1. This is an appeal against an award made by the Motor Vehicles Claims Tribunal, Jabalpur. The appellant Vinod Kumar Shrivastava was knocked down by a motor truck on 10th March, 1963 and received bodily injuries. The truck at therelevant time was owned by the first respondent, was driven by his driver the second respondent and was insured with the third respondent. The appellant claimed before the Tribunal a sum of Rs. 20,000/- as compensation against the respondents in respect of bodily injuries suffered by him in the accident. By the award under appeal the claim has been allowed to the extent of Rs. 5,000/-. The appellant has come up to this Court for enhancement of the award.
2. The appellant at the time of the accident was seventeen years of age and was a student. He was knocked down from behind while going on foot and his left leg came under the wheels of the motor truck resulting in a compound fracture of lower one-third Tibia and Fibula bones. The leg was immobilised from toe to thigh and was kept in plaster for nearly three months. The appellant was examined by Dr. Koshal, Head of the Department of Surgery, Medical College Jabalpur, on 28th November, 1966. Dr. Koshal found that the fracture had healed well and there was no mal-union. But he also found that there was wasting of the muscle of the lower third of the left leg on the medial side, wasting, of the left quadriceps and limitation of active flexion of the left knee and left foot. According to Dr. Koshal, the appellant will have partial disability of the use of the left ankle joint and the left lower limb in that he will not be able to take part in heavy outdoor games and heavy physical exercises. Dr. Koshal has further stated that the appellant is likely to develop early osteoarthritis changes in the ankle joint which may become painful in middle age and later life. The appellant even after the accident continued to be a member of the National Cadet Corps which goes to show that he is not handicapped in walking or in taking part in normal drill exercises. His career though interrupted for some time has not been affected and he has been able to prosecute his normal studies. It is pointed out to us from the statement of the appellant that he cannot take part in outdoor games and cannot ride a bicycle. This part of his statement appears to us to be an exaggeration. May be that he cannot play the games or ride a bicycle as well as he did before, but it is not believable from the nature of the injuries and the statement of Dr. Koshal that he cannot at all play the outdoor games or cannot ride a bicycle. In our opinion, the evidence of Dr. Koshal does not show that the permanent disability resulting from the injuries is of any appreciable nature.
3. The first contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the Tribunal in awarding Rs. 5,000/- as damages has not taken into account the following heads of damages: (i) Loss of expectation of life; (ii) Loss of amenity; and (iii) Future pain and suffering,
4. As regards the argument that the Tribunal has not taken into account damageunder the head 'loss of expectation of life', it must be noticed that there is no evidence whatsoever led by the appellant to show that his expectation of life has been reduced by the injuries received by him in the accident. The learned counsel for the appellant has, however, in this connection referred to Benham v. Gambling, (1941) 1 All ER 7 (HL) and has argued that as according to that case 'the thing to be valued is not the prospect of length of days, but the prospect of a predominantly happy life' all that the injured person need show is that his future life because of the injuries will not be as happy as before and he need not prove that his expectation of life has been reduced by the injuries. This argument proceeds on a complete misconception,
In the leading case of Flint v. Lovell, 1934 All ER Rep 200, the plaintiff Flint was sixty-nine years of age when he met with an accident resulting in personal injuries. He was in ordinary health for a man of his years and might have expected to live for eight or nine years. The medical evidence produced by him was to the effect that as a result of the injuries his life had been shortened so that he could not be expected to live for more than a year. In these circumstances, it was held by the Court of Appeal that the Tribunal in awarding damages to the plaintiff properly took into account as a separate item or head of damage the fact that the plaintiff's expectation of life had been substantially shortened by the injury that he had received. 1934 All ER Rep 200 (supra) was approved by the House of Lords in Rose v. Ford, 1937-3 All ER 359 where the injured person had died as a result of injuries sustained in a motor car accident and the suit had been brought by her administrator. The speeches delivered in 1937-3 All ER 359 (supra) unmistakably show that loss of expectation of life is an item of damage only when injuries sustained are such which lead to the curtailment of the normal expectation of life of the injured person. In this context the following passages from 1937-3 All ER 359 (supra) may be usefully quoted:
'A man is injured in the prime of life. Evidence is given that he is not likely to live more than two or three years. The tribunal estimating damages will take this fact into account, not only in estimating actual money loss, for he may not be in a position to earn, or be capable of earning, anything, but also as an item of personal damage. It does not seem to me necessary to say that a man has a personal right, of the nature of property, in his life, so that, when it is diminished, he loses something in the nature of valuable property, I do not say that this is not so, but I am satisfied that the injured person is damnified by having cut short the period during which he had a normal expectation of enjoying life, and that the loss, damnum, is capable of being estimated interms of money, and that the calculation should be made.' (Per Lord Atkin, p. 362).
