Dr. G.F. Couto, J.
1. Whether the provisions of section 92A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act"), are applicable even to pending cases relating to accidents that took place prior to its coming into force is the short but interesting question that this appeal by the original sixth respondent gives rise to and that falls for my determination.
2. A traffic accident took place on August 9, 1982, and as a result thereof, the husband of respondent No. 1 and the father of respondents Nos. 2 and 6 herein came to die. By an application dated January 28, 1983, the said respondents sought compensation under section 110A of the Act and, thereafter, by another application dated July 21, 1983, they sought the benefit given by the newly introduced section 92A. This application was allowed by order dated August 5, 1983, and the Presiding Officer of Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Margao, accordingly ordered the appellant and the National Insurance Co. Ltd. to deposit, each of them, a sum of Rs. 7,500 to be paid to respondents Nos. 1 to 6 in case they were able to prove that they were the legal representatives of the deceased.
3. It is against this order that the present appeal is directed, the appellant's case being that the impugned order is bad in law inasmuch as the Tribunal has wrongly held that the provisions of section 92A of the ACt are applicable to the facts and cirucmstances of the case. Mr. Bharne, learned counsel appearing for the appellant, has indeed submitted that the amendment through which section 92A was inserted in the Act came into force only on October 1, 1982, i.e., some time after the date on which the accident took place. In fact, the accident took place on August 9, 1982, and, therefore, when the cause of action arose, the provisions of section 92A of the Act had not come into force. He then contended that in the premises and since the applications to get the compensation under sections 110A and 92A were filed only on January 28, 1983, and July 21, 1983, respectively, the latter provision of law ought not and could not have been applied with restrospetive effect as it was done by the Tribunal.
4. Thought duly served, the respondent did not put in appearance at the hearing, nor were they represented and thus, in order to get adequate and proper assistance, the court appointed Mr. S. D. Lotlikar, as amicus curiae. Dealing with the submissions of Mr. Bharne, learned amicus curiae urged that it is quite clear from the facts of the case that the Tribunal has not applied the provisions of section 92A retrospectively, but on the contrary, its application was prospective, for section 92A came into force on October 1, 1982, and the applications for compensation, both under sections 11-A and 92A, were filed much later. Thus, it would be wrong to hold, he contended, that section 92A was applied in this case retrospectively. This apart, according to him, it is obvious that the said provision of law has to be applied to all pending cases, for it was introduced to remove the then existing evil which was,in practice, depriving the victims of a traffic accident or their legal representatives of the benefits of compensation. He contended that, as held by the Supreme Court in Lakshmi Narayan Guin v. Niranjan Modak , the new law applies even to pending matters if, by express language or by clear intendment, it can be inferred that that was the intention expressed by the Legislature and, therefore, since the intention of the Legislature while inserting section 92A was to enable the victims of the accidents or their representatives to receive compensation in all cases on the principle of no fault, it necessarily follows that the said provision of law applies to all pending cases, even if some rights had accrued to the other parties. In fact, he further argued, that in Guin's case , the Supreme Court held that, although rights had
been vested in a party, if the intendment of the legislature is to apply the law with retrospective effect, the existence of the vested right will not be a bar for such application.
5. Section 92A of the Act provides for liability to pay compensation in certain cases on the principle of no fault. It constitutes a beneficial piece of legislation, undoubtedly meant to give quick and effective relief to the victim of a traffic accident, or to his legal representatives in case of death. Sub-section (1) of section 92A provides that where the death or permanent disablement of any person has resulted from an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle or motor vehicles, the owner of the vehicle shall, or, as the case may be, the owners of the vehicles shall jointly and severally, be liable to pay compensation in respect of such death or disablement in accordance with the provisions of the said section. Sub-section (2) fixes the amount of compensation in Rs. 15,000 in case of death and in Rs. 7,500 for permanent disablement. Sub-section (3) provides that the claimant shall not be required to plead and establish that the death or permanent disablement was due to any worongful act, neglect or default of the owner or owners of the vehicle or vehicles concerned or of any other person. And sub-section (4) finally postualtes that a claim for compensation under sub-section (1) shall not be defeated by reason of any worongful act, neglect or default of the person in respect of whose death or permanent disablement the claim has been made, nor shall the quantum of compensation recoverable in respect of such death or permanent disablement be reduced on the basis of the share of such person in the responsibility for such death or permanent disablement. It thus follows from the above provisions of law that in any case where a death or a permanent disablement takes place as a result of an accident involving motor vehicles, compensation is to be paid irrespective of the negligence or of any wrongful act done by either party. In other words, the liability to pay compensation is not linked with negligence or with any tortious act and the principle of no fault liability is clearly laid down. The legislative intendment appears thus clear and what was apparently meant is to provide for compensation in all accident cases involving motor vehicles where death or permanent disablement occurred, the question as to whether the accident was due to a mechanical failure, or to force majeure, being entirely irrelevant and immaterial. The legislative intendment is manifestly to give some relief to those who have the misfortune of meeting with such accident or to their families. Section 92A embodies this and is, as such, a piece of welfare legislation which requires a liberal interpretation so that its benefits may be extended to all victims of accidents or their families, especially when nowhere in the said provision of law is it postulated that the benefit is given prospectively only, and on the contrary, it would appear from its wording that the said benefit is to be given in all cases where an accident occurred and as a result thereof, death or a permanent disablement was occasioned. The Statementes of Objects and Reasons of the the Amendment Act to some extent corroborates this view, for, it particularly indicates that the intention of the Legislature was to remove the evil and mischief that people who suffered the accident had to face, being sometimes unable to prove negligence or rashness of the driver or the owner of the vehicle and, therefore, unable to get the compensation they were entitled to. It is indeed stated therein that incidents of road accidents by motor vehicles had reached serious proportions and the victims of the accidents are generally pedestrians belonging to the less affluent sections of the society; that the provisions of the Act as to compensation in respect of accidents can ;be availed of only in cases of accidents which can be proved to have taken place as a result of wrongful act or negligence on the part of the owners or drivers of the vehicles concerned. Therefore, it is further stated ( 53 Comp Cas 38 (St.)):
"Having regard to the nature of circumstances in which road accidents take place, in a number of cases, it is difficult to secure adequate evidence to prove negligence. Further, in what are known as `hit-and-run' accidents, by reason of the identity of the vehicle involved in the accident not being known, the persons affected cannot prefer any claims for compensation. It is, therefore, considered necessary to amend the Act suitable to secure strict enforcement of road safety measures and also to make, as a measure of social justice, suitable provisions first for compensation without proof of fault or negligence on the part of th owner or river of the vehicle and, secondly, for compensation by way of solatium in cases in which the identity of the vehicle causing an accident is unknown." (emphasis* supplied)
6. The above quoted portions of the Statement of Objects and Reasons make it clear that the Bill for the amendment of the Act was introduced having in view the mischief that existed, i.e., that victims of accidents had to prove the rashness and negligence in the driving of the vehicle by the owner or drive thereof and that in many cases, namely, in cases of hit- and-run accidents, there was difficulty in identifying the vehicle itself. Therefore, considering also that general pedestrians are the victims of such accidents and they do not belong to the affluent sections of the society, the Legislature felt it proper to make the owners and the drivers of the vehicles liable to pay compensation on the principle of no fault. That the Statement of Objects and Reasons cannot be used for interpreting a statute is, no doubt, true. But also no less true is, as observed by the Supreme Court in Gujarat University v. Shri Krishna, , that they may and do often furnish valuable historical material in ascertaining the reasons which induced the Legislature to enact a statute. They thus indicate the background and the reasons for introducing a particular piece of legislation and serve the purpose of helping in the search for the intendment of the Legislature in enacting an Act. Section 92A is intended to provide social justice by giving compensation without proof of fault or negligence by the driver or owner of the vehicle and as such, in my view, it is manifest that the question as to whether the cause of action arose prior to its coming into force or not becomes irrelevant for the material consideration for the purpose of awarding compensation, under the said provision of law, being whether the case giving rise to that liability is still pending.
7. It was, however, contended by Mr. Bharne that the ACt has necessarily to be given prospective effect, as it is clear from the Amendment Act itself that the amendments were to come into force on such dates as notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette and by a notification published in the Government of India Official Gazette dated September 15, 1982, different dates were notified for the coming into force of several amended sections of the Act. Besides, section 92A is a completely new provision of law and for the first time, the liability on the principle of no fault has been introduced. According to learned counsel, this being so if the intention of the Legislature was to apply the said provision of law with retrospective effect, then, that much would have been expressly stated in the Act, and this much was not done.
