THE PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE ACT, 1991
[Act, No. 6 of 1991]
[22nd January 1991]
An Act to provide for public liability insurance for the purpose of providing immediate relief to the persons affected by accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Be it enacted by Parliament in the Forty-first Year of the Republic of India as follows:--
Section 1. Short title and commencement
(1) This Act may be called the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
(2) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification, appoint.
Section 2. Definitions
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,--
1[(a) "accident" means an accident involving a fortuitous or sudden or unintended occurrence while handling any hazardous substance resulting in continuous or intermittent or repeated exposure to death of, or injury to, any person or damage to any property but does not include an accident by reason only of war or radio-activity;]
(b) "Collector" means the Collector having jurisdiction over the area in which the accident occurs;
(c) "handling", in relation to any hazardous substance, means the manufacture, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation by vehicle, use, collection, destruction, conversion, offering for sale, transfer or the like of such hazardous substance;
(d) "hazardous substance" means any substance or preparation which is defined as hazardous substance under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), and exceeding such quantity2as may be specified, by notification, by the Central Government;
(e) "insurance" means insurance against liability under sub-section (1) of section 3;
(f) "notification" means a notification published in the Official Gazette;
1[(g) "owner" means a person who owns, or has control over handling, any hazardous substance at the time of accident and includes--
(i) in the case of a firm, any of its partners;
(ii) in the case of an association, any of its members; and
(iii) in the case of a company any of its directors, managers, secretaries or other officers who is directly in charge of, and is responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company;]
(h) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
3[ha) "Relief Fund" means the Environmental Relief Fund established under section 7A;]
(i) "rules" means rules made under this Act;
(j) "vehicle" means any mode of surface transport other than railways.
|1. Substituted by Act 11 of 1992, section 2 (w.r.e.f. 31.1.1992).|
2. For the quantities specified by the Central Government see Appendix I.
3. Inserted by Act 11 of 1992, section 2 (w.r.e.f. 31.1.1992).
Section 3. Liability to give relief in certain cases on principle of no fault
(1) Where death or injury to any person (other than a workman) or damage to any property has resulted from an accident, the owner shall be liable to give such relief as is specified in the Schedule for such death, injury or damage.
(2) In any claim for relief under sub-section (1) (thereinafter referred to in this Act as claim for relief), the claimant shall not be required to plead and establish that the death, injury or damage in respect of which the claim has been made was due to any wrongful act, neglect or default of any person.
Explanation.--For the purpose of this section,--
(i) "workman" has the meaning assigned to it in the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 (8 of 1923);
(ii) "injury" includes permanent total or permanent partial disability or sickness resulting out of an accident.
Section 4. Duty of owner to take out insurance policies
(1) Every owner shall take out, before he starts handling any hazardous substance, one or more insurance policies providing for contracts of insurance whereby he is insured against liability to give relief under sub-section (1) of section 3:
Provided that any owner handling any hazardous substance immediately before the commencement of this Act shall take out such insurance policy or policies as soon as may be and in any case within a period of one year from such commencement.
(2) Every owner shall get the insurance policy, referred to in sub-section (1), renewed from time to time before the expiry of the period of validity thereof so that the insurance policies may remain in force throughout the period during which such handling is continued.
1[2A) No insurance policy taken out or renewed by an owner shall be for an amount less than the amount of the paid-up capital of the undertaking handling any hazardous substance and owned or controlled by that owner, and more than the amount, not exceeding fifty crore rupees, as may be prescribed.
Explanation.--For the purposes of this sub-section, "paid-up capital" means, in the case of an owner not being a company, the market value of all assets and stocks of the undertaking on the date of contract of insurance.
(2B) The liability of the insurer under one insurance policy shall not exceed the amount specified in the terms of the contract of insurance in that insurance policy.
(2C) Every owner shall also, together with the amount of premium, pay to the insurer, for being credited to the Relief Fund established under section 7A, such further amount, not exceeding the sum equivalent to the amount of premium, as may be prescribed.
(2D) The insurer shall remit to the authority specified in sub-section (3) of section 7A the amount received from the owner under sub-section (2C) for being credited to the Relief Fund in such manner and within such period as may be prescribed and where the insurer fails to so remit that amount, it shall be recoverable from the insurer as arrears of land revenue or of public demand].
