Skip to content


Sushila Pandey Vs. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal from Order No. 65 of 1977
Judge
Reported in[1984]56CompCas340(All)
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110A and 110D
AppellantSushila Pandey
RespondentNew India Assurance Co. Ltd. and anr.
Appellant AdvocateVishwanath Pandy and ;C.P. Srivastava, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateA.K. Saxena and ;B.D. Agrawal, Advs.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredIn Ratanjit Kaur v. State of Haryana
Excerpt:
.....terms of money. 10. in a case where the claimant is paralysed and incapacitated on account of the injuries received in the accident, the courts in england as well as in india have taken a liberal view in awarding compensation. public trustee, malaysia [1971] acj 309 (kula lumpur), the claimant received injuries in spine which resulted in complete paralysis in the lower part of the body causing failure of bowels, bladder and sexual functions. 14. a review of the english and indian authorities snow that the conspectus of opinion has been that in bodily injury cases where the injured survives and is disabled, compensation awarded is higher than in cases of death because compensation is to be given to a living victim who is rendered disabled and is not able to lead a normal life or to carry..........the boy had to limp while walking. the supreme court upheld the amount of rs. 20,000 as general damages awarded to the claimant for the deformity caused to him.13. in bharat premji bhai v. municipal corporation, ahmedabad, air 1978 guj 196; [1979] acj 264 (guj), a young boy of 15 years of age sustained injury in foot causing permanent disability to the extent of 25%. the gujarat high court awarded a sum of rs. 27,000. in smt. gurdev kaur v. rash behari das, air 1978 cal 547; [1979] acj 304 (cal), the claimant received multiple fracture in his rib, neck, right humerus and right clavicle, as a result of which he could not lift or move his right hand or sit properly. the high court of calcutta awarded a sum of rs. 48,000 as compensation. in amul ramchandra gandhi v. abhas bhai kasambhai.....
Judgment:

K.N. Singh, J.

1. This appeal under s. MOD of the M.V. Act, 1939, is directed against the judgment and decree of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Allahabad, dated September 28, 1976, awarding a sum of Rs. 10,000 as compensation to the claimant, Km. Sushila Pandey, for the injuries received by her in a motor accident.

2. Km. Sushila Pandey, a young girl of 11 years of age, student of class VI in the Arya Kanya Intermediate College, Muthiganj, Allahabad, was returning from her school on August 10, 1972. When she was in front of the Nagar Mahapalika Primary School on Lowther Road in Mohalla Muthiganj of Allahabad City, she was knocked down by a motor car No. ASE 3620, owned and driven by C. P. Mittal, Assistant Engineer. Temporary Division, National Highway, District Fatehpur. She receivedserious injuries, and she was rushed to the hospital where she remained confined for a long period. Even after the long treatment, she could not be normal, instead she became permanently disabled. Her body below her waist became paralyzed. She filed a claim petition under Section 110A of the Act through her relation, Sri Amar Nath, claiming a sum of Rs. 83,000 as compensation for the injuries received by her. The owner of the car filed a written statement denying his liability to pay any damages. He pleaded that he had been driving the vehicle with care in slow speed and was not guilty of any rash and negligent driving of the car. The girl all of a sudden made an attempt to cross the road and in that process she struck against the car. He further pleaded that the amount of compensation claimed by Km. Sushila Pandey was highly exaggerated. It appears that initially the insurance company was not impleaded as an opposite party to the claim petition but later when the claimant came to know the particulars of the insurer, she got the claim petition amended by impleading the New India Assurance Co. as one of the opposite parties to the claim petition. The insurance company also filed written statement and contested the claim petition.

3. On appraisal of the evidence produced by the parties, the Tribunal held that the owner, who was himself driving the car, was guilty of rash and negligent driving as a result of which the claimant received serious injuries. Placing reliance on the testimony of the Mechanical Inspector, who had examined the vehicle soon after the accident, the Tribunal held that the owner had been driving the car in a busy locality with defective brakes. The owner lost control over the vehicle and knocked down the claimant and, as such, he was liable to pay compensation. The Tribunal further held that the claimant was entitled to a sum of Rs. 10,000 for the injuries caused to her. Aggrieved, the claimant has preferred this appeal for enhancement of the amount of compensation. No cross-objection or appeal has been preferred either by the owner or by the insurance company.

