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United India Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Pallamparty Indiramma and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.A.O. Nos 233, 234, 295 and 296 of 1979
Judge
Reported inAIR1982AP267
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 95, 95(2), 110 and 110-A
AppellantUnited India Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd.
RespondentPallamparty Indiramma and ors.
Advocates:J.V. Suryanarayana Rao, ;S. Dasaratharama Reddy, ;S.R. Ashok and ;P. Babulu Reddy, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....spot and other got injured - application was filed for compensation - total sum of rs. 140000 was awarded to the widow of deceased - appellant submits that extent of liability of insurer in any accident limited to rs.50000 and tribunal committed an error in making insurer liable to pay compensation of rs.140000 - plea rejected since it was raised for the first time in appeal before the court - appeal dismissed and compensation allowed. - all india services act, 1951. sections 32(c) (as amended by section 3 of amendment act, 2005] & 10 & general clauses act, 1897, section 6: [g.s. singhvi, cj, dr.g. yethirajulu, ramesh ranganathan, g.bhavani prasad, c.v. nagarjuna reddy, jj] exemption of building from applicability of provisions of act held, (per majority) section 32(c) of the act..........in o. p. 140 of 1977 and p.w. -4 the partner of mallikarjuna agencies, nellore, in which the deceased sreenivasulu reddy was working as marketing agent and help that the monthly income of the deceased sreenivasulu reddy at the time of his death could have been about rs. 1,500/- per month and in any event not less than rs. 1,000/- even if a wide margin was given. he held that the deceased would have spent on himself 1/4th of his earning and could have spared about rs. 750 per month for the expenditure on his wire and children. he calculated his life expectancy at 60 years. since the deceased was only 38 he calculated the total earning for 20 years and deducted the said amount by 25% because of the lump sum payment and awarded a sum of rs. 1,35,000/- towards compensation for loss to.....
Judgment:

Chennakesav Reddy, J.

1. These four appeals are spawned by a common order passed by the Additional Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal-cum-Additional District and Sessions Judge, Nellore in two applications O. P. Nos. 140 and 141 of 1977 filed under S. 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act.

2. The fact and circumstances giving rise to these applications are these:

On 6-4-1977 at about 9-30 a.m. there was a motor accident on the Penner Road Bridge near Nellore town involving the bus APN 5938 and the scooter AAU 889. P. Srinivasulu Reddy and his co-brother P. Venkata Krishna Reddy were going to Nellore on the scooter. Venkata Krishna Reddy was seated on the pillion while Sreenivasulu Reddy was driving the scooter. When they were proceeding on the over-bridge, the bus APN 5938 owned by Challa Venku Reddy and driven by Shaik Peeran came in the opposite direction at a high speed. A row of bullock carts were passing in the same direction as the scooter towards Nellore. The Scooter overtook some of he carts and it was passing the last bullock cart. The bus coming in the opposite direction dashed against the scooter. As a result of the rash and negligent driving of the bus by the driver, Sreenivasulu Reddy and Venkata Krishna Reddy received multiple injuries. Sreenivasulu Reddy died in the Govt. Headquarters Hospital, Nellore, on the same day. The injured Venkata Krishna Reddy was treated as an inpatient till 1-5-1977 and he was later admitted in a Nursing Home at Hyderabad for operation and treatment and ultimately discharged on 16-6-1977. The Doctor, PW 5, who examined Venkata Krishna Reddy found a fracture of right femur and fracture of right remur and fracture of Patella and injuries on his right leg and opined that there was a restriction in the movement of his left leg due to injuries. The legal representatives of the deceased Srinivasulu Reddy filed O. P. No. 140 of 1977 before the Tribunal claiming a total compensation of Rs. 2,50,000/- out of which a sum of Rs. 2,25,000/- was as compensation for loss to the estate, Rupees 20,000/- towards compensation for loss of consortium and Rs. 5,000/- for pain and suffering. The first petitioner is the widow of Srinivasulu Reddy and the other 3 petitioners are his minor children. According to the petitioners the deceased Srinivasulu Reddy was a Marketing Agent from 1-4-1975 till the date of his death and his monthly income was Rupees 1,600/- and he was also an Income tax assessee. He was aged 36 years and hale and healthy and had a very bright future. The owner of the bus, the driver of the bus and the United India Fire and Genera Insurance Company Ltd, with which the bus was insured are impleaded as respondents 1 to 3 respectively.

