1. This appeal by the owner and the insurer of the vehicle in question is directed against the judgment and award dated 17-1-1980 passed by the Member, Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bangalore City, in Miscellaneous (MVC) Case No. 241 of 1979, on his file, awarding compensation of Rupees 1,05,246-60 P., to the injured/claimant.
2. The petitioner Kumari B. N. Renuka is the daughter of Shri B. N. Nanjundappa, a Retired I. A. S. Officer in Bangalore. The petitioner/claimant was aged about 12 years in age at the time when she presented the petition. She was studying in the Vth Standard then. On 18-2-1979, the petitioner and her parents has been to the house of one Tallam Nanjunda Setty in order to attend 'Kanakabhisheka' ceremony. The said ceremony was performed in the house of the said Setty. The house of the said Setty is about six houses away from the house of the petitioner. They are situated in the Railway Parallel Line, Kumara Park West. After attending the ceremony, the petitioner and her parents left the house of the said Setty at about 11-30 A.M. on 18-2-1979. The petitioner was going ahead of her parents. A shamayana was put near the house of the said Setty. The petitioner was going from north to south by the tar road touching the footpath. A car bearing Registration No. MYQ 6769, belonging to respondent-1 in the petition was coming from the opposite direction at a terrific speed. It was initially coming in the centre of the road. It suddenly swerved towards her and dashed against her causing injuries to the petitioner. The car did not halt but sped away. The petitioner's father was a few feet behind the petitioner. He saw the accident, rushed to the spot, borrowed the car of the said Setty, put the injured petitioner into the car and took her to St. Martha's Hospital. As a result of the accident the petitioner sustained fracture of ileum fracture of both public rami and public symphysis was separated. According to the petitioner, the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the car in question by its driver. On these averments, the petitioner claimed compensation of Rs. 1, 87,390/- from the respondents.
3. Respondent-1 is the owner of the car, respondent-2 was the person who war driving the car in question at the relevant point of time and respondent-3 is the insurer. They resisted the claim. According to them, the accident was not the result of rash and negligent driving of the car in question by its driver. They denied having caused the accident by the car in question and the claimant was put to strict proof of the averments made by her in the petition. Alternatively, they contended that the accident occurred mainly due to the negligence of the petitioner in running across the road and dashing against the car in question herself on its hand side. They further averred that the driver of the car was compelled to plead guilty in Criminal Case No. 1090 of 1979 on the file of the Metropolitan Magistrate, II Court, Bangalore City, on 31-3-1979. The alternatively contended that the compensation claimed was excessive. By an interlocutory application, they further pleaded that the car numbers given were inconsistent.
4. The Tribunal raised the following issues as arising from the pleadings:
(1) Does the petitioner prove that the injuries sustained by her were due to the rash and negligent driving of car bearing Registration No. MYQ 6769 by its driver?
(2) Is the petitioner entitled to get damages? If yes, what amount and from which of the respondents?
(3) What order?
5. During hearing, the claimants examined P. W. 1 Dr. P. S. Ramanath, P. W. 2 Kumari B. N. Renuka (the petitioner) and P. W. 3 Shri B. N. Nanjundappa (the father of the claimant). They also got marked Exhibits P-1 to P-6. As against that, the respondents examined one witness viz., R. W. 1 Narayana (the son of the owner of the car) and they also got marked Exhibits R-1 to R-3.
6. The Tribunal, appreciating the evidence on record, held that the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the car in question by its driver and, in that view, it awarded compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- as general damages and Rs. 5,246-60 p., as special damages. Aggrieved by the said judgment and award, the owner and the insurer of the car in question have instituted the present appeal before this Court.
7. The learned Advocate appearing for the appellants strenuously urged before us that the Tribunal was not justified in coming to the conclusion that the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the car in question by its driver. He further submitted that the claimant was not even able to prove that it was the car bearing Registration No. MYQ 6769 that caused the accident. Alternatively he submitted that the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is very much on the higher side.
8. As against that, the learned Advocate appearing for the respondent claimant argued supporting the judgment and award of the Tribunal.
9. The points, therefore, that arise for our consideration in this appeal are:
(1) Whether the Tribunal was justified in holding that the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the car in question by its driver?
(2) Whether the compensation awarded is just and proper?
(3) What order?
