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Ram Mani Gupta and ors. Vs. Mohammad Ibrahim and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.F.O. No. 431 of 1979
Judge
Reported inI(1985)ACC505; [1986]60CompCas977(All)
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 92A
AppellantRam Mani Gupta and ors.
RespondentMohammad Ibrahim and anr.
Appellant AdvocateKrishna Gopal Srivastava, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateSudhir Chandra, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
- - we agree with the tribunal that the statement of this witness is wholly unreliable. the manner in which the body was thrown inside the petrol pump premises and the motor cycle being also found lying there clearly shows that it is more probable that the accident could have taken place in the manner alleged by the respondents. it is rather strange that the best witness was notproduced by the claimants. 18. there is no substance in the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that dw-2, ram prasad, is not a reliable witness......110d of the motor vehicles act, 1939, against the order dated april 25, 1970, passed by the motor accidents claims tribunal (iii addl. district judge), allahabad, dismissing the application for compensation.2. on february 2, 1977, at about 3.30 p.m. on allahabad-varanasi road, near jaunpur petrol pump in phaphamau, one anand kumar gupta met with an accident which resulted in his death.3. in the petition, it was said that anand kumar gupta was coming on a motor cycle from tharwai on his way back to allahabad. he was coming on the road from east to west. truck no. utb 2025 was crossing the road on its way from burmah shell petrol pump towards the north to jaunpur petrol pump towards the south of the road. due to the rash and negligent driving of the truck, anand kumar gupta was run.....
Judgment:

O.P. Saxena, J.

1. This is an appeal under Section 110D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, against the order dated April 25, 1970, passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (III Addl. District Judge), Allahabad, dismissing the application for compensation.

2. On February 2, 1977, at about 3.30 p.m. on Allahabad-Varanasi Road, near Jaunpur petrol pump in Phaphamau, one Anand Kumar Gupta met with an accident which resulted in his death.

3. In the petition, it was said that Anand Kumar Gupta was coming on a motor cycle from Tharwai on his way back to Allahabad. He was coming on the road from east to west. Truck No. UTB 2025 was crossing the road on its way from Burmah Shell Petrol Pump towards the north to Jaunpur petrol pump towards the south of the road. Due to the rash and negligent driving of the truck, Anand Kumar Gupta was run over by the truck and he died. A sum of Rs. 1,00,000 was claimed as compensation.

4. Opposite party No. 1 contested the petition with the allegation that the accident took place due to the rash and negligent driving of the motor cycle by Anand Kumar Gupta and not due to the rash and negligent driving of the truck. Opposite party No. 1 was himself driving the truck on his way back from Sahson side. On reaching the octroi barrier, he slowed the truck. He wanted to take diesel from the petrol pump towards the south of the road. He turned the truck towards the left and was thinking of parking it so as to enable him to take diesel. In the meantime, he heard a loud bang on the road side of the truck. He saw two persons lying on the ground and the motor cycle also lying in a running condition. The compensation claimed was assailed as excessive. Opposite party No. 2 also contested the petition on similar pleas.

5. P.W.-1, Ram Chandra Shukla, P.W.-2, Smt. Ram Mani Gupta, P.W.-3, Faujdar Singh, P.W.-4, Sri Prakash Misra and P.W.-5, Jagannath Prasad, were examined by the claimants. The claimants also placed reliance on the copies of the First Information Report lodged by Sri Prakash Misra at P. S. Soraon, the site plan, the inspection report regarding the damage caused to the truck and the motor cycle and the post-mortem report.

6. D.W.-1, Mohd. Ahmad Ansari, D.W.-2, Ram Prasad and D.W.-3, Mohd. Ibrahim, were examined by the opposite parties.

7. The Tribunal disbelieved the claimants' version that the accident took place due to the rash and negligent driving of the truck and, consequently, dismissed the petition with costs on parties.

8. Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the Tribunal erred in disbelieving the claimants' version regarding the accident. He pointed out that the Tribunal also disbelieves the evidence of D.W.-2, Ram Prasad, and D.W.-3, Mohd. Ibrahim, examined by the opposite parties, and his grievance was that the Tribunal believed a part of each version. The Tribunal was of the opinion that the truck was crossing the road from north to south and at that time the deceased met with the accident clue to rash and negligent driving of the motor cycle. It was said that the reasons given by the Tribunal for discarding the evidence of P.W.-4, Sri Prakash Misra, are wholly inadequate and it should have accepted the claimants' version regarding the negligence of the truck driver. He contended that the site plan was collusively prepared by the investigating officer in order to benefit the driver of the truck so that the criminal case could end in acquittal.

9. Learned counsel for the respondents submitted that there was no justification for the Tribunal to have disbelieved the evidence adduced by the opposite parties. He contended that, as a matter of fact, that was the only way in which the accident could have taken place. He also criticised the Tribunal for evolving a third theory which does not find support from the evidence on record. His contention, however, was that the Tribunal should have accepted the version of the opposite parties regarding the accident.

