India having the highest no. of road crash deaths and injuries in the world and
the bustling thoroughfares of India's roadways, the hit and run cases adds to
complexity of motor vehicle insurance and legal responsibilities arising from
Amidst the chaotic traffic, the Indian Motor Vehicle Act, a crucial law
governing driving conduct outlines the duties and liabilities arising from hit
and run incidents. The article seeks to clarify the legal obligations faced by
victims seeking compensation and insurance companies struggling with these
challenging situations amid the unpredictability of road accidents and fleeing
Definition and legal provisions related to hit and run cases:
Under Section 161 of Motor Vehicle Act a "hit and run motor accident" is defined
as an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle or motor vehicles the
identity whereof cannot be ascertained despite reasonable efforts for the
Under Indian law hit and run cases are governed under Motor Vehicle Act,1988
amended in 2019 and Indian Penal Code, 1860 now replaced by Bhartiya Nyaya
The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988:
Under Sec 161 and 161(2) of M.V.A provides
compensation in hit and run cases. The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act was passed
by the Parliament and was approved by the president in 2019. The act mainly
talks about road safety and compensation for road accidents victims which covers
medical expenses and other losses and amounts up to Rs. 2 lakhs can be charged
in death cases.
Indian Penal Code, 1860:
The provisions related to hit and run cases were
enshrined under different sections of IPC such as Section 279 (rash or reckless
driving), Section 304 A (causing death by negligence) and 338 (endangering life
or personal safety of others). In exceptional cases, 302 (murder) and 304 A the
punishment for death due to rash and negligent driving are invoked and the
imprisonment up to two years can be charged. However, there is no specific
section for hit and run incidents.
Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita , 2023:
The new law which replaced colonial era law i.e. IPC has got it assent recently by Droupadi Murmu the president of India, earlier
there were no provisions which talked about hit and run cases specifically but
now under Sec 104 (2) of B.N.S: whoever causes death of any person by doing any
rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide and escapes from the
scene of incident or fails to report the incident to a police officer or
Magistrate soon after the incident, shall be punished with imprisonment of
either description of a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be
liable to fine up to Rs. 7 lakhs, Moreover the law also applies to private
Reporting Requirements and timelines:Duty of insured and witnesses:
Regarding the consequences of a hit-and-run accident, it is the primary
responsibility of the parties involved to comply with their reporting
obligations within the established deadlines. The obligation to report accidents
immediately is not only a moral obligation but is also embedded in the legal
framework of the Motor Vehicles Act.
According to Article 134 of the Act, a driver involved in a hit-and-run accident
must report the accident to the nearest police station. This reporting
requirement is time-sensitive and typically requires immediate action. Failure
to report an accident within the allotted deadline can have legal consequences
and further complicate an already difficult situation.
Legal consequences for failing to report a hit and run incident:
The reporting process involves providing important information about the
incident, such as time, location, and circumstances. Timely reporting is
critical not only for law enforcement to begin an investigation, but also for
victims to begin the process of seeking compensation in the Motor Vehicle
Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT).
It is important to understand these reporting requirements and deadlines, as
delays or non-compliance can affect the legal standing of the parties involved.
For victims seeking justice and insurance companies processing claims, complying
with these reporting requirements is an important aspect of the broader legal
perspective surrounding hit-and-run incidents in Indian motor insurance.
Data from the ministry of road transport & highways (MoRTH) shows that the share
of hit-and-run cases in total road accidents and deaths was 14.6% and 18.1% in
2022. These numbers were 16.8% and 11.8% in 2021, the cause of incidents related
to hit and run is increasing every year to tackle this situation, Motor Vehicle
Act plays an important role to compensate the losses arising from such incidents
The role of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT):
Established under the Motor Vehicles Act, MACT acts as a quasi-judicial body
dealing with the adjudication of claims relating to motor vehicle accidents,
including those arising from hit- and- run incidents. The victim or their legal
representative can claim from MACT seeking compensation for injuries, property
damage or in unfortunate cases and loss of life.
The compensation given by MACT is determined by various factors, including the
nature and extent of the injuries, loss of income and medical charges.
Importantly, MACT is grounded on the principle of no-fault liability, meaning
that victims can seek compensation without having to prove a party's negligence.
This aspect is particularly important in hit- and- run cases where identifying
the fleeing driver can be a major challenge. Still this process isn't without
its challenges. Detainments in adjudging cases and the complexity of assessing
compensation can further complicate the burden on victims seeking just
Compensation to victims of Hit & Run Motor Accidents Scheme, 2022:
- It is a monetary assistance scheme of the Ministry of Road Transport and
Highways; it was launched on 1st April 2022. The scheme superseded the Solatium
Scheme 1989 under this scheme the amount of compensation used to be Rs. 50,000/-
on death of a victim and Rs. 12,500/- in case of grievous hurt.
- Under the Compensation to victims of Hit & Run Motor Accidents Scheme,
2022 the amount of compensation for death is Rs.2,00,000/- and Rs. 50,000/- for
Key Features of the Scheme:
- Compensation amount shall be administered from the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund constituted under section 164B of Motor Vehicle Act.
- Motor Vehicle Accident Fund includes:
- Account for Insured Vehicle.
- Account for Uninsured Vehicles.
- To monitor, review, and administer the scheme, there is a Standing Committee at the Centre Level.
- To monitor, to take corrective measures, to evaluate the progress of the scheme, there is a District Level Committee set up under this scheme.
- It is mandatory to pay compensation within the 15 days of compensation sanction order.
Payment of Compensation:
Unidentified Vehicles and the Insured:
Challenges faced by insurance companies when the offending vehicle is
- In case of death of the victim, the amount of compensation i.e. Rs. 2,00,000/- will be paid to the legal representative of the deceased.