10. It is not in dispute that the driver of the car bearing Registration No. MYQ 6769, which caused the accident, was charge-sheeted for rash and negligent driving and that he pleaded guilty before the Magistrate and that he was sentenced.
11. It is no doubt true that in the written statement there is an explanation offered by the owner that the driver was coerced by the police to confess before the Court. But the driver discreetly desisted from entering the witness-box and offering himself for cross-examination. He did not offer any explanation for his confession.
12. This Court has ruled in the case, Vinobabai v. K. S. R. T. C., (1979) 1 Kant LJ 257 that when the driver admits his guilt before the Criminal Court and is convicted, it would establish prima facie that he was guilty of rash and negligent driving and we have pointed out above that the driver did not care to enter the witness-box and offer any explanation.
The admission, therefore, becomes decision on the facts of the present case that the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving of the car in question by its driver. That is the conclusion arrived at by the Tribunal and we affirm it.
13. There is no substance in the submission made before us by the learned Advocate appearing for the appellants that the car number was not properly shown in the claim petition. The car number is properly shown against Column No. 14 as 'MYQ 6769' and it is properly understood by the respondents in the petition. Though the father of the injured-claimant wrongly mentioned in the First Information Report the number of the car in question, the police, after Investigation, correctly charge-sheeted the driver of the correct car and the driver admitted his guilt before the Criminal Court. That being so, the mistake made in mentioning the car number against Column No. 22 in the petition does not loom large; it is of no significance and consequence on the facts of the present case.
14. That leads us to the question of quantum of compensation - Whether Rs. 1,00,000/- awarded by the Tribunal towards general damages is just and proper?
15. The compensation has to be awarded for the injury, for pain and suffering; for the disabilities caused and for loss of amenities. The Doctor, who examined and treated the injured girl, is examined before the Tribunal as P. W. 1. He has stated in the course of his evidence, speaking about the injuries sustained by the girl and the disabilities left, thus:
'I am working as an Orthopaedic Surgeon in St. Martha's Hospital and I am attached to St. John's Medical College. On 18-2-1979, at about 11.40 A. M. I examined the injured petitioner Renuka aged about 12 years. The history given to me was that she was knocked down by a car. She was getting pains in her left abdomen and she was getting pains in her left and right hip joints. She was unable to walk. She had an abrasion over the left eye-lid. X-Rays were taken. X-Rays revealed (1) fracture of the left ileum, (2) fracture of both the bones of pubic rami and (3) there was separation of the pubic symphysis.'
The Doctor has further deposed that the girl was an in-patient in St. Martha's Hospital from 18-2-1979 to 19-3-1979; that both the hip joints were put on traction; that both the public rams were put on traction and that she was not even able to pass urine then. There was, however, no rupture of the kidneys or bladder or urethra. She was on traction for six weeks. Afterwards, she was advised absolute bed rest for another six weeks. After three months, the fractures were united. The separation of pubic symphysis was mal-united. There was a slight deformity at the side of the separation of the public symphysis. The Doctor has opined that later on the injured would have difficulty at delivery time on account of the gross inequality of the pelvic outlet due to the fractures. She may even develop urinary trouble in old age which has to be treated.
Speaking about the other permanent disabilities, the Doctor has stated:
'The petitioner has difficulty in walking, running and complete squatting and climbing stairs. These deformities are permanent.'
16. Thus, it is obvious by the evidence of the Doctor that the girl has suffered fracture of the left ileum, fracture of the pelvic bone and public rami and that there was separation of public symphysis which was mal-united. She would have difficulty in delivery and she cannot walk properly. She cannot squat and climb the stairs without difficulty. These are the permanent disabilities and deformities. Compensation, therefore, has to be awarded, for these bearing in mind the loss of amenities of life and the pain and suffering that she underwent and that she is likely to undergo in future. We have also to bear in mind that she has lost prospects of her marriage with a good boy. She comes from a family having considerable social status. She is the daughter of a Retired I. A. S. Officer.