3. Venkata Krishna Reddy, the other injured in the accident filed O. P. No. 141 of 1977 claiming a total compensation of Rs. 30,000/- towards special and general damages. According to him, he is a Junior Engineer in the service of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and his monthly income is Rs. 1,160/-. He is aged about 30 years.

4. Respondents 1 and 3 resisted the application contending inter alia that the second respondent was not guilty of rash and negligent driving and that it was the deceased who was driving the scooter rashly and negligently and that at any rate the compensation claimed was excessive and exorbitant. It was also pleaded by the first respondent that he was not liable to pay any compensation. Even if any compensation was found payable to the petitioner it as only third respondent that has to pay the compensation. the second respondent in his separate counter pleaded that accident occurred entirely due to the negligent driving of the deceases Sreenivasulu Reddy and in any case he was not liable to pay any compensation as he was only a driver. The two petitions were heard together. On the aforesaid pleadings, the Tribunal below framed the following common issues for trial.

1. Whether the petitioner sustained injuries as a result of the bus accident on 6-4-1977 and whether the said accident was due to the rash and negligent driving of the driver, the 2nd respondent of the bus APN 5938 owned by the 1st respondent and insured with 3rd respondent?

2. Whether the petitioner is entitled to any compensation? If so, what is the quantum and from which of the respondents?

3. To what relief the petitioner is entitled?

5. On behalf of the petitioners, six witnesses were examined PW 1, the petitioner in O. P. NO. 141 of 1977 and PW 2, M. Satyanarayana, are the direct witnesses to the accident.

6. RWs. 1 and 3 are the driver and the conductor of the bus respectively. The Tribunal on an effective evaluation of the evidence held that the accident in which Sreenivasulu Reddy died on PW 1 received injuries occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus APN 5938 by its driver, the 2nd respondent and that there was no contributory negligence on the part of late Sreenivasulu Reddy. On the quantum of compensation, he accepted the evidence of P.W. 1, the evidence of P.W. 3, the father-in-law of the petitioner in O. P. 140 of 1977 and P.W. -4 the partner of Mallikarjuna Agencies, Nellore, in which the deceased Sreenivasulu Reddy was working as Marketing Agent and help that the monthly income of the deceased Sreenivasulu Reddy at the time of his death could have been about Rs. 1,500/- per month and in any event not less than Rs. 1,000/- even if a wide margin was given. He held that the deceased would have spent on himself 1/4th of his earning and could have spared about Rs. 750 per month for the expenditure on his wire and children. He calculated his life expectancy at 60 years. Since the deceased was only 38 he calculated the total earning for 20 years and deducted the said amount by 25% because of the lump sum payment and awarded a sum of Rs. 1,35,000/- towards compensation for loss to the estate. Towards the loss of consortium he awarded Rs. 5,000/-. Thus he awarded a total compensation of Rs. 1,40,000/- to the petitioners in O. P. No. 140 of 1977 and directed that the compensation amount be deposited by respondents 1 and 3 jointly and severally. In O. P. No. 141 of 1977 he awarded a sum of Rs. 12,160/- towards special damages and Rs. 5,000/- as general damages. Thus a total amount of Rs. 17,160/- was awarded as compensation payable by respondents 1 and 3 jointly and severally. Out of the total compensation of Rs. 1,40,000/- awarded in O. P. No. 140 of 1977, the Tribunal directed that a sum of Rs. 50,000/- shall be paid to the first petitioner and the balance of Rs. 90,000/- shall be divided equally among petitioners 2 to 4 and the said sum shall be invested in a scheduled bank in fixed deposits in their names for a period of sixtyone months.

