Whether owner of vehicle would get benefit of insurance if meet with accidental death while driving illegally

Supreme Court in Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jhuma Saha (Smt) and Ors. (2007) 9 SCC 263, was considering a similar case where the owner himself was driving the vehicle which due to his negligence dashed with a tree on the roadside as a result of which he died. The Court held that the claim petition filed by his LRs was not maintainable. It was held thus:-

“10. The deceased was the owner of the vehicle. For the reasons stated in the claim petition or otherwise, he himself was to be blamed for the accident. The accident did not involve motor vehicle other than the one which he was driving. The question which arises for consideration is that the deceased himself being negligent, the claim petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 would be maintainable.

11. Liability of the insurer Company is to the extent of indemnification of the insured against the respondent or an injured person, a third person or in respect of damages of property. Thus, if the insured cannot be fastened with any liability under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, the question of the insurer being liable to indemnify the insured, therefore, does not arise”.

It is an admitted position that the deceased was the owner-cum-driver of the vehicle in question. The accident had occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the vehicle by the deceased. No other vehicle was involved in the accident. The deceased himself was responsible for the accident. The deceased being the owner of the offending vehicle was not a third party within the meaning of the Act. The deceased was the victim of his own action of rash and negligent driving. A Claimant, in our view, cannot maintain a claim on the basis of his own fault or negligence and argue that even when he himself may have caused the accident on account of his own rash and negligent driving, he can nevertheless make the insurance company to pay for the same. Therefore, the respondents being the LRs of the deceased could not have maintained the claim petition filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. [NATIONAL INSURANCE CO. LTD. …..  VERSUS ASHALATA BHOWMIK AND ORS. SC CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9100 OF 2018]