1. This appeal under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (to be hereinafter referred to as the Act) is from the judgment of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bangalore (to be hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal) in Misc. No. 90 of 1967, awarding a compensation of Rs. 10,700/- to one Kanthamma. widow of late Veeraraghavaiah. who died in an automobile accident The appellants before this Court are the Commandant, Sub-Area. Cubbon Road, Bangalore, and the Union of India represented by the Secretary, Defence Department. New Delhi.
2. The respondent herein filed an application under Section 110-A of the Act before the Tribunal against the present appellants and their driver claiming compensation in respect of an accident, caused by a military truck bearing No. 10700 near B. R. V. Talkies involving the death of her husband. Veera-raghavaiah. on 4-10-1965 at 11-30 a.m.
3. The respondent's case is briefly thus: The military truck bearing No 10700 belonged to the A.S.C. Centre, Sub-Area. Bangalore. It was driven by one Darsan Singh. Sepoy Driver of the A.S.C. Centre. Veeraraghavaiah. husband of the respondent, was working as a civilian sweeper under the first appellant and was getting a salary of Rs. 125/- per month. On 4-10-1965 at 11-30 a.m. he was proceeding on a cycle towards B. R. V. Talkies from the Sub-Area. The military truck came behind the cycle end overtook it without giving any signal, and while so overtaking, the truck touched the cycle. Veeraraghavaiah fell down, and the hind wheel of the truck ran over him. As he had sustained injuries, he was removed to the hospital where he succumbed to injuries. In all, the respondent has claimed a sum of Rs. 15,000/- towards compensation.
4. The appellants have resisted the claim on the ground that the application was barred by time and that Veeraraghavaiah himself was responsible for the accident by riding the cycle at top speed and dashing against the truck. Though they have admitted that Darshan Singh was driving the truck at that time, they have denied that he was driving it rashly or negligently. According to them, the special and the general damages claimed by the respondent are excessive.
5. On these pleadings, the Tribunal framed the following issues:--
(1) Whether the petitioner proves that her husband died as a result of the accident on 4-10-1965?
(2) Whether the accident was caused by rash and negligent driving of the military lorry as alleged?
(3) Whether respondents 2 and 3 prove that the deceased was himself responsible for the accident by his own negligent conduct?
(4) What compensation?
6. On the question of limitation, the Tribunal was of the opinion that the respondent had shown that she was prevented by sufficient cause from presenting the application within the period of limitation; and hence condoned the delay. The Tribunal has found that the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the truck by the driver of the appellants, and therefore, awarded general damages of Rs. 10,200/- and special damage of Rs. 500/-.
7. The main question for decision in this appeal is whether the accident which involved the death of Veeraraghavaiah. was caused by rash or negligent driving of the military truck or was due to the negligence of deceased Veeraraghavaiah himself.
8. The respondent has examined five witnesses in support of her case and the appellants have not examined any witness in support of their case.
9. The accident took place on 4-10-1965 and the claim petition was presented before the Tribunal on 18-4-1967. Thus there was a delay of 18 months in presenting the claim petition. Sri M. Papanna, Junior Central Government Standing Counsel, firstly contended that the Tribunal erred in condoning the inordinate delay in presenting the claim petition. He urged that the reasons given by the respondent do not constitute sufficient and justifiable reason for condoning the delay.
10. The proviso to Section 110-A (3) of the Act expressly provides that the Tribunal may entertain an application after the expiry of the period of six months, if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time.
11. The respondent, in order to establish that she was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time, has examined herself as P.W. 2. P.W. 4 is the doctor who treated her and P.W. 3 is her relative who helped her at the time of the funeral ceremony of her husband and also during her illness after the death of her husband. The cause for the delay in presenting the application, according to her was that she was mentally upset after hearing the death of her husband as a result of the accident and she took treatment from P.W. 4, an Ayurvedic Doctor. P.W. 4 has given evidence that he is a Medical Practitioner, in Ayurveda. that the respondent was brought to his dispensary, that he treated her from 7-10-1965 to 4-10-1967 for mental trouble and nervous weakness and that he gave the medical certificate Ex. P-1. He has also stated that she was not answering questions, that whenever she recollected the incident, she fainted and that he discharged her from the hospital on 4-10-1967. His evidence that she had mental trouble and nervous weakness, has not been challenged in the course of cross-examination.
P. W. 3 is the uncle of the respondent. He has stated that she received a shock and was mentally upset as a result of the death of her husband and that a few months later, she was brought to Bangalore.
There is satisfactory evidence to show that the respondent suffered mental trouble and nervous weakness for a long time after the death of her husband. Thus, in our opinion, the respondent was prevented by sufficient cause from making the application in time and the Tribunal has rightly condoned the delay. Therefore, the first contention of Mr. Papanna fails.
