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Ram Saroop Bajpai and ors. Vs. Arjun Das Parmanand and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.F.O. No. 439 of 1977
Judge
Reported inAIR1985All110
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110B
AppellantRam Saroop Bajpai and ors.
RespondentArjun Das Parmanand and anr.
Appellant AdvocateA.L. Jaiswal, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateA.K. Srivastava and ;B.R. Tripathi, Advs.
DispositionPetition partly allowed
Excerpt:
.....the reach of the monetary tape measure. 16. we have gone through the entire evidence on the record, and having regard to the status of the family in which the boy was born, the age of the boy as well as the ages of his parents and considering the uncertainty of human life, we are of the view that the amount awarded as compensation by the claims tribunal was much too low and inadequate. loss of a child, particularly a male child, is a stunning blow to poor parents. we would have liked to enhance the compensation awarded, substantially, but we feel that interests of justice would be served if the sum awarded is increased to rs......basha v. pushpawathi) wherein the death of a child aged about 10 years had occurred and the motor accident tribunal had awarded a sum of rs. 17,090/- on appeal, the claim was reduced to rs. 7000/- only. following the ratio of the aforesaid case, the tribunal has awarded a sum of rs. 7000/- as a proper compensation after considering all the aspects of the case viz., age of the boy as well as the status of the claimants.12. the question of quantum of compensation raised before us has vexed many courts in india and england and has provoked some judges to embark upon metaphysical investigation into the value of human life and ultimately to exclaim that the answer to the question is far from simple. some of the judges have said that quantum of compensation depends upon the strong common.....
Judgment:

1. This appeal under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 has been directed against the judgment and order dated 3-5-1977 passed by the Motor Accident Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as Tribunal) awarding Rs. 7000/- to the appellants as compensation for the death of their son namely Annu, aged about 6 years, who was run over on 28-10-1974 by a truck owned by respondent No. 1 M/s. Arjun Das Parmanand.

2. The brief facts of the case are that on 28-10-1974 at about 4.30 p.m., Annu -- son of the appellants was going on Hamirpur road in the city of Ranpur on left side kacehi patri when suddenly truck No. UPD 8865 crushed him to death. This truck was rashly and negligently driven as a consequence of which Annu died on the spot. First Information Report was lodged at the police station Juhi, Kanpur by Rameshwar Parsad (P. W. 2), who had seen the boy being crushed. Post mortem examination was conducted by the Chief Medical Officer who found 4 injuries on his body. The cause of death noted down by the doctor in the post mortem report was shock and haemorrhage as a result of injuries to brain.

3. The parents-appellants preferred a claim petition before the Tribunal They claimed Rs. 500/- for the expenses incurred in the funeral rites, Rs. 8000/- for up-bringing the deceased, Rs. 500/- for mental sh'oek and physical pain, Rs. 1000/- for filial affection and Rs. 20,000/- for normal expectation of life. Their claim was contested by both the respondents on several grounds. Respondent No. 1 M/s. Arjun Das Parmanand admitted that he is the registered owner of truck No. U. P. D. 8865. He disclosed the name of the insurer as M/s. New India Assurance Company Ltd., Kanpur. Regarding facts of the accident alleged by the claimants, the respondent No. 1 has showed his ignorance and put the claimants to strict proof. On the quantum of compensation, it has been claimed by the respondent No. 1 that it was exorbitant and in any case, it was the responsibility of the insurer. A written statement was also filed by the New India Assurance Company Ltd. Kanpur-respondent No. 2 alleging that it had no knowledge of the accident. They were not informed of the injuries sustained by the deceased. It also denied that truck No. U. P. D. 8865 was involved in any accident. It was also alleged that the Company was not liable for any compensation. No other plea was raised.

4. On the pleadings of the parties, following issues were framed by the Tribunal: --

1. Whether the accident in question took place from the vehicle UPD 8865 as alleged?

2. Whether the O. P. in any way liable to compensate for the death on account of the alleged accident?

3. To what amount of damages are the petitioners entitled? and

4. Is the O. P. not liable to pay damages as the vehicle was insured?

5. The claimant-appellant No. 1 himself has appeared as P. W. 1 and in support of his claim, he has produced another witness-Rameshwar Prasad as P. W. 2. None of the respondents has adduced any evidence in support of their case.