'I am of opinion that, if a person s expectation of life is curtailed, he is necessarily deprived of something of value, and that, i that loss to him is occasioned by the negligence of another, that other is liable to him in damages for the loss.'
(Per Lord Russell of Killowen, pp. 365, 366).p2
'A man has a legal right in his own life. I think he has a legal interest entitling him to complain if the integrity of his life is impaired by tortious acts, not only in regard to pain, suffering, and disability, but also in regard to the continuance of life for its normal expectancy. A man has a legal right that his life should not be shortened by the tortious act of another. His normal expectancy of life is a thing of temporal value, so that its impairment is something for which damages should be given.' (Per Lord Wright, pp. 371, 372).
Where the injured person himself sues as plaintiff, some evidence possibly of medical men must be led if he claims damages for loss of expectation of life to show that the injury has shortened his normal expectation of life. It is true that medical evidence in such cases will be speculative and like other sworn testimony may turn out to be incorrect as actually happened in 3934 All ER 200 (supra) where the evidence was that the plaintiff Flint, who was injured in 1933, was not expected to live for more than a year and he was still alive in 1937 when 1937-3 All ER 359 was decided by the House of Lords. But that only shows that medical men may commit mistakes in giving opinion on the question of shortening of life and some caution may be necessary before accepting their evidence. In cases where the suit is brought by the administrator of the injured person who is dead as happened in 1937-3 All ER 359 (supra) the fact of death of the injured person 'obviates to some extent the necessity of medical evidence that the accident has shortened the person's life;' [1937-3 All ER 359]. Rut in cases where the injured person is alive, evidence has to be led to prove the fact of shortening of expectation of life.
1941-1 All ER 7 (supra) relied upon by the learned counsel for the appellant was concerned not in laying clown a new head of damage for personal injuries but with the problem of assessment of damages for loss of expectation of life. It was in this connection that Viscount Simon, L. C., observed:
'The thing to be valued is not the prospect of length of days, but the prospect of a predominantly happy life. The age of the individual may, in some cases, be a relevant factor for example, in extreme old age the brevity of what life may be left may be relevant -- but, as it seems to me, arithmetical calculations are to be avoided, if only for the reason that it is of no assistance toknow how many years may have been lost unless one knows how to put a value on the years. It would be fallacious to assume, for this purpose, that all human life is continuously an enjoyable thing, so that the shortening of it calls for compensation, to be paid to the deceased's estate, on a quantitative basic. The ups and downs of life, its pains and sorrows as well as its joys and pleasures all that makes up 'life's fitful fever' have to be allowed for in the estimate. In assessing damages for shortening of life, therefore, such damages should not be calculated solely, or even mainly, on the basis of the length of life which is lost.'
'I would rather say that, before damages are awarded in respect of the shortened life of a given individual under this head, it is necessary for the Court to be satisfied that the circumstances of the individual life were calculated to lead, on balance, to a positive measure of happiness, of which the victim has been deprived by the defendant's negligence. If the character or habits of the individual were calculated to lead him to a future of unhappiness or despondency, that would be a circumstance justifying a smaller award.' (P. 12)
'The prospect of predominantly happy life' has relevance to the life that is shortened as a result of the injuries; that is clear in the passages quoted above. As later pointed out in the judgment, damages are to be assessed by putting a money value on the prospective balance of happiness in years that the injured might otherwise have lived, and having regard to the uncertainties of life and difficulties in assessment very moderate sums are to be awarded. In the words of the Lord Chancellor:
'The truth, of course, is that, in putting a money value on the prospective balance of happiness in years that the deceased might otherwise have lived, the jury or judge of fact is attempting to equate incommensurables. Damages which would be proper for a disabling injury may well be much greater than for deprivation of life. These considerations lead me to the conclusion that, in assessing damages under this head, whether in the case of a child or an adult, very moderate figure should be chosen.' (P. 13)
If the argument of the learned counsel were to be correct, there will be complete overlapping of two recognised heads of damage viz., loss of expectation of life and loss of amenities of life. Damages for loss of expectation of life are awarded only when expectation of life is shortened as a result of the injuries and are to be assessed by putting a money value on the prospective balance of happiness in the years that the injured might have otherwise lived. On the other hand, damages for loss of amenities of life, which is a separate head of damage, are to be awarded when the injured is deprived for the period he lives of ordinary experiences and enjoyment of life. An illustration where an award under both the heads was made is furnished by H. West and Sons Ltd. v. Shephard, 1964 AC 326.
