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National Insurance Co. Vs. Dulari Devi and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFAFO No. 57 of 1978
Judge
Reported in[1987]61CompCas116(All)
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110D
AppellantNational Insurance Co.
RespondentDulari Devi and anr.
DispositionAppeal partly allowed
Excerpt:
- - 25,000 to the claimants-respondents as damages against the appellant as well as the owner and driver of the vehicle which was involved in the accident which resulted in the death of the husband of smt. this was clearly wrong. under the circumstances, it would be perfectly permissible to treat the average salary of the deceased at rs. the parties shall be entitled to their costs in proportion to their successor failure in this appeal......the time of the accident. the age of retirement of class iv employees in the water works being 60 years, the tribunal rightly concluded that the claimants were deprived of the contribution which the employer would have made towards the provident fund account of the deceased for the remaining 15 years of his service. the tribunal, however, erred in calculating the amount under this head. if we take the monthly salary of the deceased at rs. 325, as asserted by the widow, the provident fund contribution of the employer works out to rs. 3,600 under the u. p. palika (centralised) services rules, 1966, the employer's contribution being 6 1/4 per cent, of the salary of the employee.7. the tribunal has, however, awarded rs. 7,000 presumably taking into account even the amount which the deceased.....
Judgment:

A.N. Varma, J.

1. This is an insurer's appeal under Sections 110D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. It is directed against an award given by the First Addl. Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Mathura, awarding a sum of Rs. 25,000 to the claimants-respondents as damages against the appellant as well as the owner and driver of the vehicle which was involved in the accident which resulted in the death of the husband of Smt. Dulari Devi.

2. The relevant facts are that Laxmi Narain, the husband of respondent No. ,1, was working as tank attendant in the water works at Mathura. On May 23, 1974, the deceased was going on a bicycle from his house towards Bharatpur Gate side. Near Ghia Mandi, he came under the wheels of Truck No. USE 4223 owned by Ved Pal, respondent No. 3, and being driven by Chhote Lal, the driver of the truck, and was crushed to death. The truck was laden with goods and was stated to be going on the wrong side of the road and at considerable speed. A claim was thereupon lodged by respondents Nos. 1 and 2, who are respectively the widow and the daughter of Laxmi Narain. They claimed a sum of Rs. 40,000 as damages. The claim was contested only by the appellant and not by the owner or the driver of the truck. The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal has found that the deceased died due to the negligence of Chhote Lal, the driver of the truck, and assessed the damages payable to the claimant-respondents at Rs. 25,000 made up of Rs. 12,000 on account of the loss of contribution which the deceased would have made to the family for the remaining 15 years of his service, the deceased being about 45 years at the time of the accident and the age of retirement being 60 years, and Rs. 7,000 as loss of employer's contribution to the provident fund account of the deceased.

3. For the insurance company, learned counsel submitted that the Tribunal has committed two mistakes : (1) it wrongly allowed the insurance company to be impleaded in the claim petition after the expiry of one year, and (2) the Tribunal has wrongly assessed the damages claimed by the respondents at Rs. 25,000.

4. I shall take up the two points submitted in support of this appeal one by one. In so far as the first submission is concerned, the position is that the claimants filed an application for impleading the insurance company after the filing of the petition on the ground that they were ladies and they did not know that the truck in question was insured with an insurance company. They did make inquiries to find out whether the truck was insured or not before filing the petition but without any result. It was only on March 22, 1975, that they came to know from the learned counsel for the insurance company that the truck was insured with theappellant having its office at Bareilly. On that very day, they moved the application for impleading the insurance company. Subsequently, they were informed that the head office of the company is in Calcutta and they applied for correction in the claim petition and the same was allowed.

5. In my opinion, the Tribunal has rightly condoned the delay and impleaded the appellant subsequently. The assertion of the claimants that they did not know that the truck in question was insured with the appellant is not unbelievable having regard to the background of the claimants. The deceased was a class IV employee of the water works and the claimants are ignorant ladies. That being so, I find no error in the Tribunal's impleading the appellant at the stage at which it did.

6. Coming to the question of damages, the finding of the Tribunal that the claimants were entitled to a sum of Rs. 7,000 as the amount which the employee would have contributed towards the provident fund account of the deceased certainly appears to be erroneous. The finding of the Tribunal that the deceased had another 15 years of service left is correct and is fully supported by the evidence on record. Respondent No. 1 stated before the Tribunal that her husband was about 44 years of age at the time of the accident. The age of retirement of class IV employees in the water works being 60 years, the Tribunal rightly concluded that the claimants were deprived of the contribution which the employer would have made towards the provident fund account of the deceased for the remaining 15 years of his service. The Tribunal, however, erred in calculating the amount under this head. If we take the monthly salary of the deceased at Rs. 325, as asserted by the widow, the provident fund contribution of the employer works out to Rs. 3,600 under the U. P. Palika (Centralised) Services Rules, 1966, the employer's contribution being 6 1/4 per cent, of the salary of the employee.

7. The Tribunal has, however, awarded Rs. 7,000 presumably taking into account even the amount which the deceased would have contributed towards his provident fund for 15 years. This was clearly wrong. The claimants could not be held entitled to receive any amount by way of damages on account of the contribution which would have been made by the deceased.

8. Learned counsel for the appellant, however, submitted that damages on account of the loss of the employer's contribution to the provident fund should also have been calculated at the salary of the deceased, namely, Rs. 250 and not at Rs. 325, which was stated to be the salary of the deceased by the widow of the deceased in her statement on oath before the Tribunal.

9. I am unable to agree. In the first place, Rs. 250 was not the salary of the deceased. It was only the carry home monthly income of the deceased, his total salary being Rs. 325. Further, his salary would have in the normal course been increased. Under the circumstances, it would be perfectly permissible to treat the average salary of the deceased at Rs. 325 p.m. for the purpose of calculating the loss of contribution which would have been made by the employer.

10. The result of the aforesaid discussion, therefore, is that on account of the loss of the employer's contribution to which the deceased or the claimants would have become entitled, the latter could be awarded only Rs. 3,500 and not Rs. 7,000.

11. As regards the amount of Rs. 18,000 awarded by the Tribunal on account of loss of the contribution which the deceased would have made to his family for the remaining 15 years of his service, I see nothing wrong with the same. On the evidence on record, which was one way only, the Tribunal rightly calculated the average contribution of the deceased at the rate of Rs. 100 per month.

12. In the result, the appeal succeeds in part and is allowed. The damages awarded to the claimant-respondents is reduced from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 21,600. The award given by the Tribunal is accordingly modified. The parties shall be entitled to their costs in proportion to their successor failure in this appeal.


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