12. In order to prove actionable negligence on the part of the truck driver. P.W. 1 Chinnaiah and P.W. 5 Muniswamy. Head Constable on traffic duty at the B.R.V. Circle, have been examined as eye-witnesses. P.W. 1 Chinnaiah has stated thus: On 4-10-1965 at about 11-30 in the morning, he was near the B.R.V. Circle on the foot-path. He saw a cyclist going on the road and immediately behind him a military truck came with speed. He saw the constable who was on duty signalling him to stop. The driver did not heed but proceeded and took a sudden turn to the left and in that act the truck hit the cyclist from behind. The cyclist fell down and the truck ran over him. Then the constable gave a signal and halted the truck which had gone 4 or 5 yards farther. The police constable took the injured in an auto rickshaw to the hospital.
In the course of his cross-examination. P. W. 1 Chinniah denied the suggestion that the cyclist tried to overtake the truck and that therefore the accident occurred.
13. P.W. 5, as stated earlier, is another eye-witness to the accident He has stated thus: On 4-10-1965 he was on duty at the B.R.V. Circle for signalling. At about 11-35 a.m. a cycle was coming from the Sub-Area side towards B.R.V. theatre side. It was coming on its proper side of the road. Behind the cycle, a military truck came and overtook the cycle without giving signal. While so overtaking, the body of the truck touched the cycle. The cyclist fell down and the hind wheel of the truck ran over him. He (the witness) ran and stopped the truck. The injured was still alive and was lying on the road in a pool of blood. He took the injured in an auto rickshaw to the hospital. The injured person died in the hospital. Then he telephoned to the Sub-Inspector of Police and went back to the B.R.V. Circle for duty.
In the course of cross-examination. P. W. 5 denied the suggestion that when the cyclist overtook the truck this accident took place.
14. Sri Papanna pointed out in the evidence of P.W. 1 and P.W. 5 that the speed of the truck was stated as 15 to 20 miles per hour. He contended that such speed could, by no means, be said to be excessive and that therefore it cannot be said that the driver of the truck was driving it in a rash and negligent manner. The argument of Sri Papanna cannot be accepted in view of the evidence given by the two eye-witnesses and also in view of Rule 4 (a) of the Tenth Schedule and Rule 2 of the Eleventh Schedule to the Act. The evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 5 clearly establishes that the driver of the truck, without giving signal, overtook the cycle, took a turn to the left, that in that act, the body of the truck hit the cyclist from behind and that when the cyclist fell down the truck ran over him.
15. Rule 4 (a) of the 10th Schedule to the Act reads as under:
'4. The driver of a motor vehicle shall not pass a vehicle travelling in the same direction as himself -
(a) if his passing is likely to cause Inconvenience or danger to other traffic proceeding in any direction.'
16. Rule 2 of the Eleventh. Schedule lays down as under:--
'2. When about to turn to the left or to drive to the left hand side of the road, a driver shall extend his right arm and rotate it in an antilock wise diretion.'
The evidence of the eye-witnesses clearly establishes that the truck driver violated both the aforesaid rules inasmuch as he did not give any signal while turn-ins to the left at B. R. V. Circle and passed the cycle travelling in the same direction so as to touch the cycle. Such infraction of traffic rules justifies the conclusion of rashness and negligence on the part of the driver of the vehicle, hearing No. 10700. Therefore, We agree with the finding of the Tribunal on this Point.
17. As regards the pecuniary loss to the dependency, the Tribunal has assessed it at Rs. 50/- per month. It is in evidence that deceased Veeraraghavaiah who was a sweeper employed in the A. S. C. Centre. South. Bangalore, was setting a basic salary of Rs. 70/- per month and D. A. of Rs. 33/- per month at the time of his death. In all, he was getting a total monthly emolument of Rs. 125/- including allowances. This position is not disputed by the appellants. The tribunal has proceeded on the basis that the deceased was sparing Rs. 50/-per month for the maintenance of the respondent. This estimate is not excessive. As deceased Veeraraghavaiah was serving in the Defence Department, there was every chance of his getting increments in the time-scale of pay and contributing more in future years for the maintenance of the respondent. Therefore, the loss of dependency estimated at Rs. 50/- per month, is reasonable and not excessive. The deceased who was about 24 vears old at the time of his death, would have been in service till he attained the age of 58 years, if he had not died in the accident. The respondent who was about 18 years of age at the time of the death of her husband, could be expected to live till he would have retired. The total loss to the dependency assessed at Rs. 20,400/- can by no means be said to be excessive. But the Tribunal has taxed down this amount by 50 per cent for various uncertainties and imponderables in the lives of the respondent and her husband and for the advantage of receiving the compensation in a lump sum. But taxing down by 50 per cent appears to be excessive. Further, the Tribunal has not awarded any damages for the loss of expectation of the life of Veeraraghavaiah, to which the respondent as representing his estate, was entitled in law. In these circumstances, general damages at Rs. 10,200/- awarded by the Tribunal, can by no means, be regarded as excessive and does not call for interference by this Court.
18. The respondent had claimed Rs. 1,000/- towards the special damages to meet the funeral expenses and travelling expenses. The Tribunal has awarded Rs. 500/-. which, in our opinion, is quite reasonable.
19. For the reasons stated above, the findings of the Tribunal and the compensation awarded by it, do not call for interference. The appeal fails and the same is dismissed with costs. Advocate's Fee Rs. 100/-.