In the instant case as there was no evidence to show that the appellant's expectation of life had in any way been affected by the injuries sustained, the Tribunal was right in not awarding any damages under the head 'loss of expectation of life'.
5. We now take up the argument of the learned counsel for the appellant that the Tribunal has also not taken into consideration damage under the heads 'future pain and suffering' and 'loss of amenities of life'. The medical evidence to which we have already referred shows that the appellant is likely to develop early osteoarthritis changes in the ankle joint which may become painful in middle age. This is the damage which the appellant argues should have been compensated under the head 'future pain and suffering.' Complaint as to loss of amenities is founded on the evidence that the appellant will not be able to take part in heavy outdoor games or heavy physical exercises as the injury has resulted in partial disability of the use of the left ankle joint and the left lower limb. Having gone through the judgment under appeal, we are satisfied that the Tribunal did take into consideration both these matters in making the award of damages. The Tribunal has believed the evidence of Dr. Koshal and has found in favour o the appellant that he will have partial disability of the use of the left ankle joint and left lower limb. It has also found that the appellant is likely to develop early osteoarthritis changes in his later life. Out of the total amount of Rs. 5,000/- awarded by the Tribunal the award of Rs. 2,000/- is expressly relatable to the partial loss of normal functioning of the left leg and the possibility that the appellant may develop early osteoarthritis changes in later life. Although the expressions 'future pain and suffering' and 'loss of amenities' have not been used, we are of the view that the Tribunal was alive to these matters in making the assessment of compensation otherwise the separata award of Rs. 2,000/- becomes meaningless.
6. The next contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the amount of Rs. 5,000/- awarded by the Tribunal is too low.
7. Now the task of assessment of damages for non-pecuniary damage in personal injury actions is a difficult one, for human suffering resulting from any serious bodily injury cannot from its very nature be valued in terms of money. But as the injured can be awarded only monetary compensation, the courts make an endeavour as best as they can to quantify non-pecuniary damage in terms of money having regard to the injury and the damage resulting from it. In the process of application, the wide discretion that the Courts exercise in makingawards of compensation, like any other judicial discretion, has canalized itself into a set of rules. These rules are: (1) The amount of compensation awarded must be reasonable and must be assessed; with moderation; (2) Regard must be had to awards made in comparable cases; and (3) The sums awarded should to a considerable extent be conventional. It is only by adherence to these self-imposed rules that the courts can decide like cases in like manner and bring about a measure of predictability of their awards, These considerations are of great importance if administration of justice in this field is to command the respect of the community. Reference in this connection may be made to two cases decided in recent years. In 1964 AC 326 = 1963-2 All ER 625 (HL), Lord Morris observed:
'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 the 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.' (P. 631)
In Ward v. James, 1965-1 All ER 563 (CA) the Full Court of Appeal ruled that trial with a jury should not be ordered in personal injury cases save in exceptional circumstances so that the following three things be achieved:
'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.' (p. 574)
8. Having regard to these principles, we must now turn to cases cited as comparable cases for deciding whether the Tribunal has awarded fair compensation to the appellant.