4. The sole question raised on behalf of the appellant is that the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is wholly inadequate. Learned counsel urged that on account of the injuries the appellant has become permanently crippled for her entire life and, as such, she was entitled to a substantial amount as damages. The Tribunal failed to consider relevant factors which should be taken into account in assessing damages in paraplegic cases.

5. Before assessing the quantum of damages, it is necessary to refer to the injuries received by the appellant and her physical and mental condition. Dr. Y.N. Gupta, Professor of Orthopaedics in Moti Lal Nehru MedicalCollege, Allahabad, who had examined the claimant and treated her, gave his evidence before the Tribunal. According to him, the claimant had received injuries as a result of which, there were, (i) fracture of left colar bone, (ii) fracture of eleven ribs, (iii) fracture of the first and second lumbar vertibra, (iv) fracture of transverse process of first and fourth lumbar vertibra, (v) on account of the aforesaid injuries, the appellant's lower half of the body was completely paralyzed. Dr. Gupta further deposed that the appellant had become permanently disabled and chances of her marriage was improbable as she could not satisfactorily participate in sexual married life. He deposed that she could not move about, and instead she required a personal attendant throughout her life. In his cross examination, Dr. Gupta deposed that the paralysis was due to injuries in spinal cord which could not be treated. Once spinal cord is damaged, it is not possible to treat it. She has become paraplegic on account of spinal injury. The testimony of Dr. Gupta makes it amply clear that the appellant received serious injuries as a result of which her entire body below her waist is paralysed and she cannot move about. She cannot carry on any avocation in life or enjoy pleasures and amenities of life or lead a married life. She will require an attendant throughout her life and she could only move in a wheeled chair.

6. In her testimony before the Tribunal, the appellant stated that she was treated at Allahabad and at Lucknow and she remained in hospital under treatment for a period of three months. During all this time, she had to undergo great physical and mental shock and pain. Amar Nath, the appellant's guardian, who was looking after her, deposed before the Tribunal that on account of the injuries the appellant was having difficulty in passing urine. Her bladder was injured and as a result she had to use catheter, which she will have to use for the rest of her life. He further stated that on account of the appellant's paralysed condition below the waist, she has no control over her urine or stool. She has to use a wheeled chair for her movement and for that purpose modifications will have to be made in the house. He further deposed that she could not be left alone, and she permanently required an attendant. The evidence on record leaves no room for any doubt that the appellant is crippled for the rest of her life and she has undergone great physical suffering, pain and shock and she will have to undergo suffering for the rest of her life. She has no chance of leading a married life and she will be required to incur expenses for medical treatment and for having an attendant even in her future life. These facts and circumstances show that the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is wholly inadequate.

7. What damages should be awarded to a claimant who may have become paraplegic on account of injuries received in an accident is a vexed question. It is really difficult to assess the exact amount of compensation which may be equivalent to the pain, suffering and the loss suffered by the claimant. No amount of money can restore the physical frame of the claimant, yet the courts have to make an effort to assess compensation which may provide relief to the injured. Lord Morris of Borthy-Gest in H. West & Son Ltd. v. Shephard [1963] 2 All ER 625 ; [1963] 2 WLR 1359 (H.L.) referred to this aspect in the following words (p. 631) I

' My Lords, the damages which are to be awarded for a tort are those which ' so fac as money can compensate, will give the injured party reparation for the wrongful act and for all the natural and direct consequences of the wrongful act' ......The words 'so far as money can compensate point to the impossibility of equating money with human suffering or personal deprivations. A money award can be calculated so as to make good a financial loss. Money may be awarded so that something tangible may be procured to replace something else of like nature which has been destroyed or lost. But money cannot renew a physical frame that has been battered and shattered. All that judges and courts can do is to award sums which must be regarded as giving reasonable compensation. In the process, there must be an endeavour to secure some uniformity in the general method of approach. By common assent, awards must be reasonable and must be assessed with moderation. Furthermore, it is eminently desirable that so far as possible comparable injuries should be compensated by comparable awards. When all this is said, it still must be that amounts which are awarded are to a considerable extent conventional.'

