duly licensed  driver to drive the vehicle in question and it has not been established that lt was the insured who allowed the vehicle to be driven by a person not  duly licensed, then the insurance company cannot repudiate its  statutory liability  under sub-section (1) of Section 96.  In the  present case far from establishing that it was  the appellant  who had allowed Rajinder Pal Singh to drive the vehicle when the accident took place, there is not even any allegation that it was the appellant who was guilty of violating  the condition  that the  vehicle shall  not be driven by  a person not duly licensed. From the facts of the case, it  appears that  the appellant  had  done  everything within his  power inasmuch  as he  has  engaged  a  licensed driver Gurubachan  Singh and  had placed  the vehicle in his charge. While  interpreting the  contract of  insurance, the Tribunals and  Courts have  to be conscious of the fact that right  to   claim  compensation   by     heirs   and   legal representatives of  the  victims  of  the  accident  is  not defeated on  technical grounds.  Unless it is established on



the materials  on record  that it  was the  insured who  had willfully violated the condition of the policy by allowing a person not  duly licensed  to drive  the  vehicle  when  the accident took  place, the  insurer shall  be deemed  to be a judgment-debtor in  respect of the liability in view of sub- section (1)  of Section  96 of  the Act.   It  need  not  be pointed out  that the  whole concept  of getting the Vehicle insured by  an insurance  company is to provide an easy mode of getting  compensation  by  the  claimants,  otherwise  in normal course  they had  to pursue  their claim  against the owner from  one forum to the other and ultimately to execute the order of the Accident Claims Tribunal for realization of such amount  by sale  of properties  of  the  owner  of  the vehicle. The  procedure and  result of  the execution of the decree is well known.       This  Court in the case of Kashiram Yadav and Another. vs. Oriental  Fire and  General Insurance  Co.  and  Others, (1989) 4  SCC 128 reiterataed the views expressed in Skandia Insurance Co.  Ltd. vs. Kokilaben Chandravadan (supra) while referring to that case it was said:           ".......There the  facts found      were quite  different. The  vehicle      concerned   in    that   case   was      undisputedly   entrusted   to   the      driver who  had a valid licence. In      transit  the   driver  stopped  the      vehicle  and  went  to  fetch  some      snacks  from  the    opposite  shop      leaving the engine on. The ignition      key was  at the  ignition lock  and      not in  the cabin of the truck. The      driver had  asked  the  cleaner  to      take care of the truck. In fact the      driver had  left the  truck in care      of the cleaner. The cleaner meddled      with the  vehicle  and  caused  the      accident.   The    question   arose      whether the  insured (owner)    had      committed a breach of the condition      incorporated in  the certificate of      insurance   since    the    cleaner      operated the  vehicle on  he  fatal      occasion without  driving  licence.      his Court  expressed the  view that      it is only when the insured himself      entrusted the  vehicle to  a person      who  does   not  hold   a   driving      licence, he  could be  said to have      committed breach   of the condition      of   the   policy.   It   must   be      established   by    the   Insurance      Company that  the breach  is on the      part of  the  insured.  Unless  the      insured is  at fault  and is guilty      of a  breach of  the condition, the      insurer  cannot   escape  from  the      obligation   to    indemnify    the      insured. It  was also observed that      when  the   insured      has   done      everything   within    his    power      inasmuch  as  he  has  engaged  the      licensed driver  and has placed the      vehicle  in  his  charge  with  the      express  or  implied    mandate  to      drive himself,  it cannot  be  said



    that the  insured is  guilty of any      breach.           We affirm  and  reiterate  the      statement of   law laid down in the      above case. We may  also state that      without  the   knowledge   of   the      insured, if  by  driver’s  acts  or      omission  others  meddle  with  the      vehicle and  cause an accident, the      insurer   would    be   liable   to      indemnify the  insured. The insurer      in such  a  case  cannot  take  the      defence  of   a   breach   of   the      condition  in  the  certificate  of      insurance."      We are  in respectful agreement with the view expressed in the  case of  Skandia Insurance  Co.  Ltd.  vs  Kokilaben Chandravadan  (supra).      As in  the facts  of the  present case,  the  appellant shall be  deemed to  be liable  to pay compensation applying the principle  of vicarious  liability because  the accident took place  when the act authorised was being performed in a mode which may not be proper but was directly connected with in the  course of  employment, sub-section (1) of section 96 of the  Act shall  come into  play and the insurance company shall be deemed to be the judgment debtor, so far claim made by the  heirs and  legal representatives  of the deceased is concerned. are      Accordingly, the appeals are allowed and the  orders of the claims  Tribunal and  the High  Court are modified where only the  appellant has  been held  to be  liable to pay the compensation and  the respondent insurance company  has been absolved of  the liability. The respondent insurance company shall  be   jointly  and   severally  liable   to  pay   the compensation to the claimants. There shall be no order as to costs.