8. Section 1(2) of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1982, provides that the said Act would come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of the Act. It would thus appear that Mr. Bharne is correct in his submission. But, on a deeper consideration of the problem, I am of the view that it is not so. No doubt, a law is ordinarily prospective in its operation, but its retrospective application may be expressly provided for or may flow by necessary implication, from its language. The amendment to the Act was enacted with the aim to give quick and effective relief to the victim of a motor vehicle accident or to his family and it would appear from the language of section 92A what the Legislature intended to extend such benefits to all the persons who had been affected by a traffic accident resulting in death or in a permanent disablement. Now, it has been observed in Mst. Rafiquennessa v. Lal Bahadur Chetri, , that where vested rights are affected by any
statutory provision, the said provision should normally be construed to be prospective in operation and not retrospective, unless the provision in question relate merely to a procedural matter. It was further added that the Legislature is competent to take away vested rights by means of retrospective legislation and that similarly the Legislature is undoubtedly competent to make laws which override and materially affect the terms of contracts between the parties; but unless a clear and unambiguous intention is indicated by the Legislature by adopting suitable express words in that behalf, on provision of a statue should be given retrospective operative if, by such operation, vested rights are likely to be affected. The Supreme Court then observed that retrospective operation of a statutory provision can be inferred even in cases where such retrospective operation appears to be clearly implicit in the provision construed in the context where it occurs. This view was approved by the Supreme Court in several other cases, inter alia, in L. N. Guin's case . Their Lordships of l;the Supreme Court had indeed observed in the latter case that a change in the law during the pendency of an appeal has to be taken into account and will govern the rights of the parties as has been laid down in Ram Sarup v. Munshi , and then quoted with approval the observations made in Dayawati v. Inderjit , to the effect (at page 274 of  1 SCC):
"If the new law speaks in language, which, expressly or by clear intendment, takes in even pending matters, the court of trial as well as the court of appeal may give effect to such a law even after the judgment of the court of first instance."
9. I have already said that the legislative intendment was to give a quick relief to the victims of motor vehicle accidents or to their families on the principle of no fault. I have also said that section 92A does not expressly restrict its application to future cases and it being a piece of welfare legislation, has to be interpreted liberally. I am, therefore, of the considered view that the above tests laid down in Dayawati's case when applied to the case at hand, fully warrant the conclusion that section 92A is to be applied to all pending cases irrespective of the date on which the accident occurred, the fact that the Amendment Act postulates that the amendments will come into force on that dates notified in the Government Gazette being of no consequence. Similarly, the circumstance that section 92A is an entirely new provision in no manner negatives the view taken by me.
10. Mr. Bharne last contended that in the present case, some rights had accrued to the insurance company. In fact, at the time of insuring a vehicle, considering the risk involved. a premium is calculated. The insurance policy does not include payment of compensation on the principle of no fault and, therefore, the said provision of section 92A cannot be applied to cases where the accident occurred before its coming into force, as the vested right accrue to the insurance company will be taken away. I, however, find it difficult to accept these submissions of Mr. Bharne. No doubt, at the time of entering into a contract of insurance, the risks involved are taken into consideration and possible the premium is fixed on such basis. But this does not mean that the rights accrued to the insurance company will be taken away if the provision of section 92A is applied even to cases arising out of accidents which occurred before its coming into force. I say so, because if ultimately, the insurance company is not, under the terms of the insurance policy, liable to pay compensation, then, it will be always open to it to get from the owner of the vehicle the refund of the money paid to the victim of the accident or to his family. Apart from this, it may be pointed out that it flows from Guin's case that even where a right had been vested in a
particular party, retrospective application of a new law can be made if such is the intendment of the Legislature. In my view, therefore, the benefit of section 92A of the Act is to be extended to all cases arising out of motor vehicle accidents which are pending disposal even if the cause of action, i.e., the accident occurred prior to the coming into force of the said provision of law.
11. Be that as it may, in the present case, the applications for compensation had been filed on January 28, 1983, and July 21, 1983, i.e., much after the coming into force of section 92A of the Act, and in the circumstances, it is apparent, as rightly pointed out by Mr. Lotlikar, that the application of section 92A of the Act by the Tribunal was prospective and not retrospective, although the accident took place on August 9, 1982.
12. The result is, therefore, that this appeal fails and is, consequently, dismissed with costs. I may, however, before parting with this case, record my deep appreciation of the fair approach to the problem by both counsel and in particular, by the learned amicus curiae, and also for the valuable assistance given by them, which rendered the task of the court simpler, easier and pleasant.