8. In Ward v. James [1965] 1 All ER 563, the Court of Appeal, while dealing with the question of awarding compensation in personal injury cases, laid down three basic principles (p. 574):

' First, assessability.. In cases of grave injury, where the body is wrecked or the brain destroyed, it is very difficult to assess a fair compensation in money, so difficult that the award must basically be a conventional figure derived from experience or from awards in comparable cases. Secondly, uniformity. There should be some measure of uniformity in awards so that similar decisions are given in similar cases; otherwise there will be great dissatisfaction in the community and much criticism of the administration of justice. Thirdly, predictability. Parties should be able to predict with some measure of accuracy the sum which is likely to be awarded in a particular case, for, by this means, cases can be settled peaceably and not brought to court, a thing very much to the public good.'

The above principles laid down by the English Courts have been followed by the courts in India, in Vinod Kumar Shrivastava v. Ved Mitra Vohra [1970] ACJ 189 (MP); AIR 1970 MP 172, Prafulla Kumar Bose v.Suresh Kumar Vinod Kumar Lal Poddar, AIR 1977 Pat 248; [1978] ACJ 123 and Mahomad Hanij Dallu v. Lunkaran Ganpatram Sharma [1980] ACJ 333 (Guj).

9. Damages, which are awarded in the form of compensation to a claimant, are of two kinds ; pecuniary, which are also known as special damages, and non-pecuniary, which are classified as general damages. Pecuniary damages are generally designed to make good the pecuniary loss which is capable of being calculated in terms of money. Non-pecuniary damages are those which are incapable of being assessed by arithmetical calculation. Pecuniary damages generally include four sub-heads, (i) expenses incurred by the claimant in respect of injury which may include medical expenses, special diet, cost of nursing or attendant; (ii) loss of earning or profit up to the date of trial; (iii) loss of earning capacity which may include incapability to earn in future years and also incapability in the labour market, loss of earning on account of termination of service or discontinuance of any trade, business or profession; and (iv) other material loss which may require any special treatment or aid to the injured or claimant for the rest of life. Non-pecuniary loss (general damages) include a number of elements. Generally these include four sub-heads; (i) damages for mental and physical shock, pain, suffering, already suffered by the claimant or likely to suffer in future; (ii) damages to compensate for the loss of amenities of life which may include a variety of matters, e.g., on account of injury, the claimant may not be able to walk, run, sit or loss of marriage prospects, sexual intercourse and loss of other amenities in life; (iii) damages for the loss of expectation of life, e.g., on account of injury, the normal longevity of the person concerned is shortened ; and (iv) inconvenience, hardship, discomfiture, disappointment, frustration and mental stress in life. While indicating the various subheads, we have tried to include matters which should be considered by the Tribunal in determining compensation. It is always appropriate to consider the pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages separately having regard to the various sub-heads on the basis of the evidence produced by the parties. The heads and the sub-heads as mentioned above are not exhaustive in nature. There may be special circumstances depending on the facts of a case and it would always be open to the Tribunal to take those special circumstances into consideration in determining the compensation but generally the various sub-heads, as discussed earlier, should provide guidance for determining the compensation. It is not necessary to allocate specific sums to different heads and sub-heads, instead it is proper to arrive at a global figure after assessing various factors as contained in the various sub-heads. It is desirable that the Tribunal while considering damages should assess loss in respect of each item separately to which the claimant may be entitled under the various sub-heads as in that event it is easier for the appellate court to assess the damages in appeal.