6. After considering the entire evidence on record, the Tribunal found that the boy was crused to death by the aforesaid truck due to negligent and careless driving, Consequently, the owner of the vehicle would be vicariously liable for the same. Admittedly, the vehicle involved in the accident was insured with the New India Assurance Co., Ltd. The Tribunal held that both the opposite parties were liable to the amount of compensation payable for the death due to accident as per the Insurance Policy. The claim was however decreed only to the extent of Rs. 7000/- with costs and simple interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of the petition to the date of recovery.

7. The present appeal before us is for the enhancement of the aforesaid compensation awarded by the Tribunal. Appellant No. 1 --Ram Swaroop Bajpai, aged about 35 years is the father and appellant No. 2 - Smt. Rameshwari Devi aged about 30 years is the mother of the deceased Annu.

8. The respondents have not filed any appeal against the award of the Tribunal. Thus the findings recorded by the Tribunal in respect of issues Nos. 1, 2 and 4 have become final between the parties as they have not been challenged before us.

9. The learned counsel for the appellants vehemently urged that the quantum of compensation is very meagre and inadequate. He cited several authorties in support of his contention.

10. So far as the quantum of compensation is concerned, the appellants have claimed a total sum of Rs. 30,000/- on various heads detailed in para 22 of their claim petition and para 3 above.

11. In support of the aforesaid claim, Ram Swaroop, P. W. 1 (Claimant) has stated that his father died at the age of 65 to 68 years. Had his son survived he would have given him Rs, 20,000/- of his earnings. The Tribunal has held that, it is mere guess work and in order to determine quantum of damages, the status of the appellants has to be taken into consideration. The appellant No. 1 has stated that he does sewing business. The deceased child was a student of Class II in the Mahapalika School. The learned counsel for the opposite parties referred before the Tribunal to 1975 Acc CJ 237 (Hayath Basha v. Pushpawathi) wherein the death of a child aged about 10 years had occurred and the Motor Accident Tribunal had awarded a sum of Rs. 17,090/- On appeal, the claim was reduced to RS. 7000/- only. Following the ratio of the aforesaid case, the Tribunal has awarded a sum of Rs. 7000/- as a proper compensation after considering all the aspects of the case viz., age of the boy as well as the status of the claimants.

12. The question of quantum of compensation raised before us has vexed many Courts in India and England and has provoked some Judges to embark upon metaphysical investigation into the value of human life and ultimately to exclaim that the answer to the question is far from simple. Some of the Judges have said that quantum of compensation depends upon the strong common sense of Judges, who decide the cases. In Benharn v. Gambling 1941 AC 157, Viscount Simon, L.C. has observed as under :

'Such a problem might seem more suitable for discussion in an essay on Aristotelian ethics than in the judgment of a Court of Law, hut in view of the earlier authorities, we must do our best to contribute to its solution, The noble Lord disagreed with the view that human life is on the whole good and preferred to award damages in respect of the shortened life of a given individual on the basis of length of life that was lost. This view is in ill accord with Indian thought, which' regards human life as precious, as much for the joy it brings as for the sufferings it inflicts. Whichever view is sound, the difficulty of measuring its worth in terms of money is real. There are some aspects of human life, which, are susceptible of monetary measurement, but the totality of human life is, like the beauty of the sunrise or the splendour of the stars, beyond the reach of the monetary tape measure.' In India, while considering Sections 1-A and 2 of the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, in a case relating to death of a boy about 8 years involved in an accident, Mr. Justice J. C. Shah and Mr. Justice K.C. Hegde in C. K. S. Iyer v. T. K. Nair, 1970 Acc CJ 110 : (AIR 1970 SC 376) observed as follows : --

'Compulsory damages under Section 1-A of theAct for wrongful death must be limited strictlyto the pecuniary loss to the beneficiaries andthat under Section 2, the measure of damages is theeconomic loss sustained by the estate. Therecan be no exact uniform rule for measuringthe value of the human life and the measure ofdamages cannot be arrived at by precisemathematical calculations but the amountrecoverable depends on the particular factsand circumstances of each case. The lifeexpectancy of the deceased or of thebeneficiaries whichever is shorter is animportant factor, Since the elements whichgo to make up the value of the life of thedeceased to the designated beneficaries arenecessarily personal to each case, in the verynature of things, there can be no exact oruniform rule for measuring the value of humanlife. In assessing damages, the Court mustexclude all considerations of matter whichrest in speculation or fancy though conjectureto some extent is inevitable. As a general ruleparents are entitled to recover the presentcash value of the prospective service of thedeceased minor child In addition they mayreceive compensation for loss of pecuniarybenefits reasonably to be expected after thechild attains majority.'

