22 July 2020

Party, who is guilty of protracting the litigation, is not entitled to interest

It is not in dispute that while the claim petition was pending before the Tribunal, the claimants in the month of June 2013 filed a transfer petition seeking transfer of the claim petition from MACT, Kishtwar to MACT, Jammu which was finally dismissed as not pressed by this Court vide order dated 18.02.2016. The said transfer petition, thus, remained pending for almost three years and during this period, the proceedings in the claim petition remained stayed. According to learned counsel for the insurer, no interest should have been paid for this period as the claimants cannot be given the benefit of their own wrong.[Page No.35]

    Per contra, Mr. Bhat submits that the interest awarded by the Tribunal is not a penal interest, but is only a compensation for the amount withheld and, therefore, the Tribunal was right in awarding interest even for the aforesaid period when the proceedings in the claim petition remained suspended. Reliance is placed upon the judgment of Hon‟ble Supreme Court rendered in the case of Alok Shankar Pandey v. Union of India (AIR 2007 SC 1198) [Para No.36]

Party, who is guilty of protracting the litigation, is not entitled  to interest

  I have given my thoughtful consideration to the plea raised and am of the view that, although in the commercial parlance, the interest is ordinarily not a penalty or punishment, but is a normal accretion on capital, yet the same cannot be applied in the cases of claims under the Motor Vehicles Act. Granting interest to a party, who is guilty of protracting the litigation, would be encouraging the parties to indulge in unnecessarily delaying the litigation. It is well settled that a person cannot be permitted to take the benefit of his own wrong. In the instant case, determination of compensation by the Tribunal was delayed by almost three years due to filing of a transfer petition by the claimants which later on was not pressed and was dismissed by this Court. In that view of the matter, I am inclined to accept the submission of learned counsel for the insurer that the claimants should not be held entitled to interest for the period from June 2013 to 18th February 2016. In the light of discussion made hereinabove the appeal of the insurer is partly allowed and the award is modified to the following extent.[Page No.37]

Jammu & Kashmir High Court

National Insurance Company Ltd.
Purna Devi

Decided on 18/07/2020

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