The learned counsel for the appellant has relied upon Gyarsilal v. Sitacharan Dubey, 1963 MPLJ 162 = (AIR 1963 Madh Pra 164) and M. P. S. Road T, Corporation v. Sudhakar, 1967 MPLJ 258= (AIR 1968 MP47) in support of his submission that a much larger amount should have been awarded to, the appellant. In Gyarsilal's case, 1963 MPLJ 162= (AIR 1963 MP 164) (supra) the plaintiff, who was awarded a sum of Rs. 30,000/- damages, had suffered much more serious injuries; apart from other injuries his right nip joint was dislocated and its socket fractured and even after treatment the right leg was unable to support the weight of the body compelling continuous use of crutches. There was thus a complete permanent disablement of the right leg in Gyarsilal's case, 1963 MPLJ 162 = (AIR 1963 MP 164) (supra) distinguishing the same from the instant case. Moreover, the amount of compensation awarded in that case was not challenged in appeal and the High Court had no occasion to consider whether the amount awarded was fair or excessive. In 1967 MPLJ 258 = (AIR 1968 Madh Pra 47) (supra), Sudhakar who was one of the plaintiffs was awarded a sum of Es. 10,000/- as compensation for non-pecuniary damage. He had serious burn injuries on his entire body including chest, stomach and back making his condition very serious. He had also received severe mental shock as his wife and child had died in the same accident. The High Court in that case did not find any reason to interfere with the amount awarded to Sudhakar 'in view of the serious injuries suffered by him as also the mental shock suffered on account of the death of his wife and the only child;' (see p. 268 of the report). Another plaintiff in that case was one Vasudeo Vyas, who was injured in the same accident and had a simple fracture on the right humerus bone in the middle and infected burns on the left thigh, buttock and part of the abdomen. His condition was serious for two months and the period of illness lasted for about six months. He was also awarded a sum of Rs. 10,000/-. Thus in the case of 1967 MPLJ 258= (AIR 1968 Madh Pra 47) (supra) the injuries that were compensated by award of damages were essentially burn injuries and bear no resemblance to the injuries received by the appellant in the instant case. Before cases can be used as comparable cases, they must bear a reasonable measure of similarity; 'it is necessary to ensure that in main essentials the facts of one case must bear comparison with the facts of another before any comparison between the awards in the respective cases can fairly or profitably be made;' [Singh v. Toong Fong Omnibus Co., 1964-2 All ER 925 at p. 927 (PC) 3, In our opinion, the facts of the cases 1963 MPLJ 162 = (AIR 1963 M P 164) (supra) and 1967 MPLJ 258 = (AIR 1968 Madh Pra 47) (supra) dp not bear similarity with the facts of the instant case and these cases cannot be used as comparable cases.
Now we take up the cases which have been relied upon by the learned counsel for the respondent. These cases are Deepti Tiwari v. Banwarilal, 1966 MPLJ 464 = (AIR 1968 MP 2S9), Union of India v. Bhagwati Prasad, AIR 1957 Madh Pra 159 and Balkrishna v. Mahabali Prasad Tiwari, 1969 Ace. C. J. 189. In Deepti Tiwari's case, 1968 MPLJ 464= (AIR 1966 Madh Pra 239) (supra) a young girl of 15 years who was a student was involved in an accident resulting in fracture of the spine fourth lumber vertebra. She was put under a plaster jacket for three months. After recovery her gait was normal and there was no disability in walking. There was partial permanent disability as regards playing Badminton or strenuous games and riding a bicycle. She was likely to develop osteoarthritic changes and low back aches. On these facts she was awarded a sum of Rs. 4,000/- as general damages. Although this was a case of spinal injury, the facts relating to the effect of the injury bear close similarity with the facts of the instant case. In AIR 1957 Madh Pra 159 (supra) the plaintiff had suffered fracture of the leg resulting in 40 per cent permanent disability and was .unable to walk without pain and support. He was then 30 years of age and was earning about Rs. 50/- per month. In these circumstances, he was awarded a sum of Rs. 4,000/- as general damages. In 1969 Acc. C. J. 189 (M. P.) (supra) the plaintiff whose right leg was fractured resulting in partial permanent disability was awarded a sum of Rs. 4,000/- as general damages.
Mention may also be made of an English case Madden v. Brown, 1956 C. A. No. 209 D/- 13-7-1956 which is noted in Kemp and Kemp, The Quantum of Damages, Second Edition Vol. I p. 602. In that case the plaintiff, a boy of 15 years, broke his right leg and cracked his left knee. His leg was in plaster for twelve weeks and left knee in plaster for six weeks. He recovered completely except that he was slightly handicapped in running and in playing some games. He was awarded a sum of 275 as general damages and the award was upheld by the Court of Appeal.
The infuries received by the plaintiffs in 1966 MPLJ 464= (AIR 1966 MP 239), AIR 1957 Madh Pra 159 and 1969 Acc. C. J. 189 (M. P.) (supra) were more serious in comparison to the injuries received by the appellant in the instant case. In all those cases a sum of Rs. 4,000/- was awarded as general damages. The award of Rs. 5,000/- in the instant case made by the Tribunal cannot, therefore, be held to be low.