7. Aggrieved by the order of the Tribunal the Insurance Company has preferred C. M. A. Nos. 233 and 234 of 1979 against O. P. Nos. 140 and 141 of 1977 respectively and the petitioners in O. P. No. 140 of 1977 have preferred cross-objections in C. M. A. No. 233 of 1979 claiming that the Tribunal ought to have awarded a sum of Rs. 2,25,000/- under the head loss to the estate and also awarded the other compensation claimed by the petitioners in the petition. The owner of the bus has filed C. M. A. Nos. 295 and 296 of 1979 respectively against the order of compensation awarded in O. P. Nos. 140 and 141 of 1977. The petitioners in O. P. No. 140 of 1977 have preferred cross-objections in C. M. A. No. 295 of 1979.

8. Mr. Babul Reddy, the learned counsel for the appellants in C.M.A. Nos. 295 and 296 of 1979 levels a chorus of criticism on the credibility of the P.Ws. 1 and 2 to the accident. He submits that their evidence was highly interested and artificial and was unworthy of acceptance. According to him, the evidence of R.W. 1, the driver of the bus, was more cogent and convincing when he swore that he was only driving the bus at 15 or 20 K.Ms. that the scooter suddenly overtook the cart and dashed against the bus and that he did his best to avoided the accident. He also submits that the amount of compensation awarded to the petitioners in O. P. No. 140 of 1977 was excessive. Even conceding that the deceased could have spared a sum of Rs. 750 every month out of his earnings he argues that the aid amount can easily be earned by way of interest by depositing a sum of Rs. 60,000 in a fixed deposit in any nationalised bank and that the appellant is prepared to make necessary arrangements so that the petitioners are paid by a nationalised bank every month a sum of Rs. 750 for a period of 20 years. He also submits that the Tribunal erred in granting a decree against the owner, and the Insurance Company along was liable for the entire amount of compensation. The learned counsel for the appellants in C.M.A. Nos. 233 and 234 of 1979 submits that the liability of the Insurance Company in respect of any accident is limited to a sum of Rs. 50,000 under S. 95 (2) (b) (ii) of the motor Vehicles Act. The learned counsel, on the other hand, appearing for the claimants, submits that the amount of compensation awarded was not fair and reasonable. Therefore, the questions that arise are:

(1) Whether the accident occurred due to the rash and negligence driving of the driver of the bus APN 5938;

(2) Whether the amount awarded is exorbitant and excessive;

(3) Whether the extent of liability of the insurer in any one accident is always limited to Rs. 50,000 under S. 95 (2) (b) (ii) of the Motor Vehicles Act.

(1) Rash and Negligent Driving:

9. The decision on this question depends upon the credibility of P.Ws. 1 and 2 P.W. 1 is a Junior Engineer. Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board. He was seated on the pillion of the scooter AAU 889. The deceased Sreenivasulu Reddy was driving the scooter. It is in the evidence of P.W. 1 that at about 9-30 A.M. on 6-4-1977, the scooter overtook 3 bullock carts on the Pennar Bridge and when it was about to overtake the 4th bullock cart, the bus APN 5938 which was coming in the opposite direction dashed against the scooter on the right side. According to him the bus came at a high speed and hit the scooter violently and as a result, the witness and Sreenivasulu Reddy were thrown away from the scooter and both of them received injuries. The witness received a fracture of his high bone and knee cap while Sreenivasulu Reddy received injuries on the chest and head resulting in the fracture of the ribs and scalp. The persons who gathers at the scene took P.W. 1 and the deceased in car to the Government Headquarters Hospital, Nellore. P.W. 1 gave the name of the person who followed to the Hospital in the car as M. Satyanarayana, P.W. 2. P.W. 2 has substantially supported the story unfolded by P.W. 1 According to P.W. 2 he was going on a cycle on the morning of 6-4-1977 at about 9-30 A.M. on the Pennar Bridge from South to North. He was sitting on the carrier of the cycle while on Nageswara Rao was riding the cycle. The witness observed a scooter coming in the opposite direction. Four bullock carts were also coming in the opposite direction. He also observed the bus APN 5938 coming in the same direction as they were going on the bridge. When the scooter passed 3 carts and about to pass the 4th Bullock cart the bus overtook the cycle on which the witness was travelling at a high speed and dashed against the scooter. The driver of the scooter and the pillion rider were thrown off and the scooter fell on them. According to the witness, he and others took the injured persons in an ambassador car to the hospital and admitted both the injured in the hospital. As against the evidence of P.Ws. 1 and 2 there is the evidence of the driver and conductor of the bus viz., R.Ws. 1 and 3 respectively. According to their evidence, the bus was going on left side of the road and when the bus passed 3 bullock carts which were coming in the opposite direction, a scooter suddenly overtook the 3 carts and overtook the last art and hit the bus. According to R.W. 1 he applied brakes and tried to avoid the accident, but still the bus hit the scooter. R.W. 3 the conductor of the bus corroborated the evidence of R.W. 1.