10. We have carefully considered the submissions made before us. The accident took place on February 2, 1977, at 3.30 p.m. There is no evidence to show as to when the report was lodged by Sri Prakash Misra at P, S. Soraon. Unless it could be shown that it was a prompt report, the Tribunal could hardly be justified in observing that there could be no reason for a false mention in the report that the truck was crossing the road. The statement of PW-4, Prakash Misra, shows that the distance between the two petrol pumps is hardly 40 or 50 yards. We agree with the Tribunal that the statement of this witness is wholly unreliable. We consider it improbable that the truck should have picked up a speed of 60 to 65 kms. per hour while crossing the road from the petrol pump on the north of the road to the petrol pump on the south of the road. If the witness is to be believed, Anand Kumar Gupta came under the wheels of the truck, The post-mortem report does not show that the deceased had any such injury which could be caused by coming under the wheels of a truck. The post-mortem report shows that the deceased had thirteen abraded contusions and lacerated wound. The lacerated wound was only 1/2' above the right eyebrow. The skull was found to be fractured and compressed from four sides. Temporal and perietal bones were fractured. It was only the brain which was crushed and was coming out of the fractured portion. The numerous abraded contusions show that the deceased was thrown from the motor cycle and he took a number of turns when he fell on the ground. The head injury could have been caused by the severe impact of the head when it first of all came into contract with the ground. We are unable to agree with the learned counsel for the appellants that the nature of the injuries indicates that the accident could have been caused by the deceased coming under the wheels of the truck.

11. The Tribunal did not consider the version of DW-2, Ram Prasad, and DW-3, Mohd. Ibrahim, in detail. It was rejected by a cryptic observation that the same is not convincing. The Tribunal took pains to record reasons for disbelieving the claimants' version but did not do so while considering the version of the opposite parties.

12. DW-2, Ram Prasad, is a tonga driver and he was taking the tonga to Sandila. He had stopped near the petrol pump. It was then that he saw the accident. He saw a truck coming from Varanasi side turning towards the left on reaching near Jaunpur petrol station. A motor cycle was coming from the same side. A bus came from Allahabad side. The motor cyclist all of a sudden came in front of the bus and he turned his motor cycle towards the left and dashed against the left side of the truck. The deceased and his companion were thrown inside the petrol pump. The deceased received severe injuries. He (DW-2) denied that the accident took place when the truck was going from the petrol pump towards north to the petrol pump towards south.

13. DW-3, Mohd. Ibrahim, is the owner of the truck and he was himself driving it at the time of the accident. He was coming from Sahson side. There is an octroi barrier near Phaphamau. He stopped the truck there. After going about 100 paces, he turned the truck towards the left for going to the petrol pump. The truck was moving at a speed of 5 to 7 kms. He found another truck parked by the side of the pump for taking diesel.

14. He stopped his truck. He was waiting for his turn. It was then that a motor cycle came from behind and dashed against the left side of the truck. He saw two persons and a motor cycle lying at some distance. He denied that Anand Kumar Gupta came under the wheel of the truck and got injured. A perusal of the site plan shows that the truck was coming on the road from east to west. It took a turn towards the left for taking diesel from Jaunpur petrol pump. 'A' is the place where the motor cycle is said to have dashed against the truck. ' B ' is the place where the truck was found standing. ' C ' is the place where the dead body was found. ' D ' is the place where the motor cycle was found, while ' A ' is on the left side patri of the road from east to west, B, C and D are in the premises of the petrol pump.

15. Had the accident taken place in the manner alleged by the claimants and had the deceased come under the wheel of the truck, the dead body would have been found on the road itself. The manner in which the body was thrown inside the petrol pump premises and the motor cycle being also found lying there clearly shows that it is more probable that the accident could have taken place in the manner alleged by the respondents.

16. The claimants themselves filed a copy of the site plan that the truck had stopped about 100 yards earlier at the octroi barrier and it is highly probable that the truck should have been moving at a reasonable speed as it had to take diesel from Jaunpur petrol pump. There could be no question of the truck being driven in a rash and negligent manner. It is highly probable that the deceased was driving the motor cycle at a high speed and when he found himself in front of a roadways bus, he took a sudden turn towards the left and dashed against the truck.

17. Kashi Nath, the brother of the deceased, was sitting at the pillion atthe time of accident. It is rather strange that the best witness was notproduced by the claimants. An adverse inference can be raised againstthe claimant's version.

18. There is no substance in the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that DW-2, Ram Prasad, is not a reliable witness. Subedarganj may be 10 miles away from Phaphamau, but he was not taking the passengers from Subedarganj, He stated that the tonga stand is in Chowk and he was taking the passengers to Sandila. He was not asked as to oft which side is Sandila and there is nothing to show that he could not have reached the place of accident on his way to Sandila. The mere fact that he knew Ibrahim for the last 5 years and that the susral of Ibrahim is 3 or 4 furlongs from his house, do not make him a partisan witness. Hr has substantially corroborated the version of DW-3, Mohammad Ibrahim, and there is no sufficient reason why the same should not be believed.