10. In a case where the claimant is paralysed and incapacitated on account of the injuries received in the accident, the courts in England as well as in India have taken a liberal view in awarding compensation. In such cases, the amount of damages is comparatively higher than in fatal cases for the reason that compensation goes for the benefit of the person who has suffered the injury, pain, shock and suffering and which is likely to continue for the rest of his life. We would now refer to the English cases where damages were assessed in paraplegic cases. In H. West & Son v. Shephard [1963] 2 All ER 625; [1963] 2 WLR 1359 (HL), the claimant had become permanently bed-ridden, she needed continuous nursing attention, her expectation of life was shortened. She was awarded a sum of 17,500 as general damages in addition to special damages. In Morey v. Woodfield [1963] 3 All ER 533 (CA), a girl under the age of 12 years received serious injuries in a motor car accident, her spine was fractured, as a result of which she became a permanent quadri-plegia. For the whole of her life she required full-time attention. She had to use catheter which was changed regularly twice a week. She had problem in passing stool. The Court of Appeal upheld the award of 50,000 as compensation. In Moriarty v. McCarthy [1978] 2 All ER 213; (1978) 1 WLR 155 (QB), a young woman of 24 years of age received injuries causing paraplegia to her. In spite of paraplegia, the claimant was capable of carrying on her avocation in life. The court awarded a sum of 27,500 as general damages.

11. In Walker v. John McLean & Sons Ltd. [1979] 1 WLR 760 ; [1979] 2 All ER 965; [1980] ACJ 429 (CA), the claimant aged 20 years received severe spinal injury as a result of which his lower limbs below the trunk became paralysed. He required an attendant for the rest of his life. The Court of Appeal awarded 1,00,000 as damages to him which included 41,000 as special damages, 24,000 for special care and attendant and 35,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity including loss of expectancy of life. In Raja Mokhtar Bin Raja Yaacob v. Public Trustee, Malaysia [1971] ACJ 309 (Kula Lumpur), the claimant received injuries in spine which resulted in complete paralysis in the lower part of the body causing failure of bowels, bladder and sexual functions. The claimant could move about only on wheel chair. The High Court of Malaysia awarded 80,000 as general damages. The court observed that claimant's loss is not so much as physical loss but the greater loss of the opportunity of leading a full and normal life which was denied to him by his physical condition and for what he will suffer for the whole of his life.

12. In Sunil Kumar v. Roshan Lal [1973] ACJ 41 (Delhi); AIR 1973 Delhi 241, a child of 6 years received serious injuries as a result of which hisright leg above the knee had to be amputated. The Delhi High Court awarded a sum of Rs. 20,000 as general damages. In State of Punjab v. Lieutenant J. P. S. Kapoor [1973] ACJ 216 (P & H), a young man employed as Lieutenant in the Army, aged 22 years, received serious injuries causing fracture of leg and facial paralysis and stammering of tongue. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana awarded a sum of Rs. 20,000 for the loss of enjoyment of pleasures of life in addition to a sum of Rs. 4,000 for pain and suffering. In Oriental Fire & General Insurance Co. v. Surinder Kumar [1977] ACJ 5pl (P & H), a boy aged 7 years received serious injuries in a motor accident. His fourth toe of the left foot was amputated causing permanent disability to him. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana awarded a sum of Rs. 20,000 as general damages. In M.P. State Road Transport Corporation v. Sudhakar, AIR 1977 SC 1189, a boy aged 4 years received injuries causing fracture of right tibia and fabula of lower third ankle joint as a result of which the boy had to limp while walking. The Supreme Court upheld the amount of Rs. 20,000 as general damages awarded to the claimant for the deformity caused to him.

