Chennai: Taking a serious view of multiple insurance claims for an accident and involvement of lawyers and touts in the process, the Madras High Court appointed an expert body headed by retired judge K Chandru to inquire into the menace.
Justice P N Prakash also ordered that the investigation into the FIR related to missing of 55 Motor Claims Tribunal Original Petition (MCOP) case bundles be handed over to the CB-CID police.
The judge was hearing a petition filed by Cholamandalam MS General insurance company seeking an investigation into an alleged scam involving multiple compensation claims over a road accident death by presenting fabricated FIR copies.
The company in an additional affidavit stated that there were 353 MCOPs which come under the umbrella of duplicate claims relating to five insurance companies across Tamil Nadu.
Coming down on the manner in which advocates handled MCOP cases, some of them even signing case papers brought by touts without even seeing the parties, the judge said, “This blood money by ambulance chasers has now taken the ugly form of a Frankenstein’s monster.
“I am afraid that it may, at any time, devour the entire judicial system, before which, we have to press the alarm bell,” the judge said.
He said there was a dire need for an expert body to go into the entire jurisdiction (motor accident claims), identify its pitfalls and suggest solutions to redress them to ensure purity.
Appointing retired high court judge K Chandru as the head, he directed the panel to provide its report on the duplicate claims on the same accident, if any, and who were the counsels behind such claims.
He wanted the expert body to suggest means of securing better access to information regarding motor accidents by automatic uploading of information regarding registration of FIR and all relevant records.
After going through the affidavits filed by the advocates for the three different claims and the claimants, the Judge said FIRs have to be filed and an investigation launched against advocates Raveendran, Arunachalam, and Jeyakumar.
He also directed the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the advocates for professional misconduct.
The judge also ordered disciplinary action against another lawyer Murugan, who had filed one of the claim petitions though he had not seen any of the parties and signed papers brought by a tout.
He referred to the complaint given by advocate S Thambi regarding missing of 55 case bundles of MCOP cases filed by him from 2012 to 2017. These case bundles were not available in the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Chennai, at all.
He directed the CB-CID to proceed further with the investigation in order to unravel the mystery of the missing bundles.
Further, the Judge ordered the Registrar (Judicial) of the high court to issue a circular to all Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals in the state to insist on the personal appearance of the claimants or their authorized representatives for presenting the claims.
The claimants shall furnish an affidavit that the claim petition was the only one filed by them in respect of the accident in question.