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Kamana Vanaraju Vs. the A.P. State Road Transport Corporation and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1984)ACC438
AppellantKamana Vanaraju
RespondentThe A.P. State Road Transport Corporation and anr.
Excerpt:
.....section 110. the absence of any reference to property in section 110-a in connection with use of expression 'injury' considered to be associated with body only clearly indicates that section 110-a is designed to give relief of compensation for injury to person only. there is a profuse reference to claim regarding property in the main provision of section 110 and the proviso as well and the expression 'damage' is used in relation to property and section 110-a pertains to 'injury' only followed up by death. the wide amplitude attributed to the expression 'injury' before the amendment cannot be reconciled with section 110 wherein the expression 'injury' is unequivocally associated with body only and further 'damage' is used in connotation with property in the main provision and in the..........right on the person who sustained injury or the legal representatives in the event of death to claim compensation. the absence of specification of right to claim compensation in respect of damage to property is significant and conspicuous. the assence of the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the expression 'injury' in unamended section 110-a is comprehensive enough to take in the damage to the property and the amendment introduced by clause (aa) by act 47 of 1978 with effect from 16-1-1979 is clarificatory and should not be considered as a remedy or right conferred for the first time. the learned counsel for the respondent contended that there was deliberate omission prior to amendment introduced by clause (aa) and the expression 'injury' should be.....
Judgment:

Rama Rao, J.

1. This appeal under Section 110-D, Motor Vehicles Act, is at the instance of the petitioner-claimant. The petitioner filed a petition under Section 110-A, Motor Vehicles Act, for award a compensation of Rs. 8,200 with interest from the date of accident for the damage caused to the shop of the petitioner in a bus accident. The petitioner is the proprietor of cloth shop of Razole. On 31-1-1977, a bus belonging to A.P.S.R.T.C. ran into his shop and destroyed his show-case and furniture. As the bus approached the shop of the petitioner which was in the main road, Razole, it was being driven rashly and negligently by respondent 2 and entered into the petitioner's shop. The front portion of the shop was damaged and a tailor received minor injuries. Because of the impact of the bus, show-cases, an almirah lights, a sewing machine, a cycle, a table fan and other articles worth Rs. 3,200 were destroyed. The petitioner suffered shock and he was unable to carry on his business for some time and thereby the business turnover in his shop suffered considerably. The estimate of loss in business is made at Rs. 4,000 and for mental shock, the claim of Rs. 1,000 is claimed. Respondent 1 opposed the claim by stating that the bus was not driven rashly or negligently by respondent 2 driver, but the accident occurred due to a cyclist and another person going on a motor cycle suddenly crossing the road. The bus was then going at a speed at 15 KM per hour and suddenly a cyclist came in front of the bus carrying another person on the carrier of the cycle. At the same time another person riding a motor cycle also carrying one more person on its saddle, came in the opposite direction on the right side. The motor cyclist crossed the road to the other side and so the driver of the bus had to swerve it to the right side and as the brakes failed, the accident occurred. The bus did not crash into the shop and no damage was caused to the property. But for the failure of the brakes, the accident would not have occurred. The petitioner did not suffer any loss or damage or mental shock and the claim deserves to be rejected. Respondent 2 in a separate counter denied the allegation of rash and negligent driving. It is also denied that the bus dashed against the shop and the petitioner or anybody else sustained injuries in the alleged accident. The issues were framed regarding the rash and negligent driving by respondent 2 and the quantum of compensation payable. The court below held that there is no satisfactory clinching proof of the bus having been driven by respondent 2 rashly and negligently, but some damage appears have been caushed by the dashing of the bus against the shop. In so far as to quantum of damages, the court below held that the petitioner is not entitled to award of any compensation in consequence of the accident in question.

2. The learned Counsel for the appellant contended that admittedly the bus hit against the shop and in view of the damage caused to the shop, the court below should have awarded damages, as claimed by the petitioner. The learned Counsel for the respondent at the outset raised a preliminary objection that this claim for damage of the property is not maintainable as the accident occurred on 31-1-1977 and claim petition was filed on 11-7-1977 prior to the amendment made in Section 110-A, Motor Vehicles Act, by inserting Clause (aa) providing for award of damages to the owner of the property and in any event the petitioner is not entitled to the award of any compensation in the circumstances. To appreciate the preliminary objection raised by the learned Counsel for the respondent, it is necessary to get at Sections 110 and 110-A Motor Vehicles Act to the extent relevant:

110. Claims Tribunal: (1) A State Government may by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute one or more Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals (thereinafter 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 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 Claim Tribunal shall have no jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to such claim. 110-A. Application for compensation: (1) An application for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in Sub-section (1) of Section 110 may be made:

(a) by the person who has sustained the injury; or

(aa) by the owner of the property; or

(b) where death has resulted from the accident, by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased; or

(c) by any agent duly authorised by the person injured or all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased as the case may be.

