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Naresh Kumar Sawhney Vs. New Jai Bharat Transport - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1984)ACC193
AppellantNaresh Kumar Sawhney
RespondentNew Jai Bharat Transport
Cases ReferredIn Khairati v. Kalicharan Tewari
Excerpt:
.....to avert the accident. we find that in this case the driver has failed to give any explanation as to why the bus moved from the metalled portion of the road to the kachchi patri of the left side even when there was sufficient space on the right side of the road. there was no other traffic on the road and the accident could have been averted if the driver had acted like a reasonable or prudent person. he had very good proposals for the marriage of the applicant prior to the accident. she could not walk, sit or move about like a normal person. he cannot walk, sit or move about like a normal person......appeal under section 110-d of the motor vehicles act against the award dated 1.2.1977 made by the motor accident claims tribunal, rampur (i additional district judge, rampur) dismissing an application for compensation with costs on parties.2. the facts giving-rise to this appeal are that on 5.11.1972 at 1.30 p.m. one naresh kumar sawhney, a student of law previous aged about 20 years met with an accident. the accident took place on the thandi sarak connecting gandhi samadhi with benazir road. gandhi samadhi falls on the way to civil lines, rampur. the applicant is a resident of civil lines. he was returning from the corporation cinema on his way back home. he was sitting on pillion of motor cycle no. u.s.i. 2609 driven by his friend vijai jolly. bus no. d.l.p. 4387, belonging to.....
Judgment:

O.P. Saxena, J.

1. This is an appeal under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act against the award dated 1.2.1977 made by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Rampur (I Additional District Judge, Rampur) dismissing an application for compensation with costs on parties.

2. The facts giving-rise to this appeal are that on 5.11.1972 at 1.30 P.M. one Naresh Kumar Sawhney, a student of law previous aged about 20 years met with an accident. The accident took place on the Thandi Sarak connecting Gandhi Samadhi with Benazir Road. Gandhi Samadhi falls on the way to Civil Lines, Rampur. The applicant is a resident of Civil Lines. He was returning from the Corporation Cinema on his way back home. He was sitting on pillion of motor cycle No. U.S.I. 2609 driven by his friend Vijai Jolly. Bus No. D.L.P. 4387, belonging to opposite party No. 1, insured with opposite party No. 2 and driven by opposite party No. 3 Shanker, came from the opposite direction and dashed against the moror cycle. The motor-cycle fell in a Nali on the right side of the road, The applicant received severe injuries. On 20.12.74 the applicant filed a petition claiming Rs. 1,50,000/- as compensation. He also gave an application for condoning the delay in filing the petition. The application was allowed on 1.3.75. It was said that the accident took place due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus by opposite party No. 3. the details of compensation were given in an application on paper No. 39 kha filed subsequently.

3. The petition was contested by opposite party No. 1 with the allegation that the accident took place not due to the negligence of the opposite party No. 3 but due to the negligence of the driver of the motor-cycle who became nervous on seeing the bus coming and instead of moving towards the left side of the road, took a turn towards the right side. It was on account of this that the motor-cycle dashed against the bus and fell in the Nali on the right hand side. The applicant received injuries as a result thereof. It was denied that the bus was being driven rashly and negligently. The amount of compensation claimed was challenged.

4. Opposite parties Nos. 2 and 3 did not contest the petition.

5. The Tribunal did not accept the applicant's version regarding the manner in which the accident took place and held that the accident took place on account of the motor-cycle having been turned towards the right and not towards the left. On the question of compensation, the Tribunal assessed the same at Rs. 26,000/-. However, in view of the finding on the main point it dismissed the petition. Hence this appeal.

6. Smt. Ramo Devi Gupta learned Counsel for the appellant submitted that the Tribunal has not taken in to consideration the proved facts and the principles of Res ipsa loquitur in recording its findings regarding the manner in which the accident took place. Sri A.K. Saxena, learned Counsel or respondent No. 1 supported the findings and contended that the appellant miserably failed to prove his case.

7. P.W. 1 Naresh Kumar Sawhney (applicant), P.W. 2 Vijai Jolly and P.W. 3 Ramesh Khandelwal were examined in support of the applicant's version regarding the accident. The evidence shows that the applicant and Vijai Jolly were returning from Corporation Cinema on their way back home. They were coming on the Thandi Sarak connecting Benazir Road with Gandhi Samadhi, which lies on the way to Civil Lines. The applicant was sitting on the pillion of motor cycle driven by Vijai Jolly. Just before the accident, they wanted to make water. On the left side of the road, there were some women working in the fields. They moved to the right side of the road. Just when the motor cycle reached the patri on right side of the road and before they could get down, the bus driven by opposite party No. 3 Shanker came from the opposite direction and dashed against the motor cycle. The motor cycle fell in the Nali and was damaged. The applicant was severely injured.