10. P.W. 2 is undoubtedly a disinterested witness. His evidence is clear and clinching. He has categorically stated that after the scooter passed three bullock carts and was about to pass the 4th bullock cart, the bus came at a high speed, overtook the cycle and dashed against the scooter and the driver of the scooter and the pillion rider were thrown out. He was examined by the police even in the hospital itself, and P.W. 1 also mentioned the name of P.W. 2 as the person who took them to the Hospital. Therefore, the presence of P.W.2 at the time of accident cannot also be doubted. In the circumstances, the Tribunal below rightly accepted the evidence of P.W.s 1 and 2 in preference to the interested testimony of P.Ws. 1 and 3. R.W. 1 is no other than the driver of the bus. R.W. 1 also admitted that he also observed bullock carts coming in the opposite direction at a distance of 1 K.M. and he also admitted that another cycle was going in front of the bus. The Claims Tribunal has give very cogent and convincing reasons in paragraphs 20 and 21 of the judgment for accepting the evidence of P.Ws, 1 and 2 in preference to that of R.W. s 1 and 3 even on the probabilities of the case. We entirely agree with the reasoning as well as the conclusion of the Tribunal and hold that the accident took place due to the rash and negligent driving of the driver of the bus, R.W. 1.

(2) Amount of Damages:

11. The petitioners in O. P. 140 of 1977 claimed a total sum of Rs. 2,50,00 which includes a sum of Rs. 2,25,000 which includes a sum of Rs. 2,25,000 towards the compensation for loss to the estate and Rs. 20,000 towards compensation for loss of consortium and Rs. 5,000 for pain and suffering. According to the petitioners, the deceased Sreenivasulu Reddy was an young man of 35 years and he was earning a sum of Rs. 1600 per month and had a very bright future. The father-in-law of the deceased is examined as P.W. 3. It is clear from the evidence of P.W. 3 that his son-in-law Sreenivasulu Reddy was a regular income-tax assesse from the year 1966 and Exs. A-19 to A-23 are the Assessment Orders which shown that his net income ranged from 10,000 to Rupees 15,000 per year during 1966-71. In addition, it is in the evidence of P.W. 4 a partner of Mallikarjuna Agencies that the decreased was appointed as marketing agent for the said firm on commission basis subject to a maximum of Rs. 20,000 per annum. It is evident from he Exs, A-27, And 2-29, the Assessment Orders for the year 1976-77 and 1977-78 that Sreenivasulu Reddy was assessed on an income of Rs. 15,990 during the year 1976-77 and an income of Rs. 20,575 for the year 1977-78. Ex. A -26 is the certificate issued by the Principal, V. R. College, Nellore, that the date of birth of the deceased was 1-7-1938. So by the date of his death on 6-4-1977 he was so aged about 39 years. According to P.Ws. 3 and 4 the deceased was hale and healthy at the time of his death and he was earning Rs. 1500 to Rs. 1600 per month. According to P.W. 6, the first petitioner in O. P. 140/77, they were spending about Rs. 500 per month on the family and that he was able to save the rest of the amount. According to her, here husband studied up to Intermediate. From the evidence of P.Ws. 3,4 and 6 it is clear that by the time of his death, the deceased Sreenivasulu Reddy was earning abut Rs. 1500 to Rs. 1600 per month. The Tribunal, however, had that the income of the deceased could not have been less than Rs. 1,000 per month even if a wide margin is given. In our opinion, the Claims Tribunal has erred on the side of liberality in adjudicating the monthly income of the deceased. However, it is unnecessary for us to go into that question since the petitioners have not questioned that finding.