It is true that the appellate Court is slow to interfere with the quantum of compensation awarded by the Trial Court, unless it shocks the conscience of the appellate Court. The compensation awarded by the Claims Tribunal, in our opinion, is much too low and inadequate and it appears to have been arrived at without taking into consideration-the relevant facts and the present purchasing power of money.

13. In the case of M. A. Rahim v. Sayari Bai, AIR 1973 Mad 83, the Division Bench was considering if the award of Rs. 25,000/- as compensation for the death of a boy aged 12 years was just and proper in the circumstances of the case. The deceased was the only son of the claimant-respondent. The Court considered the provisions of Section 110 to 110-F and the requirement of law 'to make an award determining 'the amount of compensation which appears to it to be just' and especially ' the term 'just'. According to the Court 'just' connotes reasonableness and something conforming to rectitude and justice, something equitable and fair. The Court observed that the concept of 'just' differed from age to age and from person to person and the word just has been used in a very wide and comprehensive sense. Reference was made to the decision of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the cases of Gobald Motor Service v. Velusami (AIR 1962 SC1) and C. K. S. Iyer v. T. K. Nair, AIR 1970 SC 376, both the decisions were under Fatal Accidents Act but certain observations therein would also apply to the principles for determining just compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act also. One observation was : 'As a general rule parents are entitled to recover the present cash value of the prospective service of the deceased minor child. In addition they may receive compensation for loss of pecuniary benefits reasonably to be expected after the child attains majority.'

14. In the case of the Vanguard Insurance Co., Ltd. v. Padma 1973 Acc CJ 454, the Madras High Court enhanced the compensation from Rs. 6000/- to Rs. 10,000/-in the case of a child aged 14 years.

15. In the case of Rashid Husain v. Union of India 1984 AH WC 566 : (1984 All LJ 979) the Division Bench enhanced the compensation awarded from Rs. 12800/- to Rs. 20,000 on the case of the death of a child aged 5 years. The Court laid down the criteria for compensation as normal expectancy of life of the deceased and the mental shock suffered by the parents, on account of the loss of their child. In this case, the deceased was a child of a Clerk in Government service and was earning about Rs. 480/- per month. Their Lordships observed that had he lived, would have earned and made contribution to his parents, which was estimated at Rs. 150/-per month. The Court awarded Rs. 15,000/-under the first-head and Rs. 5000/- as compensation for mental shock.

16. We have gone through the entire evidence on the record, and having regard to the status of the family in which the boy was born, the age of the boy as well as the ages of his parents and considering the uncertainty of human life, we are of the view that the amount awarded as compensation by the Claims Tribunal was much too low and inadequate. The deceased was aged 6 years when he died in the accident. His parents were aged about 35 and 30 years respectively. They would expect to live for another 30 years. The boy, had he lived, would have earned and supported his parents for at least 15 or more years. The quantum of support would depend on what he earned, but considering the social conditions prevailing, one could reasonably expect the boy to support his parents in their old age. The father, of the deceased, Claimant, expected such support would be about Rs. 20,000. This would, undoubtedly, be in the realm of guess work, but even a support of Rs. 1007- per month for 15 years would be near that sum. A second aspect of the matter is the shock and suffering that ensued after the accident. Loss of a child, particularly a male child, is a stunning blow to poor parents. Their hopes, their expectations and above all the absence of his company becomes unbearable for them. Of course there is no measure for adjudging the money value for the same but Courts have awarded sums of money, taking into consideration various aspects to assuage the wound caused by the loss due to such accidents. A sum of Rs. 7,000/-in all in the circumstances of the present case is in our opinion not only inadequate but errs on the side of ignoring the present purchasing power of money. We would have liked to enhance the compensation awarded, substantially, but we feel that interests of justice would be served if the sum awarded is increased to Rs. 10,000/-. It would be a lumpsum payment, which the parents would probably never get in their lives and even when the child grew up earned and supported the parents if would he many years. The sum of Rs. 10,000/- if properly invested, would get them at least a hundred rupees per month from now onwards. This may not amount to be a solace but would certainly be a support which the parents expected from their child when he grew up. Therefore, having regard to all relevant facts and circumstances, we think it proper to enhance the compensation awarded from Rs. 7000/- to Rs. 10,000/- with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of the petition till the date of payment.

17. In the result, the appeal is partly allowed. The award of the Tribunal is modified and the sum awarded by the Tribunal is enhanced by a further sum of Rs, 3000/- so that the total amount of compensation is Rs. 10,000/- with interest at 6% per annum from the date of the petition till the date of recovery, with costs.


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