17. The Tribunal, advancing its reasons for awarding Rs. 1,00,000/- towards general damages, has stated inter alia thus:
'..........I think ends of justice would be met if Rs. 1,00,000/- is awarded as general damages. Any amount of compensation awarded in the case will not restore the petitioner to normal life. She is deprived once for all of the pleasure of getting a baby naturally. If a woman is deprived of getting baby, her life becomes miserable, morose and bleak. Some times, ladies get mentally affected if they do not get children and if they are not able to get children properly in a natural way. Therefore, even the amount of compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- as general damages would not bring back the petitioner to normal life of a lady. But, however, the Courts are helpless. But Courts can only award some compensation as a relief for the disabilities sustained.'
18. It is obvious by reading the above observations of the Tribunal that the Tribunal has not properly appreciated the scope of the mischief done. It is not as if the mal-union of the pelvic bone would prevent the girl from getting a child if she is otherwise fir to bear a child. It would only cause her trouble in delivering the baby and may be that the baby has to be delivered by operation. Therefore, the Tribunal was clearly in error in thinking that she would not get a baby at all and her life is rendered miserable, morose and bleak.
19. The Tribunal has to award compensation taking into consideration the awards made in similar cases over a period of time. The Tribunal, in this case, has no doubt observed that the compensation is awarded taking into consideration the run of damages made in similar case. But conspicuously, the Tribunal has not cited any decision in which damages are awarded for the fracture of pelvic bone.
20. Our attention was invited to a decision of the Madras High Court in the case, Ayesha Begum v. G. Veerappan (1966 Acc CJ 101). Therein, the High Court of Madras had an occasion to consider the injury caused to girl of 5 1/2 years as a result of an accident by a truck. Her pelvic bone was dislocated and the sacroiliac joint was also fractured and dislocated. The injury to the pelvic bone was likely to lead to permanent disability at the time of delivery and greatly affect her future happiness as a married woman. The injury to the limb prevented free movement of her legs for all times to come. The chances of improvement were slender. Moreover, hideous disfigurement resulting from the injury was likely to make the child suffer dreadful psychological reactions. Her marriage prospects were uncertain. Medical evidence was that she would have difficulty during child birth.
21. Thus, the syndromes and the symptoms, the pain and suffering and the disabilities suffered, were similar in that case as in this case, though, in this case the hideous disfigurement is absent. The Tribunal in that case awarded Rupees 5,000/- as compensation and the High Court of Madras raised it to Rs. 15,000/-. This is a comparable case and the award made in that case should be of assistance to us in awarding the compensation in the present case. It is no doubt true that the accident in question in the Madras case occurred on 16-8-1961 and the accident in question in the present case occurred on 18-2-1979, i.e., nearly after eighteen years of the Madras accident. It is, therefore, necessary to bear in mind in awarding the compensation that the money value is much reduced subsequently due to inflation. Moreover, as is observed in the Madras case, the social status of the family of the injured child should also be taken into consideration.
22. In the instant case, the injured is the daughter of an I. A. S. Officer (Retired), as stated above. Having regard to this and bearing in mind that the whole life of the child has been blighted and the girl has to suffer life-long, we find, it necessary to reduce the general damages awarded from Rs. 1,00,000/- to Rs. 50,000/-.
23. The Tribunal has awarded Rupees 1,954/- under the heading 'Hospital charges', Rs. 292.60 P., under the heading 'Expenses of medicine', Rs. 1,000/- under the heading 'Nourishing food', Rs. 1,500/- under the heading 'Charges for Ayahs' and Rs. 500/- under the heading 'Vehicle Expense'. We affirm the same. Together, therefore, the claimant is entitled to compensation of Rs. 55,246.60 P., which we round off to Rs. 55,500/-.
24. In the result, therefore, the appeal is partly allowed. The compensation awarded at Rs. 1,05,246.60 P., is reduced to Rs. 55,500/- Appellant-2 (the insurer) shall deposit the amount along with interest at 6 per cent from the date of petition till payment as also the costs of the claimant before the Tribunal, less the amount already deposited if any before the Tribunal and the Tribunal shall deposit in a Nationalised Bank in Fixed Deposit in the name of the minor claimant Rupees 50,000/- with her father as guardian, till such time as she attains the age of majority. The father of the girl is at liberty to withdraw interest accruing on the said sum from time to time and spend the same for the welfare of the minor girl. The rest of the amount shall be disbursed to the father, the guardian of the injured girl, as she has incurred the expenses of medical treatment to the girl and the costs of proceedings.
25. No costs in this appeal.
26. Order accordingly.