8. D.W. 1 Shanker (opposite party No. 3 driver) was examined in rebuttal.

9. The controversy between the parties is as to whether the accident took by place due to rash and negligent driving of the bus or due to the negligence of the driver of the motor cycle who became perplexed on seeing the bus and all of a sudden swereved the motor cycle towards the right resulting in the accident.

10. P.W. 2 Vijay Jolly stated that at about-50 or 100 yards from the place of accident there is blind curve. There is clear visibility on the road up to 50 or 100 yards at least. According to P.W. 3 Ramesh Khandelwal, there is clear visibility on the road up to 40 or 50 yards. He and Mahendra Gupta were coming on a motor cycle about 100 yards behind on their way back from Corporation Cinema. He reached the place of accident by the time it took place: He was also returning from Corporation Cinema.

11. P. W. 2 Vijay Jolly stated that he saw the bus at about 50 or 60 yards coming at a fast speed. He gave the speed as 50 Kms. P.W. 1 Naresh Kumar Sawhney gave the speed as 60 or 70 Kms.

12. P.W. 1 Naresh Kumar Sawhney stated that the kachchi patri on the right side at the place of accident is about 6' or 7' wide. P.W. 2 Vijay Jolly gave the width as about 5'.

13. P.W. 2 Vijay Jolly stated that the motor cycle stood at about one feet and a half away from the metalled portion of the road at the time of accident. P.W. 3 Ramesh Khandelwal also made a similar statement.

14. The statement of D.W. 1, Shanker, the driver of the bus also shows that at the time of the accident the motor-cycle was on the Kachchi Patri of the right side. He did not state that the place of the accident was not visible to him before he reached there. He stated that he could not tell as to from what distance the place of the accident was visible or what was the visibility at the time of the accident. He admitted that there was no other traffic on the road and there was space towards the right side of the place of accident.

15. D.W. 1 Shanker claimed to have gone to P.S. Kotwali after getting the injured admitted in the Emergency Ward of the District Hospital. The medical examination report paper No. 17 Gs shows that bus driver brought the injured. But disappeared after leaving the injured in the Emergency. He was described as 'unknown'. He did not file the copy of the report lodged by him at the police station. It is not known as to what was the version given by him at the earliest opportunity.

16. Ex. 10 is the copy of the report lodged by P.W. 4 Virendra Jolly on the basis of the information received from the persons present at the time of the accident including his brother Vijay Jolly and the applicant. The version given in this report corroborates the applicant's version regarding the accident.

17. We have given our careful consideration to the version of D.W. 1 Shanker regarding the accident having taken place on account of the driver of motor cycle having become perplexed on seeing the bus and having swerved the motor cycle to the right. There was more space towards the left of the road and there was no reason for him to swerve the motor cycle towards the extreme right. We accept the explanation of P.W. 1 Naresh Kumar Sawhney and P.W. 2 Vijai Jolly in this connection. They wanted to make water and as some women were working in the fields on the left side of the road, the motor cycle was taken to the extreme right.

The proved facts of the case are:

1. That the accident took place in broad day light at about 1.30 P.M.

2. That the motor Cycle was standing on the right side patri of the road.

3. That the visibility at the place of the accident was at least upto a distance of 50 yards and the bus driver could have easily seen the mother cycle standing there.

4. That there was no other traffic on the road.

5. That the accident took place on the patri of the road which was on the right side of the motor cycle and left side of the bus.

18. In a case of this nature, it was the duty of the driver to explain as to why he could not prevent the accident. He could have easily swerved the bus towards the right to avoid the accident. In any case he had no reason to go to his extreme left or to move from the metalled portion of the road to the kachchi patri on the left side.

19. On being asked as to why D.W. 1 Shanker could not avoid the accident, he stated 'accident ki jagha par dayeen ko jagha th par fasla kahan rah gaya tha jo main bachata'. This statement gives rise to an inference that the bus was being driven at a fast speed, say between 50 and 60 kms, and it was not being driven at a speed of 30 or 35 kms. as depose to by the witness.

20. The learned Counsel for the respondent placed reliance on two cases. In Minu B. Mehta v. Balkrishna Ram Chandra Nayan 1977 A.C.J. 118, the Supreme Court held that it is incumbent on the claimants to prove negligence before the owner or insurance company could be held liable for compensation. In Mohan Lal Saha v. The State of West Bengal 1968 A.C.J. 124, it was held that the mere statement that the vehicle was running at a high speed does not justify the conclusion of rash and negligent driving. To one man a speed of 10 to 12 miles may appear high, while to another, even 30 miles may appear reasonable.

21. The learned Counsel for the appellant placed reliance on a number of cases.

22. In M/S Concord of India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nirmala Devi and Ors. 1980 A.C.J. 55, the Supreme Court held that mounting highway accidents demand to a new dimension to the law of torts through no fault liability and simplicity in compensation claim cases. It referred to the medieval roads with total disrepair, absence of cautionary signals and reckless dirvers carry with speed and tipsy with spirituous portions.

23. In Devki Devi Tiwari and Ors. v. Raghunath Sahai Chabbrath and Ors. 1978 A.C.J. 169, this Court held that speed is not always the test of negliegence. The test is as to whether the accident could have been averted if the driver had exercised that care which a man of ordinary prudence put in similar circumstances would have done.

24. In Baldevji Bhathiji Thakorev. State of Gujrat 1979 A.C.J. 745, the Supreme Court held that where there was sufficient space on the road and a driver ran over deceased while trying to cross the road without making any attempt to swerve the vehicle and save the deceased, the driver was guilty of rash and negligent driving.

25. In the case of Vinod Kumar v. Urmilla Devi A.I.R. 1983 Allahabad 112 (decided by one of us, K.N. Singh, J.) a taxi driver on clear and wide road with no impediment or traffic dashed against road side tree resulting in death of passenger. It was held that the burden is on the driver to explain reason for accident. In absence of that rash and negligent driving can be presumed.

26. The learned Counsel for the appellant submitted that this is one of those cases in which the principles of Res ipsa loquitur apply.

27. In Mangilal v. Parasram 1970 A.C.J. 86, a boy sitting on a pathway was run over by a bus. The road was 24' wide.

28. In Adamkhan Mohamed v. Ramesh Raya Naik 1978 A.C.J. 409, lorry went of the road on the left side and hit a boy causing serious injuries. Driver was not examined. There was. no explanation by the driver.

29. In Hanuman Dass v. Usha Rani 1978, A.C.J. 310, truck dashed against an electric pole standing on the corner of the terrace in front of the house of Rameshwar Dayal, upon which a girl in order to escape injury had mounted. The girl received serious injuries. There was no explanation by driver.

30. In Assam State Transport Corporation v. Mahadevi Nayak 1982 A.C.J. 83, a bus while negotiating a curve dashed against a cycle. The cyclist fell down and the bus ran over him. He died on the spot. No evidence by opposite parties to rebut negligence.

31. In Amruta Devi v. State of Orissa 1982 A.C.J. 24, a jeep dashed against a tree. The driver and two occupants died. Respondent failed to establish that the accident happened in a manner which did not connote negligence.

32. In all these cases the principle of Res ipsa loquitur was applied and it was held that the driver of the heavier vehicle was negligent.

33. We have carefully considered the submissions made before us. A driver of the motor vehicle is expected to a act like a man of prudence and exercise due care and caution and make every effort to avert the accident. We find that in this case the driver has failed to give any explanation as to why the bus moved from the metalled portion of the road to the kachchi patri of the left side even when there was sufficient space on the right side of the road. There was no other traffic on the road and the accident could have been averted if the driver had acted like a reasonable or prudent person. We are of the opinion that the driver was highly negligent and but for this there could be no question of his having driven the bus to the kachchi patri of the left side and dashed against the motor cycle. The Tribunal erred in not appreciating evidence on the record in a proper prospective and consequently recorded an erroneous finding.

34. Smt. Ramo Devi Gupta also assailed the finding of the Tribunal on the question of compensation and submitted that the compensation of Rs. 26,000/- awarded by the Tribunal is highly inadequate. The learned Counsel for the respondent, however, supported the finding of the Tribunal and submitted that more damages could not be awarded to the applicant.

35. P.W. 1 Naresh Kumar Sawhney and his father P.W. 7 J.L. Sawhney deposed regarding the treatment which the applicant had to undergo after the accident. P.W. 5 Dr. S.U. Khan proved the X'ray reports. P.W. 22 Dr. A.N. Zutshi, formerly Deputy Medical Officer, Aligarh proved the certificate Ex. 9 given by him to the applicant. He also deposed that he had assessed the total disability of the applicant at 35%.