(3) The Central Government may, by notification, exempt from the operation of sub-section (1) any owner, namely:--
(a) the Central Government;
(b) any State Government;
(c) any corporation owned or controlled by the Central Government or a State Government; or
(d) any local authority:
Provided that no such order shall be made in relation to such owner unless a fund has been established and is maintained by that owner in accordance with the rules made in this behalf for meeting any liability under sub-section (1) of section 3.
|1. Inserted by Act 11 of 1992, section 2 (w.r.e.f. 31.1.1992).|
Section 5. Verification and publication of accident by Collector
Whenever it comes to the notice of the Collector that an accident has occurred at any place within his jurisdiction, he shall verify the occurrence of such accident and cause publicity to be given in such manner as he deems fit for inviting applications under sub-section (1) of section 6.
Section 6. Application for claim for relief
(1) An application for claim for relief may be made--
(a) by the person who has sustained the injury;
(b) by the owner of the property to which the damage has been caused;
(c) where death has resulted from the accident, by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased; or
(d) by any agent duly authorised by such person or owner of such property or all or any of the legal Representatives of the deceased, as the case may be:
Provided that where all the legal representatives of the deceased have not joined in any such application for relief, the application shall be made on behalf of or for the benefit of all the legal representatives of the deceased and the legal representatives who have not so joined shall be impleaded as respondents to the application.
(2) Every application under sub-section (1) shall be made to the Collector and shall be in such form, contain such particulars and shall be accompanied by such documents as may be prescribed.
(3) No application for relief shall be entertained unless it is made within five years of the occurrence of the accident.
Section 7. Award of relief
(1) On receipt of an application under sub-section (1) of section 6, the Collector shall, after giving notice of the application to the owner and after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard, hold an inquiry into the claim or, each of the claims, and may make an award determining the amount of relief which appears to him to be just and specifying the person or persons to whom such amount of relief shall be paid.
(2) The Collector shall arrange to deliver copies of the award to the parties concerned expeditiously and in any case within a period of fifteen days from the date of the award.
1[(3) When an award is made under this section,--
(a) the insurer, who is required to pay any amount in terms of such award and to the extent specified in sub-section (2B) of section 4, shall, within a period of thirty days of the date of announcement of the award, deposit that amount in such manner as the Collector may direct;
(b) the Collector shall arrange to pay from the Relief Fund, in terms of such award and in accordance with the scheme under section 7A, to the person or persons referred to in sub-section (1) such amount as may be specified in that scheme;
(c) the owner shall, within such period, deposit such amount in such manner as the Collector may direct.]
(4) In holding any inquiry under sub-section (1), the Collector may, subject to any rules made in this behalf, follow such summary procedure as he thinks fit.
(5) The Collector shall have all the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and of compelling the discovery and production of documents and material objects and for such other purposes as may be prescribed; and the Collector shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for all the purposes of section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974).
(6) Where the insurer or the owner against whom the award is made under sub-section (1) fails to deposit the amount of such award within the period specified under sub-section (3), such amount shall be recoverable from the owner, or as the case may be, the insurer as arrears of land revenue or of public demand.
(7) A claim for relief in respect of death of, or injury to, any person or damage to any property shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible and every endeavour shall be made to dispose of such claim within three months of the receipt of the application for relief under sub-section (1) of section 6.
2[(8) Where an owner is likely to remove or dispose of his property with the object of evading payment by him of any amount of the award, the Collector may, in accordance with the provisions of rules 1 to 4 of Order XXXIX of the First Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), grant a temporary injunction to restrain such act.]
|1. Substituted by Act 11 of 1992, section 4 (w.r.e.f. 31-1-1992)|
2. Inserted by Act 11 of 1992, section 4 (w.r.e.f. 31.1.1992)
Section 7A. Establishment of Environmental Relief Fund
1[7A. Establishment of Environmental Relief Fund
(1) The Central Government may, by notification, establish a fund to be known as the Environmental Relief Fund.
