1. Kersasp Ardeshir Mehta met with an accident at 4.15 p.m. on 26th April 1970 in front of Council Hall. The negligence on the part of the driver of the jeep which dashed against him was not in issue before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal and the only issue that was before the Tribunal was regarding damages. The Tribunal awarded him Rs. 2,100/- as general damages against which Mehta appeals and claims Rs. 15,000/- by way of damages, general and special in this appeal.
2. Only one witness was examined in this case, that is, the claimant himself and he told the Tribunal that he was earning Rs. 350/- per month and used to earn about Rs. 200/- by way of overtime.
3. It appears that before the Tribunal, the counsel for Mehta, properly conceded that Mehta has received his salary as well as the medical expenses from his employer the Central Bank. That is why only general damages to the extent of Rs. 2,100/- were awarded by the Tribunal.
4. I am afraid that it would not be a correct approach in the matter of assessment of damages. It is true that many a employer, as a welfare measure, do have provisions for grant of sick leave as well as reimbursement of medical expenses in their service contract but if Mehta has availed of this concession in this case he may be hard put it at a later date unfortunately he falls ill due to natural causes and is bed-ridden. Most of the employers have an upper limit on the period of sick leave and medical expenses and hence exhaustion of this concession in the period arising out of the accident would put Mehta in an unenviable position of footing the bill should an occasion arise in the future.
5. Mehta was earning Rs. 350/- per month and was getting about Rs. 200/- per month as overtime. He had to take sick leave of 104 days. The amount spent on hospital expenses has not been indicated in the judgment because probably everybody took it for granted that those expenses having been paid by the employer need not be proved. Considering the two fractures suffered by Mehta, the hospital expenses would not be less than Rs. 3 000/-and the loss of earnings during the period of 3 1/2 months would be Rs. 1,750/-. Mehta had deposed before the Tribunal that he continues to suffer pain in the spine and the extent of physical injury is obvious from the fact that he had to be hospitalised for a long period of 104 days. Consequently, the quantum of general damages of Rs. 2,00/- is on the very low side and even if the quantum is put at Rs. 5,000/-, the aggregate will exceed the claim of Rs. 15,1000/- perferred by Mehta which I find is reasonable
6. In the passing I may observe that though the jeep belonged to the Finance Ministry of the Union of India, no plea has been taken that at the time of the accident the jeep was being driven in the discharge of sovereign functions of the Government and no defence of sovereign immunity has been put up by them.
7. In the result, the appeal succeeds and the award is modified to read Rs. 15,000/- for Rs. 2,100/- granted by the Tribunal. Respondent. The Union of India to bear their own costs and pay these of the Appellant throughout.