The Supreme Court instructed the framing of charges within four weeks to ensure the trial in cases relating to fake accident claims petitions by lawyers before the concerned court in Uttar Pradesh is concluded at the earliest.
Besides the cases in which charge sheets have been filed, a bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna also asked the investigation officer of Special Investigation Team, Lucknow to complete the investigation in other cases at the earliest and submit charge sheet before the concerned court immediately thereafter.
"Counsel for the SIT has placed on record particulars in a tabulated form showing in how many cases investigation has been completed and charge sheet has been filed. It is reported that in other cases, the investigation is in progress. From the report, it appears that the first FIRs are in 2016 but the charge sheets have only been filed in October-November, 2021.
"We direct the investigation officer of SIT, Lucknow to complete the investigation in other cases at the earliest and submit the charge sheet before the concerned court immediately thereafter. So far as the cases in which charge sheets are already filed, we direct the respective chief judicial magistrates to frame charges in those cases after following due procedure within four weeks from today and see to it that the trial in these cases is concluded at the earliest," the bench said.
Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj, appearing for the Union Ministry of Road Transport, submitted that the Union government has come out with a fresh comprehensive information form in which full particulars are to be given in respect of motor accident claims. He submitted that the same is yet to be finalised in consultation with NIC.
The top court directed the Centre and the NIC to finalise the form at the earliest so that it may be implemented pan India which may assist in curbing fake claims.
Senior advocate Sidharta Luthra, appearing for ICICI Ltd, submitted that on roads there is only 40 per cent of vehicles are insured while the rest are uninsured.
"Whenever there is an accident there is an attempt to try to play fraud so that insurance companies cough up. As a result, honest persons are suffering as money from claims is going to unscrupulous persons. It can't be limited to one state. The issue can only be addressed if SITs are constituted in each state. It has to be an all-India implementation. The insurance companies are facing the brunt. The second problem is that police often hand in glove and they are not willing to take up the matter," Luthra said.
Advocate Samar Vijay Singh, appearing for the UP SIT, submitted a tabulated chart and informed that a charge sheet has been filed in 36 cases while the investigation in other cases is going on.
The apex court had earlier made the Union Ministry of Transport a party to a case and directed it to suggest "remedial and preventive measures" to curb the menace of filing of false claims under the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and Workmen Compensation laws causing a loss in crores of rupees to insurance companies.
It had ordered the UP SIT to expedite the "enquiry/investigation with respect to complaints already received from various insurance companies" about such cases and also took note of the fact that the Disciplinary Committees of Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh has issued notices to 27 errant advocates allegedly involved in the filing of fake cases.
The apex court had rapped the UP Bar Council for shielding advocates in a matter of fake claim petitions of "thousands of crores" involving lawyers even as the BCI said it has suspended 28 lawyers in the state for such cases.
It is very unfortunate that in such a serious matter, where the allegations are of filing of fake claim petitions involving advocates, the Bar Council of UP is not giving instructions to them for making submissions, the court had said.
It had also directed a Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted in compliance with the order dated October 7, 2015, passed by the Allahabad High Court, to submit a report concerning the probe in a sealed cover.
The top court had said that SIT was constituted pursuant to the order passed by the Allahabad High Court for conducting enquiry and investigation of the cases related to causing a loss in crores of rupees to the insurance companies from 2015 and despite the same, the investigation has not been completed till date.
The bench had said that it is very unfortunate that even the SIT has not taken prompt action and completed enquiry.
( With PTI Inputs)