36. The accident took place on 5.11.72 at 1.30 P.M. The applicant was immediately rushed to the District Hospital, Aligarh and his injuries were examined by Dr. M.A. Khan. The injury report paper No. 17 ga shows that the applicant received as many as 7 injuries. Injuries Nos. 1 and 4 were found to be grievous and the rest were reported to be simple.

37. Ex. 9 is the certificate duly proved by Dr. A.N. Zutshi. The applicant filed various documents vide list papers Nos. 41 ga and 87 ga regarding the medicines purchased by him, X'rays got done, reports of Doctors and papers regarding his admission in various Hospitals. The applicant was admitted in the District Hospital, Rampur on 5.11.72 and after his medical examination he went to Delhi. On 6.11.72 he was admitted in Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi and remained there till 27.3.73. Injury No. 3 was found to be grievous. On 21.6.73 he was admitted in the Mool Chand Khairati Ram Hospital, New Delhi. He was discharged on 1.7.73 as a case of Oesteomalitis of left fumer. Pus was coming cut of the sinus and the joint could not be cured. He had to be operated for removal of sequestrum due to which pus oozing out. After the operation at Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi the pus stopped. He had to remain in the Hospital at Delhi for about 5 months and had to undergo further treatment for about a month.

38. Dr. A.N. Zutshi noted the flexibility of the left hip as 90 and extension as 150 in certificate Ex. 9. He found distrophy of the left thigh (muscle injuries). He found shortening of the left thigh by about 2 cms. The left knee was flexible upto 90. He found restricted movement on the left ankle.

39. The statement of P.W. 1 Naresh Kumar Sawhney shows that he is still undergoing treatment of Dr. C.J. Das of Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi. He has incurred permanent disability on account of which he cannot walk properly and cannot run. He cannot board a bus or train by himself. He limps. His knees become stiff. He was studying law at the time of the accident. On account of the accident he had to give up the law course which takes about three years. He joined the course of Chartered Accountant. He has to purchase special shoes worth Rs. 600/-. He has to take medicines and high portein diet.

40. The statement of P.W. 7 G.L. Sawhney (father of appellant) shows that he wanted his son to go to America for further studies and join his elder brother there. After the accident he had to give up the idea. He had very good proposals for the marriage of the applicant prior to the accident. After the accident there was no proposal.

41. The applicant has filed papers regarding correspondence for his admission in some University of America vide list paper No. 41-Ga.

42. In Sushila Pandey v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. A.I.R. 1983 Allahabad 69 (decided by one of us K.N. Singh, J.) almost a leading case on this point, the principles of awarding special damages and general damage have been discussed thread-bare. The claimant was paralysed and rendered invalid. She remained in the hospital for 3 months. There was remote possibility of her marriage. She was deprived of the amenities and pleasures of life. She could not walk, sit or move about like a normal person. She suffered great mental shock and pain on account of injuries. She was awarded Rs. 40,000/-. as general damages and Rs. 28,000/-. as special damages.

43. In Devendra Raj Mehta v. Kunwar Sen 1980 A.CJ. 225, there was shortening of leg of an I.A.S. Officer aged 32 years. The compensation awarded in the appeal was Rs. 40,000/-.

44. In Khairati v. Kalicharan Tewari 1980 A.CJ. 199 injury sustained on leg. Claims Tribunal awarded Rs. 68,340/-. In appeal it was reduced to Rs. 30,000/-.

45. We have a carefully considered the evidence on the record and the circumstances of the case. The applicant is the son of a practising law yer of Rampur and his elder brother is in America. He had joined law and wanted to go to America for further studies. The injury caused to him in the accident has partially disabled him. One of his legs has become shorter. He limps. His knees have become stiff. He cannot walk, sit or move about like a normal person. He suffered mental shock and pain on account of the injuries. He will suffer inconvenience in future also. His future career has been adversely affected. He is likely to feel embarrased on account of the physical disability. His marriage prospects have been adversely affected. In the circumstances of the case we deem it proper to award a sum of Rs. 40,000/- as general damages.

46. As far special damages are concerned, the applicant claimed Rs. 20,971.60 as the expenses incurred in treatment, special diet, nursing, etc. The applicant has filed numerous receipts and vouchers. Taking into consideration the long treatment which he had to undergo, we deem it proper to award a sum of Rs. 10,000/- under this head.

47. The Tribunal assessed the damages on the lower side when it awarded Rs. 20,000/- as general damages and Rs. 6000/- as special damages. We deem it proper to enhance the amount to Rs. 50,000/-.

48. The appeal is allowed with costs and the award made by the Tribunal is set aside. The claim petition is allowed with costs and opposite parties 1 to 3 are directed to pay a sum of Rs. 50,000/- with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of petition to the date of payment.


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