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`Triple-riding on motorcycle is contributory negligence'

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI FEB. 6. Three persons riding a motorcycle is illegal and unauthorised, the Madras High Court has ruled. In the event of fatal accidents, triple-riding would be considered a `contributory negligence'.

Reducing by half the compensation awarded for the death of a second pillion rider, a Division Bench comprising Justice S. Jagadeesan and Justice D. Murugesan said: "Motorcycles and any other two-wheeler are meant only for two persons — the rider and the pillion rider. If more than two persons are riding a motorcycle, undoubtedly such action would become illegal and unauthorised.

"Three persons riding one motorcycle is an awful sight. They sit in such a cramped manner that the rider sits almost on the fuel tank or the frontedge of the seat. When he sits in such a position, naturally because of the restricted movements of his legs and hands, the rider cannot have complete control over the vehicle". Expressing concern at the rampant practice of triple-riding by youth, especially college students, the Bench said: "the enforcing authority is expected to implement the statute strictly to avoid any untoward incident".

However, the contributory negligence factor would not be applicable to a case in which a family consisting of the husband, wife and children was travelling. "Even in such cases, if more than one child aged between 10 and 12 is being taken, the principle of contributory negligence will be applicable in case of any accident".

The Bench was passing orders on an appeal by the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Coimbatore division), challenging a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal order awarding Rs. 2.2 lakhs to the kin of a person who was killed in an accident while riding, along with two others, a motorcycle.

The appellant contended that the victim was not eligible for any compensation because under the Motor Vehicles Act, only two persons could ride a motorcycle. "The Tribunal ought to have reduced the compensation by making a deduction towards contributory negligence by the rider as well as the pillion riders". Accepting the submission, the Bench held that since there was a contributory negligence on the part of the deceased, the claimants were entitled to only 50 per cent of the award. Accordingly, it reduced the compensation to Rs. 1.1 lakh.

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