3. Section 110 authorises the State Government to constitute the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals specifying the area of operation for the purpose of adjudicating claims for compensation in respect of all accidents involving death or bodily injury to persons or damages to any property of a third party. Section 110-A prior to insertion amendment, by introduction of Clause (aa) with effect from 16-1-1979; conferred right on the person who sustained injury or the legal representatives in the event of death to claim compensation. The absence of specification of right to claim compensation in respect of damage to property is significant and conspicuous. The assence of the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that the expression 'injury' in unamended Section 110-A is comprehensive enough to take in the damage to the property and the amendment introduced by Clause (aa) by Act 47 of 1978 with effect from 16-1-1979 is clarificatory and should not be considered as a remedy or right conferred for the first time. The learned Counsel for the respondent contended that there was deliberate omission prior to amendment introduced by Clause (aa) and the expression 'injury' should be restricted and allocated to bodily injury only. The learned Counsel for the appellant referred to the decision of Karnataka High Court in Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation v. Jyoti Constructions, Mangalore 1979 ACJ 426. In this case, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation instituted a claim against the respondent for damages to the bus caused by a truck due to accident. The plea of the respondent was that Section 110-A(1) did not enable a person to prefer an application for damages to the property and the combined reading of Sections 110 and 110-A indicated that the persons who suffer merely damages to the property are not entitled to apply to the Claims Tribunal for compensation. In this context the expression 'injury' has been interpreted as wide enough to cover damages to the property also. The next decision relied upon by the learned Counsel for the appellant in Haryana State v. Pusa Ram 1979 ACJ 12: (Punj HC). In this case, the Haryana State preferred a claim application before the Tribunal by way of compensation on the allegation that 5 buffaloes of the Progeny Testing Farm, Hissar, were killed by rash and negligent driving of truck No. HRH-7467. The claim was resisted by the respondent who raised a preliminary objection that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain the same. On these facts, the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that 'injury' in Clause 1(a) of Section 110 bears comprehensive ambit and covers damage to the property also. The learned Counsel for the respondent at any outset relied upon the unreported decision of Mukhtadar J. in A.A.O. 445 of 1979 dated 8-10-1980. In this case, it was contended that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain the claim of damage to the property before the amendment which came into force on 26-12-1978. In this case the accident occurred on 18-3-1977. This decision centred round the aspect of retro-activity of the amendment and in view of the committed prospective texture of the amendment restropective effect cannot be attributed to the amendment, but the other dimension whether the expression 'injury' in the unamended provision takes in its fold the damages to the property also was not considered.

4. To appreciate the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the amendment is only clarificatory, it is necessary to focus upon the purport of Section 110-A as it stood before amendment before dilating upon the change in complexion intended by the amendment. Section 110-A without insight into the intricacies of the wide connotation of 'injury' facilitates the person who sustained the injury to claim compensation and the legal representatives to claim compensation on death. The expression 'sustained' preceding 'injury' in company with the claim in the event of death indicates the injury to the body of the person. This is reinforced by Section 110 wherein the injury is preceded by 'bodily' indicating that the injury is understood as being associated with body and this is highlighted by distinctive expression 'damage' used in relation to property. The proviso to Section 110 makes the position abundantly clear by using the expression 'damage' only in relation to property. Section 110 is the mother provision and Section 110-A is offspring and the right to relief embodied in Section 110-A springs from Section 110. The absence of any reference to property in Section 110-A in connection with use of expression 'injury' considered to be associated with body only clearly indicates that Section 110-A is designed to give relief of compensation for injury to person only.

5. Section 110 is aimed at constituting and investing the Tribunals with power to adjudicate upon the claims for compensation in respect of bodily injury and death and also damages to property. Section 110-A is follow-up of Section 110 and the right to claim compensation is conferred and this right is confined only to injury which expression in the context of set up of Section 110 connotes bodily injury and the right regarding compensation for damage of property is omitted. There is a profuse reference to claim regarding property in the main provision of Section 110 and the proviso as well and the expression 'damage' is used in relation to property and Section 110-A pertains to 'injury' only followed up by death. The amendment by introduction of Clause (aa) at a subsequent stage dispels the contention based upon the intention of the Legislature to cover claims in respect of property and the wide connotation to 'injury' covering damage to property also, is not in accord with the intention of the Legislature and the purport of the provision.

6. The omission made by the legislature, cannot be made up by the Judicial decision and the introduction of the damage to property in unamended Section 110-A will be tantamount to rewriting the section or introducing something which the provision is not intended to bear. Further, there is absolutely no semblance of clarification or reference to omission in the Statement of Objects and Reasons. It is patent from notes to clauses that the relief of compensation for damages to property was introduced for the first time by amendment and it was not in contemplation anterior to the same. The wide amplitude attributed to the expression 'injury' before the amendment cannot be reconciled with Section 110 wherein the expression 'injury' is unequivocally associated with body only and further 'damage' is used in connotation with property in the main provision and in the proviso as well. The Karnataka High Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the decisions cited above unduly stretched the reach of the expression 'injury' and I am not able to agree with the said decisions. In this view, it is not necessary to consider the contention regarding the quantum of damages.

7. In the result, the appeal is dismissed. No costs.


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