12. The Tribunal having fixed the monthly income of the deceased at Rupees 1,000 allowed 1/4th of the income towards his personal expenses and held that he could have save only Rs. 750 per month, and to that extent the estate of the deceased was deprived. He fixed the life expectancy at 60 years. Since the deceased was hale and healthy and was about 39 years, he held that he could have easily lived for another 20 years. He calculated the total loss suffered by the estate for 20 years, at Rs. 1,80,000. He deducted 25% of the said amount to wards lump sum payment and determined the loss suffered by the estate at Rupees 1,35,000 and accordingly awarded the said amount under the head loss to the estate. In calculating the loss, the Tribunal below relied on the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in Gobald Motor Service v. Veluswami : [1962]1SCR929 Under the head of compensation towards loss of consortium the Tribunal found that P.W. 6 the widow of Sreenivasulu Reddy was aged about 31 years and that she has to undergo mental and physical agony throughout her lifetime and therefore, awarded sum of Rs. 5,000. Thus a total sum of Rs. 1,40,000 was awarded to the petitioners in O. P. No. 140 of 1977. We think the amount awarded is quite reasonable.

13. The learned counsel for the first respondent, Mr. Babul Reddy, urges that the amount awarded is exhorbitant and excessive. According to him, the loss to the estate was only Rs. 750 per month and therefore a sum of Rs. 60,000 deposited in any Bank will fetch an income of Rs. 750 per month by way of interest. He submits that the appellant would deposit the said amount in fixed deposit for a period of 20 years in a National Bank and the petitioners would be empowered to withdraw the interest on the said amount. He. therefore, submits that the compensation of Rs. 1,40,000 under any circumstances is exorbitant and excessive. We are unable to accede to this contention. What S. 110-A contemplates is compensation for the death or injury and not any substitute for the loss of income and the compensation has to be ascertained in a fair and reasonable manner. The compensation awarded in this case is undoubtedly just and reasonable.

14. As regards the award of compensation to the petitioner in O. P. No. 141 of 1977 the learned counsel have not seriously disputed that it is excessive or exorbitant. Therefore, the amount of compensation awarded to the petitioner in O. P. No. 141 of 1977 is also confirmed.

15. The learned counsel for the appellant-Insurance Company submits that the extent of liability of the insurer is in any one accident always limited to Rs. 50,000 under S. 95 (2) (b) (ii) of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Tribunal committed an error in making the Insurer also liable for the entire amount of compensation of over Rs. 1,50,000. Great support is sought for from the decisions of the Supreme Court in Shekhupura Transport Co. Ltd. v. Northern India Transporters' Insurance Co. Ltd. : AIR1971SC1624 and Mrs. Manjushri Raha v. B.L. Gupta : [1977]2SCR944 . But the Insurer never raised this plea before the Tribunal in the written statement; no issue was framed and no evidence was recorded. The Insurance Policy was not produced to show that the policy did not cover higher risks than Risks. S. 95 only prescribes the minimum requirements of an Insurance Policy and the limits of liability of the Insurer thereunder. It does not preclude and prohibit a party from covering higher risks. In the absence of any pleading, issue or evidence on the question of limit of liability of the insurer, we cannot properly permit the Insurer to raise the said question for the first time in this Court. This view of ours finds support from the decision of the Allahabad High Court in National Insurance Co. v. Narendra Kumar : AIR1980All397 and of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Shyam Lal v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. (1979 ACJ 208).

16. In the result, all the appeals and the cross-objections, fail and they are accordingly dismissed. No costs.

17. Appeals and cross-objections dismissed.


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