- In case of grievous injury, the amount of compensation i.e. Rs. 50,000/- will be paid directly to the injured person.
- The General Insurance Council will directly make an E payment to the bank account provided by the claimant or legal representative of the deceased.
- It is mandatory to make payment within the period of 15 days from the date of receipt of the order.
- In case the payment is delayed due to any reason, the Claims Settlement Commissioner shall record the reason in writing.
When the offending vehicle is still unknown, hit-and-run cases frequently pose a
special challenge. Victims are left to deal with uncertainty in such
circumstances, and insurance companies have a difficult time handling claim. It
is essential to comprehend the legal responsibilities and factors pertaining to
unidentified vehicles. However, the challenge lies in proving the involvement of
an unidentified vehicle, requiring meticulous documentation of the incident and
any available evidence.
Legal Obligations of Insurance Providers:
Contributing to the Motor Vehicles Accident Fund:
The Motor Vehicles Act mandates that insurance companies make contributions to
the Motor Vehicles Accident Fund. In situations where the vehicle that caused
the offense is unknown, victims can receive compensation through this fund. The
usefulness of the fund depends on insurers meeting their financial obligations.
Legal Consequences of Uninsured Vehicles:
legal repercussions for uninsured vehicles involved in hit and run incidents:
In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court has requested all states to ensure that
in the event of an accident involving an uninsured vehicle, the owner of the
vehicle is required to pay appropriate compensation to the victim's family.
The owner of the uninsured vehicle may be required to auction the vehicle if
necessary and the proceeds of the auction shall be paid to the claims tribunal
to make good the losses sustained by the victim.
The role of the Motor Vehicles Act in penalizing owners of uninsured vehicle:
Recent Legal developments and Precedents:
- Compulsory third-party insurance:
The Indian Motor Vehicle Act requires that all vehicles on the road be covered
by a valid insurance policy. At least, the liability of third parties should be
covered by this insurance policy. A failure to comply with that mandatory
insurance requirement shall constitute a breach of the law. Car owners are
required to carry compulsory third party liability insurance to cover damage and
injury to third parties in the event of an accident.
This law ensures that owners are financially responsible for potential liability
if their car is involved in an accident.
The 3rd party insurance relates to covering the damage done by one's own vehicle
to other vehicle or property or life. "The need for this ruling arose based on
that fact that every day numerous accidents occur on a road and the party in
question may not have an insurance policy or is carrying an expired policy,"
- Regulatory Sanctions:
Owners of uninsured cars are subject to special fines as prescribed by the Act.
These sanctions, which usually consist of fines, can change depending on the
kind of vehicle and how long the violation lasted. Implementing the requirement
to ensure that vehicle owners maintain up-to-date insurance coverage is the
goal. The Act's provisions aim to create a safer and more responsible driving
environment while providing a mechanism for compensating victims of accidents
involving uninsured vehicles.
The introduction of Bharatiya Nyaya Samhita (BNS) ushered in a new era of legal
development in India, especially in dealing with serious hit-and-run cases. The
aim of the BNS is to improve road safety by introducing harsh penalties for
drivers who cause serious road accidents due to careless driving and then flee
the scene of the accident without informing the police or authorities. According
to this new law, drivers involved in such hit-and-run incidents will face stiff
This is a significant increase from the previous maximum of two years under the
IPC and demonstrates the Legislature's good faith efforts to prevent negligent
driving now they could be sentenced to 10 years in prison or a hefty fine of
Reaction of the new law:
Nationwide truck and bus driver protests, thousands of truck drivers protested
for two days resulting in shortage of fuel and people rushing to petrol pumps
causing chaotic traffic and increase in prices of necessities. Drivers demands
against tough new hit-and-run laws that have caused chaos on major interstates
and highways in many parts of the country, they are calling for strict new
regulations to be immediately repealed.
However, Truck drivers staged two days of protests after Home Minister Ajay
Bhalla said new penalties for hit-and-run cases would be implemented only after
consultation with the All-India Motor Transport Council (AIMTC). The strike was
subsequently called off.
Barra stressed that the new law had not yet come into force and urged AIMTC and
protesting drivers to get back to work.
Insurance Policy Considerations:
The Claim Enquiry Officer in each Taluka will receive an application from the
"hit-and-run" automobile victim or his legal representation. The District
Collector or the Deputy Commissioner at the district level will receive the
report and certificate of postmortem or injury certificate from the Claims
Enquiry Officer following the appropriate inquiries.
Within 15 days of receiving
the report from the claim inquiry officer, he will process the claims, approve
the payment, and send the sanction order to the insurance company's designated
office. Hit and Run Accident claims are compensated out of a Solatium Fund, to
which the general insurance industry contributes according to a predetermined
formula. Claims administration is completed. New India Assurance Co Ltd, which
has designated one Divisional Manager in each district at the District Level
Committee, led by the District Collector, is responsible for managing claims.
Summing up, a thorough grasp of insurance policies and legal nuances is
essential for negotiating the complexities of hit-and-run situations within
Indian motor insurance. A complex environment that includes everything from the
Motor Vehicles Act's defining provisions to current legal decisions, court
rulings, and insurance policy issues must be skillfully navigated by parties.
The study highlights the importance of victim rights, road safety, and financial
accountability by emphasizing the dynamic interaction between statutory
requirements and insurance systems. In the aftermath of hit-and-run accidents
within the Indian motor insurance arena, a cooperative and flexible approach
becomes imperative as the legal and insurance landscapes continue to change.
Written By: Tushika Asthana
- Bharati Vidyapeeth's New Law College Pune
Email: [email protected]