The verdict came in a case of a car accident in which a man was killed after the car he was traveling in toppled following a tyre burst. However, the New India Assurance Co Ltd. refused to pay compensation, saying that the accident was an act of God.
As reported by the Times of India, the accident occurred on October 25, 2010. Patwardhan (38) was traveling from Pune to Mumbai with two of his colleagues to attend a function. “The colleague who owned the car was driving it in a rash and negligent manner with an uncontrollable speed when the rear wheel burst and the car fell into a deep ditch, killing Patwardhan on the spot. Patwardhan was the sole bread-earner in the family and left behind his wife (34), daughter (7), father (70) and mother (65). He was an assistant manager with a private company and drew nearly Rs 69,000 salary at the time of his death,” as per the TOI report.
The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Pune, had directed the insurance company to pay nearly Rs 1.25 crore with 9% interest to the family of Makarand Patwardhan.
However, the insurance company challenged the June 7, 2016 order of the tribunal before the high court, saying that the tribunal awarded exorbitant and excessive compensation. A tyre burst, it argued, was an act of God and not the result of the driver’s negligence.
However, Justice S G Dige of Bombay High Court noted that the dictionary meaning of ‘act of God’ is ‘an instance of uncontrollable natural forces in operation.’ “It refers to a severe unanticipated natural event for which no human is responsible. The bursting of a tyre cannot be termed as an act of God. It is an act of human negligence,” he said.