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Lakshmamma and ors. Vs. C. Das and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCompany
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMiscellaneous First Appeal Nos. 1678 of 1982 and 217 to 221, 277 to 280, 509, 575 to 580 and 630 of
Judge
Reported in[1985]58CompCas191(Kar)
ActsMotor Vehicle Act, 1939 - Sections 110B
AppellantLakshmamma and ors.
RespondentC. Das and ors.
Appellant AdvocateV. Markhande Gowda, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateR.S. Chakrabhavi, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....the liability at the rate of 25 percent and 75 percent on the bus and truck respectively, and awarded compensation in m. 9. the points, therefore, that arise for our consideration in these appeals are :(1) whether the tribunal was justified in holding that the accident was the result of composite negligence on the part of the driver of the bus as well as the driver of the truck and that the blame worthiness was in the ratio of 25 percent on the bus driver and 75 per cent on the part of the truck driver ? (2) whether the compensation awarded in each case is just and proper ? (3) whether the liability should have been saddled jointly and severally on the respondents since the accident was the result of composite negligence on the part of the drivers of both the vehicles ? (4) what is..........the liability at the rate of 25 percent and 75 percent on the bus and truck respectively, and awarded compensation in m.v.c. nos 91 to 96 and 175 of 1979. in the case of m.v.c. no. 144 of 1979, the tribunal awarded total compensation at rs. 15,000 to the owner of the truck for the damages caused to the truck along with interest and costs. aggrieved by the said awards the claimants have come up in appeals at m.f.a. nos. 577, 578, 575, 580, 579, 630 and 576 of 1983. the owner of the bus has instituted m.f.a. nos. 577, 578, 575, 580, 579, 630 and 576 of 1983. the owner of the bus has instituted m.f.a. nos. 509, 278, 279, 277 and 280 of 1983 and the owner of the truck has instituted m.f.a. nos. 1678 of 1982; 217, 219, 218, 221, 220 of 1983. 6. the owner of the truck contended that the.....
Judgment:

Sabhahit, J.

1. These appeals arise out of a common judgment and awards made by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bangalore Rural District, Bangalore, in M.V.C. Nos. 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 144 and 175 of 1979, dated June 19, 1982.

2. The brief facts are these :

A tourist bus No. MED 2844 and a goods vehicle bearing No. MYD 2462 were involved in an accident that occurred on April 11, 1979, at about 9-30 p.m. on Bangalore Mysore road near Kanmanike village. The bus was coming from Mysore side whereas the truck was going towards Mysore side. They collided on the road as the result of which 7 persons travelling in the truck died. The legal heirs of the deceased persons instituted seven claim petitions before the Claims Tribunal as M.V.C. Nos. 91 to 96 and 175 of 1979 claiming compensation from respondents.

3. M.V.C. No. 144 of 1979 is by the truck owner. He claimed compensation for damages to the truck. The respondents are the owner, driver and insurer of the bus and also of the truck.

4. The owner and driver of the truck contended that the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the bus in question whereas the owner of the bus and driver contended that the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the truck in question.

5. The Tribunal, appreciating the evidence on record, came to the conclusion that the accident was the result of composite negligence of both the driver of the bus as well as of the driver of the truck and in that view, the Tribunal apportioned the liability at the rate of 25 percent and 75 percent on the bus and truck respectively, and awarded compensation in M.V.C. Nos 91 to 96 and 175 of 1979. In the case of M.V.C. No. 144 of 1979, the Tribunal awarded total compensation at Rs. 15,000 to the owner of the truck for the damages caused to the truck along with interest and costs. Aggrieved by the said awards the claimants have come up in appeals at M.F.A. Nos. 577, 578, 575, 580, 579, 630 and 576 of 1983. The owner of the bus has instituted M.F.A. Nos. 577, 578, 575, 580, 579, 630 and 576 of 1983. The owner of the bus has instituted M.F.A. Nos. 509, 278, 279, 277 and 280 of 1983 and the owner of the truck has instituted M.F.A. Nos. 1678 of 1982; 217, 219, 218, 221, 220 of 1983.

6. The owner of the truck contended that the negligence was not in the proportion of 75 per cent on his part and merely 25 percent on the part of the bus owner. It should have been apportioned at 50 percent and 50 percent. He further contended that the compensation awarded for damages to the truck were on the lower side.

7. The owner of the bus contended that the entire negligence was on the part of the truck driver and that he should not have been held liable to any extent for causing the accident. He further submitted that the apportionment of the compensation made between the bus owner and the truck owner was not legal and proper.

8. The learned counsel appearing for the claimants-appellants submitted that since the accident was the result of composite negligence, there was no need for the Tribunal to apportion the liability and that all the parties concerned should have been made jointly and severally liable to pay the compensation. He also submitted that the compensation awarded in each case was not just and proper. According to him, it should have been more.

9. The points, therefore, that arise for our consideration in these appeals are :

(1) Whether the Tribunal was justified in holding that the accident was the result of composite negligence on the part of the driver of the bus as well as the driver of the truck and that the blame worthiness was in the ratio of 25 percent on the bus driver and 75 per cent on the part of the truck driver

(2) Whether the compensation awarded in each case is just and proper

(3) Whether the liability should have been saddled jointly and severally on the respondents since the accident was the result of composite negligence on the part of the drivers of both the vehicles

(4) What is the liability of the insurance company

10. The eye-witnesses examined are P.Ws. 1, 11 and D.W. 1. The Tribunal has rightly pointed out that the oral evidence in such a case of accident which happens in a split second should be scrutinised and should be appreciated in the light of the circumstantial evidence. The circumstantial evidence in the present case shows that the left front side of the truck was damaged and the right front side of the bus was damaged. That clearly shows that the truck went off the road on its wrong side and hit the bus. Otherwise, there could not be damage to the front side of the truck. In the circumstances, the Tribunal has rightly held on appreciating the evidence on record that there is greater liability on the truck driver in causing the accident and it is, in that view, it fixed the liability in the proportion of 75 percent on the truck driver and 25 percent on the part of the bus driver. We have no reason to differ.

11. That leads us to the quantum of compensation. We were taken through the several awards made by the learned Member of the Tribunal and reasons advanced by him.

12. In M.V.C. No. 91 of 1979, deceased was Ramakrishna Rao. He was an agricultural labourer. The Tribunal has taken that his earnings were Rs. 5 to 6 per day. He was aged about 45 years. Though his age is shown as 50 years in the post-mortem report at Ex. P-3. The Tribunal has fixed the age of the deceased at 50 years and having regard to the income of Ramakrishna Rao, the deceased, the Tribunal has fixed the monthly contribution to the family at Rs. 80 which amounts to Rs. 960 annually. The Tribunal has taken his working years as 10 and fixed the total loss of dependency at Rs. 9,600. It has deducted Rs. 1,000 for lump sum payment and uncertainties of life; it has fixed the total loss of dependency at Rs. 8,600. The Tribunal has added Rs. 5,000 towards loss to the estate of the deceased; Rs. 2,000 towards loss of consortium and Rs. 400 towards incidental and funeral expenses. Together, therefore, the Tribunal has awarded Rs. 16,000 as total compensation. It cannot be said that the figures arrived at by the Tribunal is not just and proper. Hence, we are satisfied with the compensation given by the Tribunal as just and proper.

13. In M.V.C. No. 92 of 1979, P.W. 4, Jayamma, is the widow of the deceased and the second claimant is the mother; claimants Nos. 3 to 5 are the minor children of the deceased, Ramakrishnappa. The deceased was an agriculturist and he was running a sugarcane crusher. His income is taken at Rs. 2,000 per year by the Tribunal. Rs. 800 deducted towards personal expenses and multiplying the balance for about 15 working years, the Tribunal has arrived at gross loss of dependency at Rs. 18,000. Out of this, 15 per cent. is deducted towards uncertainties of life and lump sum payment, it fixed the net loss of dependency at Rs. 15,300. To this, it has added Rs. 4,000 towards loss of consortium, Rs. 5,000 towards loss to the estate of the deceased and Rs. 1,000 towards funeral and incidental expenses. Together, therefore, the total compensation was arrived at Rs. 28,300 by the Tribunal. It cannot be said that the method adopted by the Tribunal and the compensation awarded are not just and proper. We hold it just and proper.

14. In M.V.C. No. 93 of 1979, P.W. 5, Lakshmamma, is the widow of the deceased,, Venkatachaliah. He was aged 41 years at the time of his death by the accident according to the claimants. But the post-mortem report shows his age as 38 years. The tribunal fixed his aged at 40 years. He was an agriculturist and a petty merchant. His income is taken at Rs. 6 per day and the gross loss of income for 15 years is calculated at Rs. 21,600. Deducting 15 per cent. towards lump sum payment and uncertainties of life, the Tribunal fixed the loss of dependency at Rs. 18,360. To this, it added Rs. 5,000 towards loss to the estate of the deceased and Rs. 3,000 towards loss of consortium. Together, therefore, Rs. 26,360 is fixed as total loss of compensation It cannot be said that the compensation so awarded is not just and proper. We hold that it is just and proper.

15. In M.V.C. No. 94 of 1979, the deceased, Dasegowda, was aged 55 years, according to the claimants, at the time of his death by the accident. P.W. 6, Venkatamma, is the widow of the deceased. The age of the deceased is shown in the post-mortem report as 55 years. He was working in his lands. The loss of dependency is fixed at Rs. 7,200 taking his working life as 5 into consideration. In view of the fact that only 5 years are taken, there is no further deduction for uncertainties of life and lump sum payment. In addition to this, the Tribunal has awarded Rs. 5,000 towards loss of consortium and Rs. 500 towards incidental and funeral expenses. Together, therefore, it awarded Rs. 12,700 as total compensation. The amount arrived at by the Tribunal is just and proper. We have no reason to interfere.

16. In M.V.C. No. 95 of 1979, P.W. 7, Shivananjappa, the petitioner, is the father of the deceased boy, Nanjappa. He was aged 9 years at the time of death by the accident. A compensation of Rs. 8,000 is awarded in this case. We have no reason to interfere.

17. In M.V.C. No. 96 of 1979, the deceased was aged 35 years according to the claimants. He was earning Rs. 3 to 4 per day as a cooly. He was working whenever he got work. The Tribunal, on an average, has taken his earnings as Rs. 3 per day and deducting Rs. 55 towards his personal expenses, the monthly loss of dependency is fixed at Rs. 45 which amounts to Rs. 540 per year and on that basis using the multiplier 12, the Tribunal has fixed the total loss of dependency at Rs. 6,480 and has rounded it off to Rs. 6,500. It also awarded Rs. 4,000 towards loss to the estate of the deceased. Together, therefore, the Tribunal has awarded Rs. 10,500 as compensation. It cannot be said that the figure arrived at by the Tribunal is not just and proper.

18. In M.V.C. No. 175 of 1979, the petitioner, P.W. 3, is widow of Anthappa alias Govindappa. He was aged 35 years at the time of the accident. He was working as a cooly. In the post-mortem report at Ext. P-9, the age of the deceased is shown as 40 years. He was earning Rs. 10 to 15 per day according to the claimants. The Tribunal has taken his daily earnings at Rs. 10 and deducting Rs. 4 for personal expenses and Rs. 4 for his food and raiment, has fixed Rs. 2 as loss of dependency. Therefore, the loss of dependency would be Rs. 60 per month and Rs. 720 per year and taking his working life at 15, the total loss of dependency comes to Rs. 10,800. Deducting Rs. 1,000 for uncertainties of life and lump sum payment, the Tribunal arrived at a net loss of dependency at Rs. 9,800. In addition to this, it has awarded Rs. 5,000 towards loss to the estate of the deceased, Rs. 3,000 towards loss of consortium and Rs. 200 per incidental expenses, Together, therefore, the Tribunal awarded Rs. 18,000 as compensation with costs and interest. It cannot be said that the figure arrived at by the Tribunal is not just and proper.

19. In M.V.C. No. 144 of 1979, the petitioner is the owner of the truck. The petitioner, the lorry owner, claimed Rs. 40,800 towards damage to the truck. The Tribunal, taking into consideration the documents produced in the case, and observing the fact that there is no evidence about the value of the truck at the time of the accident, has fixed the damage at Rs. 15,000 as suggested by the other side in the cross-examination. The figure arrived at by the Tribunal, in our considered view, is just and proper. We have no reason to interfere.

20. Thus, we find that the compensation awarded in each case is just and proper.

21. It is a settled principle of law in the case of K. Gopalakrishnan v. Sankara Narayanan, : AIR1968Mad436 , wherein it is clearly held that it is not necessary to apportion the negligence in the case of composite negligence. In the case of Golak Chandra Das v. Kousalya Nayak [1978] ACJ 48 (Orissa) the High Court of Orissa at Cuttack has held that there is no justification for the Tribunal to apportion the compensation and fix the liability on the two vehicles as it was a case of composite negligence and both were jointly and severally liable for the whole loss. Similarly, in the case of Karunakar Pradhan v. Sarojini Mishra [1980] ACJ 121 (Orissa), His Lordship of the Orissa High Court has reiterated the same position of law. In the case of A. Shivarudrappa v. General Manager, Mysore Road Transport Corporation [1973] ACJ 302 (Mys), the High Court of Mysore has held that in the case of composite negligence, it is not necessary to apportion the liability. Similar position is reiterated in the case of K. V. Narasappa v. Kamalamma [1969] ACJ 127 (Mys).

22. In the circumstances, therefore, we have no hesitation to hold that the Tribunal should not have apportioned the liability among the various joint tort feasers and the insurance company. It should have awarded the compensation against the respondents jointly and severally. We accordingly direct the modification of the awards made.

23. In the result, therefore, all the M.F. As, are partly allowed except in the case of M.F.A. No. 221 of 1983, which appeal stands dismissed. No costs of these appeals.

24. Under s. 110 B of the M.V. Act, 1939, we direct that the insurance company shall pay the compensation awarded and it is at liberty to seek and recover the contribution from the concerned. The liability of the insurer is fixed in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in Motor Owners' Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jadavaji Keshavji Modi [1982] 52 Comp Cas 454.


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