19. We accept the submission of learned counsel for the respondents and hold that their version regarding the accident is more probable and believable. The Tribunal rightly rejected the appellants' version and rightly held that the accident took place due to rash and negligent driving of the motor cycle and not due to rash and negligent driving of the truck.

20. The appellants were permitted to amend the memo of appeal and add a paragraph that they are entitled to Rs. 15,000 under Section 92A of Chapter VIIA of the Motor Vehicles Act. Section 92A has been introduced by the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1982 (Act No. 47 of 1982). It received the President's assent on March 31, 1982, and was published in the Gazette on September 1, 1982. It came into force on October 1, 1982. The accident took place on February 2, 1977. The petition was decided on April 25, 1979. The question arises as to whether the appellants are entitled to the benefit of this provision.

21. Section 92A provides as below.

' 92A. Liability to pay compensation in certain cases on the principle of no fault.--(1) Where the death or permanent disablement of any person has resulted from an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle or motor vehicles, the owner of the vehicle shall, or, as the case may be, the owners of the vehicle shall, jointly and severally be liable to pay compensation in respect of such death or disablement in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(2) The amount of compensation which shall be payable under subsection (1) in respect of the death of any person shall be a fixed sum of fifteen thousand rupees and the amount of compensation payable under that sub-section in respect of the permanent disablement of any person shall be a fixed sum of seven thousand five hundred rupees.

(3) In any claim for compensation under Sub-section (1), the claimant shall not be required to plead and establish that the death or permanent disablement in respect of which the claim has been made was due to any wrongful act, neglect or default of the owner or owners of the vehicle or vehicles concerned or of any other person.

(4) A claim for compensation under Sub-section (1) shall not be defected by reason of any wrongful act, neglect or default of the person in respect of whose death or permanent disablement the claim has been made nor shall the quantum of compensation recoverable in respect of such death or permanent disablement be reduced on the basis of the share of such person in the responsibility for such death or permanent disablement.'

22. In paragraph 17 of Punjab Tin Supply Co. v. Central Government, AIR 1984 SC 87, at pages 93-94 it was held:

' All laws which affect substantive rights generally operate prospectively and there is a presumption against their retrospectivity if they affect vested rights and obligations unless the legislative intent is clear and compulsive, such retrospective effect may be given where there are express words giving retrospective effect or where the language used necessarily implies that such retrospective operation is intended.'

23. Ramesh Chandra v. Randhir Singh, AIR 1977 All 330, is not an authority on the point in issue.

24. In Sree Bank Ltd. v. Sarcar Dutt Roy and Co. [1965] 35 Comp Cas 881 (SC), the question before the Supreme Court was as to whether Section 45-O of the Companies Act was retrospective. At page 884, their Lordships referred to the general rules as laid down In re Athulmney [1898] 2 QB 547 at pages 551-552:

'Perhaps no rule of construction is more firmly established than this--that a retrospective operation is not to be given to a statute so as to impair an existing right or obligation, otherwise than as regards matter of procedure, unless that effect cannot be avoided without doing violence to the language of the enactment. If the enactment is expressed in language which is fairly capable of either interpretation, it ought to be construed as prospective only.'

25. After referring to the above principle with approval, their Lordships referred to Pardo v. Bingham [1870] LR 4 Ch App 735, at page 740 and Craies on Statute Law, 6th edition, at page 395, where it was observed :

' If a statute is passed for the purpose of protecting the public against some evil or abuse, it may be allowed to operate retrospectively, although by such operation it will deprive some person or persons of a vested right.'

26. They referred to the background in which the section was introduced and gave it retrospective operation.

27. Section 2 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1982, provides :

It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act.'

28. Section 92A has not been introduced for the purpose of protecting the public from any evil or abuse. Under the law of torts, the liability to pay compensation for death arises when the defendant is negligent. There is no liability if death is caused due to the negligence of the deceased. Under the law, as it stood on the date of accident, the respondents were not liable as the accident took place due to the rash and negligent driving of the motor cycle by the deceased.

29. Section 92A introduces a new principle of liability, and makes the defendant 'liable to pay Rs. 15,000 even if there is no negligence of the defendant and also in cases where the accident took place due to the negligence of the deceased. The section itself came into operation on October 1, 1982, There is no express provision that it will operate retrospectively. The language also does not imply that retrospective effect is intended. It is not a case where the legislative intent is clear and compulsive. We are of the opinion that Section 92A is prospective and it cannot be given effect to retrospectively. The appellants are not entitled to the benefit of this provision.

30. There is no force in the appeal and the same is dismissed. We make no order as to costs.


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