(2) The Relief Fund shall be utilised for paying, in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the scheme made under sub-section (3), relief under the award made by the Collector under section 7.
(3) The Central Government may, by notification, make a scheme specifying the authority in which the Relief Fund shall vest, the manner in which the Relief Fund shall be administered, the form and the manner in which money shall be drawn from the Relief Fund and for all other matters connected with or incidental to the administration of the Relief Fund and the payment of relief therefrom.]
|1. Inserted by Act 11 of 1992, section 5, (w.r.e.f. 31.1.1992)|
Section 8. Provisions as to other right to claim compensation for death, etc
(1) The right to claim relief under sub-section (1) of section 3 in respect of death of, or injury to, any person or damage to any property shall be in addition to any other right to claim compensation in respect thereof under any other law for the time being in force.
(2) Notwithstanding any thing contained in sub-section (1), where in respect of death of, or injury to, any person or damage to any property, the owner, liable to give claim for relief, is also liable to pay compensation under any other law, the amount of such compensation shall be reduced by the amount of relief paid under this Act.
Section 9. Power to call for information
Any person authorised by the Central Government may, for the purposes of ascertaining whether any requirements of this Act or of any rule or of any direction given under this Act have been complied with, require any owner to submit to that person such information as that person may reasonably think necessary.
Section 10. Power of entry and inspection
Any person, authorised by the Central Government in this behalf, shall have a right to enter, at all reasonable times with such assistance as he considers necessary, any place, premises or vehicle, where hazardous substance is handled for the purpose of determining whether any provisions of this Act or of any rule or of any direction given under this Act is being or has been complied with and such owner is bound to render all assistance to such person.
Section 11. Power of search and seizure
(1) If a person, authorised by the Central Government in this behalf, has reason to believe that handling of any hazardous substance is taking place in any place, premises or vehicle, in contravention of sub-section (1) of section 4, he may enter into and search such place, premises or vehicle for such handling of hazardous substance.
(2) Where, as a result of any search under sub-section (1) any handling of hazardous substance has been found in relation to which contravention of subsection (1) of section 4 has taken place, he may seize such hazardous substance and other things which, in his opinion, will be useful for, or relevant to, any proceeding under this Act:
Provided that where it is not practicable to seize any such substance or thing, he may serve on the owner an order that the owner shall not remove, part with or otherwise deal with, the hazardous substance and such other things except with the previous permission of that person.
(3) He may, if he has reason to believe that it is expedient to do to prevent an accident dispose of the hazardous substance seized under sub-section (2) immediately in such manner as he may deem fit.
(4) All expenses incurred by him in the disposal of hazardous substances under sub-section (3) shall be recoverable from the owner as arrears of land revenue or of public demand.
Section 12. Power to give directions
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law but subject to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, in exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act, issue such directions in writing as it may deem fit for the purposes of this Act to any owner or any person, officer, authority or agency and such owner, person, officer, authority or agency shall be bound to comply with such directions.
Explanation--For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that the power to issue directions under this section includes the power to direct--
(a) prohibition or regulation of the handling of any hazardous substance; or
(b) stoppage or regulation of the supply of electricity, water or any other service
Section 13. Power to make application to Courts for restraining owner from handling hazardous substances
(1) If the Central Government or any person authorised1by that Government in this behalf has reason to believe that any owner has been handling any hazardous substance in contravention of any of the provisions of this Act, that Government or, as the case may be, that person may make an application to a Court not inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of first class for restraining such owner from such handling.
(2) On receipt of the application under sub-section (1), the Court may make such order as it deems fit.
(3) Where under sub-section (2), the Court makes an order restraining any owner from handling hazardous substance, it may, in that order--
(a) direct such owner to desist from such handling;
(b) authorise the Central Government or, as the case may be, the person referred to in sub-section (1), if the direction under clause (a) is not complied with by the owner to whom such direction is issued, to implement the direction in such manner as may be specified by the Court.
(4) All expenses incurred by the Central Government, or as the case may be, the person in implementing the directions of Court under clause (b) of subsection (3), shall be recoverable from the owner as arrears of land revenue or of public demand.
|1. For list of officers authorised by the Central Government see Appendix II.|