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MUMBAI: Setting aside a tribunal’s order of “contributory negligence” by a biker in a fatal night time mishap in 2009 after he collided with a tempo that had stalled on a highway, the Bombay high court has held that the tempo driver was solely responsible as he flouted a rule requiring him to keep his vehicle parking lights on.

“The Rule (109 of Central Motor Vehicles Rules) states that, front and rear parking lights shall remain lit when the vehicle is kept stationary on the road, but no such parking lights were put on the offending tempo, so liability of contributory accident cannot be fastened on the deceased by holding that he should have seen the stationed tempo under the headlight of motorcycle,” said Justice S G Dige at the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay HC on October 18.

“When there is specific rule in respect of taking precautions by stationary vehicle, if such precautions are not taken by the driver or owner of a stationary vehicle, then liability cannot be shifted on motorcycle rider,” said the HC enhancing compensation for the victim by over Rs 25 lakh, to Rs 39 lakh.

The biker’s “aggrieved and dissatisfied” 40 year-old widow and two minor children had gone in appeal against a judgment of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), Latur. On 09.10.2009, at about 10:00pm, M N Salunke was on his motorcycle headed towards his village Bardapurin, Latur district. When he reached Kaushik dhabha on Latur-Ambejogai road at Renapur, he dashed into the stationary motor tempo. Injured by the collision, he died during his treatment. Police registered an offence against the tempo driver.

Salunke’s kin filed for compensation before the tribunal. The MACT, however, held the biker to be 50% responsible for the accident. The family said it was dark and he could not be held even partly responsible as there was no tail lamp on the tempo stationed in the middle of the road. No other indicators were given by the tempo driver either.The tempo driver’s lawyer argued that the biker was coming at a “high and excessive speed” and there was no headlight on the motorcycle, and had it been on, he could have seen the tempo.


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