13. In Bharat Premji Bhai v. Municipal Corporation, Ahmedabad, AIR 1978 Guj 196; [1979] ACJ 264 (Guj), a young boy of 15 years of age sustained injury in foot causing permanent disability to the extent of 25%. The Gujarat High Court awarded a sum of Rs. 27,000. In Smt. Gurdev Kaur v. Rash Behari Das, AIR 1978 Cal 547; [1979] ACJ 304 (Cal), the claimant received multiple fracture in his rib, neck, right humerus and right clavicle, as a result of which he could not lift or move his right hand or sit properly. The High Court of Calcutta awarded a sum of Rs. 48,000 as compensation. In Amul Ramchandra Gandhi v. Abhas Bhai Kasambhai Diwan, AIR 1979 Guj 14 ; [1979] ACJ 460 (Guj), a student aged 12 years received injuries, and his right leg was amputated as a result of which he could walk only with the aid of crutches. The Gujarat High Court awarded a sum of Rs. 20,000 for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of amenities of life and Rs. 45,000 as future pecuniary loss. Thus, in all, a sum of Rs. 70,000 was awarded to the claimant. In Tinsukhia Flour Mills v. Shiv Prakash [1980] ACJ 356 (Raj), a young boy of 14 years received injuries as a result of which his left leg was amputated. The High Court of Rajasthan upheld the order of the Tribunal awarding Rs. 50,000 as compensation. In Chaturji Amarji v. Ahmad Rahim Bux [1980] ACJ 368 (Guj), a college going young boy lost his right forearm. The High Court of Gujarat held that the claimant's permanent disability was to the extent of 80%. It awarded Rs. 58,000 as damages. In Ratanjit Kaur v. State oj Haryana [1981] ACJ 416 (Punj); AIR 1981 Punj 159, an unmarried girl, aged 26 years, employed as a clerk, received injuries, both bones of right legs and right arm were fractured. She underwent five operations whichcaused physical disfigurement which resulted in her loss of prospects of marriage. She could not pull a cycle throughout her life and could travel only in a rickshaw or a motor vehicle. The Punjab High Court awarded a sum of Rs. 15,000 for loss of earning and suffering, a sum of Rs. 25,000 for physical disfigurement and loss of prospects of marriage, Rs. 20,000 for permanent disability and loss of enjoyment in life and Rs. 10,000 awarded for maintenance or employment of rickshaw or other vehicle for her future transport. Thus, the claimant was awarded a sum of Rs. 70,000 as damages. In Ramesh Kumar Awasthi v. Collector, Saharanpur (F.A.F.O. No. 280 of 1978), decided on 26-5-1982 -AIR 1982 All 425, since reported in [1983] ACJ 53 (All), the claimant was a college going student whose right hand was chopped off in the accident. Having regard to the disability of the claimant, this court awarded a sum of Rs. 43,000 as compensation.

14. A review of the English and Indian authorities snow that the conspectus of opinion has been that in bodily injury cases where the injured survives and is disabled, compensation awarded is higher than in cases of death because compensation is to be given to a living victim who is rendered disabled and is not able to lead a normal life or to carry on his avocation or enjoy amenities of life. In cases where the injured incurs any disability on account of which the claimant cannot walk or ride a bicycle or attend to his personal needs or if he has to be constantly under medical care, he is entitled to compensation in respect of each of those items in addition to his economic loss. The authorities discussed above further show that in recent years the courts have awarded substantial amounts as general damages. In the light of these principles, we propose to assess the quantum of damages.

15. During the course of arguments, counsel for the owner of the car stated that his client had instructed him that the appellant was leading a normal life, she was able to walk and attend to her daily needs and she was continuing her studies. Counsel suggested that the appellant had recovered from her injuries. This statement could not be accepted in view of the testimony of Dr. Y.N. Gupta, who had clearly stated that on account of serious injuries in the appellant's spinal cord she will be paraplegic for the rest of her life and it was not possible to cure the injury to the spinal cord to enable her to lead a normal life. The appellant's counsel, however, made an offer to produce the appellant before us to ascertain the truth. Even though it was not necessary but in order to dispel any suspicion or doubt, we permitted the appellant to appear before us. She appeared before us in a wheeled chair. She appeared to be a bright girl. Her legs have gone thin and she could not stand up or walk before us. She had no sensation in the lower part of her body, this was demonstrated before usby Amarnath, her phupha, who brought her to the court. On our enquiry the appellant stated that she was pursuing her studies as a private candidate at her residence with the aid of a private tutor and recently she passed her High School examination as a private candidate. To us, the appellant appeared to be a bright girl but her condition is pitiable. Even if she may obtain educational qualification to some extent, she will not be able to get any employment as in our country the technology is not so advanced as to provide facilities for the employment of a paraplegic person. She cannot, in our opinion, complete her entire education or get fruits of her education by employing herself in any service, trade or business. It was fully demonstrated before us that she cannot walk or move about but, instead she will constantly require an attendant whom she will have to employ for the rest of her life. We did not consider it proper to subject her to medical examination again as the expert medical evidence of Dr. Y. N. Gupta was fully corroborated by the presence of the appellant in the court. We enquired from the counsel for the respondents as to whether they would insist upon a medical examination of the appellant at this stage again, but the counsel very candidly stated that no useful purpose would be served as they were also convinced about her paraplegic condition on seeing her in the court. We are satisfied that the appellant has been crippled on account of the injuries received by her and she will have the discomfiture of her disability throughout the rest of her life. The appellant had claimed compensation as under:

Rs.(1) Damages for mental shock and physical pain 20,000(2) Loss of pleasures and amenities of life 15,000(3) Loss of prospects of marriage and happinessand loss of capacity to bear child 10,000(4) Loss of educational career and earning capacity 25,000(5) Shortening of expectation of life on account ofpermanent disability 10,000(6) Medical expenses 3,000

The Tribunal observed that the claimant was paralysed and rendered invalid and possibility of her marriage was also very remote. The Tribunal further observed that when she appeared in court she was invalid and could not stand. There was no evidence to show that she will ever become a normal woman. The Tribunal awarded a global amount of Rs. 10,000 only. Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that the amount awarded by the Tribunal is too low.

16. The appellant was treated at Allahabad and Lucknow and she was confined to hospital for three months. She suffered great mental shock and pain on account of injuries. Her pain and suffering will last for years to come in her life. She has to use a wheeled chair for her movement. Shewill always have social embarrassment. In our opinion, she is entitled to Rs. 15,000 for the pain, suffering and shock undergone by her and also for the suffering which she will undergo in future years of her life.

17. The evidence on record leaves no room for any doubt that the appellant shall not be able to lead a normal life and she will be deprived of the amenities and pleasures of life, she will not be able to walk, sit or move about like a normal person. She will be denied the pleasure of leading a married life or the happiness of being a mother. Loss of prospects of marriage and the incapacity to bear a child for a woman is a constant source of worry and embarrassment. In Ratanjit Kaur v. State of Haryana [1981] ACJ 416; AIR 1981 Punj 159, the Punjab High Court awarded a sum of Rs. 25,000 for the loss of prospects of marriage to the claimant. We are of the opinion that having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, the appellant is entitled to a sum of Rs. 20,000 for loss of marriage prospects and loss of capacity to bear child. The appellant is permanently disabled. She cannot walk or move about of her own. She would require a wheeled chair and an attendant to look after her. For this she is entitled to a sum of Rs. 10,000. Her physical condition to which she has been reduced on account of the injuries will certainly affect her longevity. The continued confinement to bed and her inability to move about would affect her span of life. She is entitled to a sum of Rs. 5,000 on this account. The appellant was confined to hospital for a period of three months. She was treated at Allahabad and Lucknow. She has claimed Rs. 3,000 as medical expenses to which she is eminently entitled. The appellant was a student of class VI at the time of the accident. On account of her disability, she discontinued her studies. If she had been normal she would have by now completed her education and thereafter she would have taken up the job of a teacher or any other job. Due to her disability her earning capacity has been reduced to zero. It is difficult to determine as to what career she would have followed and what would have been her earning after the completion of her educational career. She is making a bold attempt to pursue her educational career by continuing her studies privately at her residence, but to what extent she will succeed cannot be ascertained. She has suffered a set back in her educational career as at the age of 21 years she has somehow managed to pass the High School Examination. But even if she completes her education in future years, it would be difficult for her to get any employment as the possibility of getting employment by a paraplegic person in our country is almost nil. Having regard to these circumstances, we are of the opinion that she is entitled to a sum of Rs. 15,000 for loss of her educational career and earning capacity.

18. In view of the above discussion, the appellant is thus entitled to recover Rs. 40,000 as general damages and Rs. 28,000 as special damages. The accident took place about ten years ago and during all this period she was deprived of this amount. She is, therefore, entitled to interest on the aforesaid amount which we assess at the rate of 6 per cent. per annum payable from the date of filing the claim petition, i.e., February 5, 1973,

19. In the result, we allow the appeal and modify the order of the Tribunal The appellant is entitled to recover a sum of Rs. 68,000 as compensation from the respondents with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of filing the claim petition till the date of payment. The appellant is further entitled to the costs of this appeal.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //