1. This appeal under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act'), is from a judgment of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Dharwar, (hereinafter referred to as the 'Tribunal') awarding compensation for bodilyinjury and for damage to a car in an automobile accident.
2. Most of the material facts are not in dispute. On 28-6-1971 the respondent was travelling in his car on Bangalore-Poona road. A lorry belonging to appellant-1 collided against the car at a place about 4 miles from Haveri. As a result of the accident, the respondent sustained bodily injury and his car was damaged beyond repair.
3. On an application under Section 110-A of the Act, the Tribunal held that the accident was due to negligence of the driver of the lorry and awarded a compensation of Rs. 1,000 for the bodily injuries sustained by the respondent and a compensation of Rs. 10,000/- for damage to his car. The owner of the lorry and the insurance company with which the lorry was insured, have preferred this appeal.
4. In this appeal, Mr. P. P. Bopanna, learned Counsel for the appellants, urged the following contentions:
(i) The Tribunal had no jurisdiction to award compensation for damage to the respondent's car;
(ii) The compensation awarded for bodily injury was excessive; and
(iii) The compensation awarded for damage to the car, was also excessive.
5. Elaborating his first contention, Mr. Bopanna urged that under Section 110 of the Act, the Tribunal has jurisdiction to award compensation for only bodily injury or death resulting from an automobile accident and that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to award compensation for any damage to property resulting from such accident.
6. In Krishnappa v. MM & GI Co. (1971) 1 Mys LJ 86, a Bench of this Court considered the question whether under Section 110 of the Act, as it stood before it was amended by the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1969 (Central Act 56 of 1969), the Claims Tribunal bad jurisdiction to award compensation for damage to property in an automobile accident in which bodily injury or death had also resulted. Their Lordships held that where an automobile accident resulted in death or bodily injury and also damage to property of a third person, the Claims Tribunal alone had jurisdiction to adjudicate on the claim for compensation for such damage to property also. In coming to this conclusion; their Lordships followed the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Omprakash v. National Fire & Gen. insurance Co. : AIR1962MP19 , which was also followed by a single Judge of the Gujarat High Court in Joshi Ratansi Gopaji v. Gujarat SRTC 1968 Acc CJ 338.
7. However, Mr. Bopanna urged that the view taken in the aforesaid de-decisions requires reconsideration in the light of the decision of a single Judge of the Madras High Court in Selvaral v. Jagannathan, 1969 Acc CJ 1 which was followed by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in B. S. Nat v. Bachan Singh, 1971 Acc CJ 37 = (AIR 1971 Punj and Har 144) in which it was held that the claims Tribunal had no jurisdiction under Section 110 of the Act to award compensation for damage to property.
8. In the present case the accident occurred after Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1969, which amended Section 110 of the Act, came into force. Sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act, as so amended, reads:
'110. Claims Tribunals. - (1) A State Government may, by Notification in the Official Gazette, constitute one or more Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals (hereinafter referred to as Claims Tribunals) for such area as may be specified in the Notification for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles, or damages to any property of a third party so arising or both: Provided that where such claim includes a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property exceeding rupees two thousand, the claimant may, at his option, refer the claim to a Civil Court for adjudication, and where a reference is so made, the Claims Tribunal shall have no jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to such claim.'
9. Even if there was any doubt or ambiguity as to whether Section 110 of the Act, as it stood before it was so amended, conferred jurisdiction on the Claims Tribunal to adjudicate on a claim for compensation for damage to property in an automobile accident involving death or bodily injury, such doubt or ambiguity has been, in our opinion, removed by the amendment of Section 110 of the Act. The latter portion of the amended sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act, which reads 'for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of, or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of the motor vehicles, or damages to any property of the third party so arising or both', clearly shows that the Claims Tribunal has been conferred jurisdiction to adjudicate upon claims for compensation not only for death or bodily injury but also for damage to property of a third party if such damage resulted in an accident involving death or bodily injury. The proviso to that sub-section, which gives a claimant claiming compensation of more than Rs. 2,000/- for damage to property arising out of such accident, an option to refer such claim to a Civil Court for adjudication, further makes it clear that the Claims Tribunal has jurisdiction to adjudicate on claims for damages to property also arising out of such accident. If the Claims Tribunal has no such jurisdiction, such claimant can approach a Civil Court only and not the Claims Tribunal and there can be no question of option to take the matter to the Civil Court or to the Claims Tribunal.
10. However, Mr. Bopanna referred to certain observations of Suri, J., who spoke for the Bench in B. S. Nat's case 1971 Acc CJ 37 = (AIR 1971 Punj & Har 144), to the effect that a person who sustained damage to his property in a motor accident, is not one of the persons mentioned in clause (a) or (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 110-A as those who can make an application for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act. Mr. Bopanna argued that in spite of the amendment of Section 110 of the Act, the omission in sub-section (1) of Section 110-A to specify a person who has sustained damage to his property in such accident as one of the persons who can make an application for compensation, has rendered amended sub-section (1) of Section 110 ineffective to confer jurisdiction on the Claims Tribunal to adjudicate on a claim for compensation for damage to property of a third person in such accident.
11. For the purpose of this appeal, it is not necessary for us to go into the questions whether the expression 'third party' occurring at the end of subsection (1) of Section 110 includes a person other than a person who has sustained bodily injury or who is a legal representative of a person who died in an automobile accident; and whether a person who has not sustained any bodily injury in an automobile accident or who is not such legal representative, but whose property has suffered damage in such accident, can make an application under Section 110-A. In the present case, the respondent who has claimed compensation for damage to his car, had also sustained bodily injury in the automobile accident. He undoubtedly comes within the description of clause (a) of sub-sec (1} of Section 110-A of the Act and hence he was competent to make an application under Section 110-A claiming compensation not only for the bodily injury suffered by him but also for damage to his property, namely, the car. As stated earlier, sub-section (1) of Section 110 of the Act has conferred on the Claims Tribunal jurisdiction to adjudicate on a claim for compensation for damage toproperty arising out of an accident involving death or bodily injury.
12. Thus, we are unable to accept the contention of Mr. Bopanna that the Claims Tribunal, had no jurisdiction to award compensation for damage to the respondent's car.
13. Elaborating his second contention, Mr. Bopanna argued that the injuries sustained by the respondent were simple ones and that hence a compensation of Rs. 1000 therefor, was excessive.
14. The bodily injuries sustained by the respondent have been described thus in Ext. P-6, the wound certificate issued by the Resident Medical Officer of the Health Centre of Karnataka University, Dharwar:
(1) Contusion right side of chest; and (2) Bruises on the Head and Knees of therespondent.
* * * * *
15. Though the injuries were not of a serious nature, the respondent did suffer pain for about 15 days and was not able to do his normal work. As the car in which he was travelling was completely smashed, he must have received a shock of no small magnitude. Though he has not produced receipts or vouchers, some expenditure must have been incurred for his going in a taxi from the scene of occurrence to Haveri and for medical treatment.
16. Taking into account the above factors, a compensation of Rs. l,000/-awarded by the Tribunal, cannot be regarded as so excessive as to call for our interference in appeal.
17. Regarding damage to the car, P.W. 2 B. Janardhan, the owner of a garage in Mysore deposed thus: He was attending to repairs and maintenance of that car. About a month prior to the accident he had checked it up. It was in a good condition. It would have fetched Rs. 18,000/- in the market then. It was a Plymouth car of 1955 model. In his cross-examination, the witness denied the suggestion that the car could not fetch such a high price as Rs. 18,000/- and that it could fetch a price of only Rs. 5,000/-or 6,000/- in the market.
18. Mr. Bopanna argued that as the car was of 1955 make, its value could not be much after about 16 years' use and that its market value was not likely to be as high as Rs. 10,000/-.
19. Though the car was of 1955 make, according to the evidence of P. W. 2, Janardhan, it was maintained in good condition. From its name it appears to be an imported car. While the value of a car would diminish on account of use for a number of years, it is a matter of common knowledge that imported cars command good prices on account of their quality and as import of cars has been practically stopped. Hence, it cannot be said that the value of the car, as estimated by the Tribunal, was so excessive as to call for interference in appeal.
20. In the result, this appeal fails and is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/-.
21. Appeal dismissed.