9. Lastly it is argued for the appellant that the Tribunal should have allowed interest on the amount of compensation from the date of the application for compensation made to the Tribunal.
10. The power of a Court to allow interest prior to the date of suit is governed by the Interest Act, 1839. This Act is modelled on the language used in Section 28 of the English Civil Procedure Act, 1833. This powerto allow interest under the Interest Act can be exercised only in respect of 'debts and sums certain' and interest cannot be allowed if the claim is for unliquidated damages. In England Section 28 of the Civil Procedure Act, 1833 has been repealed and replaced by Section 3 of the Law Reforms (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934 which empowers a Court to allow interest from the date of the cause of action to the date of judgment in any proceedings for recovery of 'any debt or damages.' The change introduced by the Law Reforms Act thus enables a Court in England to award interest for a period prior to the date of suit even when the suit is for recovery of unliquidated damagest No such change has taken place in India and interest cannot be awarded for a period prior to the date of suit when the suit is for recovery of unliquidated damages. As regards any period after the institution of suit, the power to award interest in India is governed by Section 34 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. This section empowers a Court to allow interest from the date of the suit to the date of decree and/or from the date of decree to the date of payment when the decree is for 'payment of money.' It has been held that this provision applies even when the suit is for unliquidated damages; [Pannalal v. Radhakissen, AIR 1924 Cal 637; Ramalingam Chettiar v. Gokul Das Madavji and Company, AIR 1926 Mad 1021; Anandram Mangturam v. Bholaram Tanumal, AIR 1946 Bom 1]. In England as provided in Section 17 of the Judgments Act, 1838, every judgment debt, other than one arising on a county court judgment, carries interest at four percent from the time of entering up the judgment until it is satisfied. There is no similar provision in India and the award of interest for any period after judgment is govered by Section 34 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
11. The question to be examined in the instant case is whether a Claims Tribunal has power similar in nature to that exercised by a Court under Section 34 of the Code of Civil Procedure to allow interest on the amount of damages from the date of the application and/or from the date of the award till payment, A Claims Tribunal is constituted under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 'for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of, or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles.' The final adjudication of the Tribunal, as provided in Section 110-B, takes the shape of an award which the Tribunal may make 'determining the amount of compensation which appears to it to be just.' The Tribunal by Section 110-C is conferred the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and of compelling the discovery and production of documents and material objects; it may also have all the powers of a Civil Court for such other purposes as may be prescribed. The StateGovernment is authorised under Section 111-A to make rules and the rules may provide for 'the procedure to be followed by a Claims Tribunal in holding an inquiry' and 'the powers vested in a Civil Court which may be exercised by a Claims Tribunal.' In exercise of this power, the State Government has framed rules known as the Madhya, Pradesh Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal Rules, 1959. Rule 14 of these Rules makes applicable certain provisions of the first Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 to proceedings before the Tribunal. Under the scheme of these sections and the Rules the Tribunal does not exercise all the powers of a Civil Court but only those which are conferred on it by Section 110-C and the rules framed under Section 111-A. Power to order interest from the date of institution o the suit upto the date of payment exercised by a Civil Court under Section 34 of the Code of Civil Procedure has not been in terms conferred on the Tribunal either by Section 110-C or by the rules, made under Section 111-A. But does it follow that the Tribunal has no power to allow interest The central power of the Tribunal is conferred by Section 110-B to 'make an award determining the amount of compensation which appears to it to be just.' The amount of compensation will normally be determined with reference to the date of the application, but it must appear to the Tribunal to be just on the date of the making of the award. If the circumstances of the case are such that some interest should be allowed from the date of the application upto the date of the award or payment, to make the award 'just', the Tribunal must impliedly have that power otherwise it will not be able to make a just award. Thus the power to allow interest though not expressly conferred, flows from Section 110-B itself from the power to award the amount of compensation which is just. There is yet another way of looking at the matter. The Tribunals are constituted to decide claims for compensation which prior to their constitution were decided by Civil Court. The sections pertaining to the Claims Tribunal in the Motor Vehicles Act apart from dealing with its constitution, power to make an award, and other procedural matters, do not Jay down the law according to which the Tribunal is to adjudicate the claim for compensation. The Tribunal must, therefore, decide claims for compensation according to the existing law as the Courts would have done if the claims were laid in a suit. The object of Sections 110 to 110-F of the Motor Vehicles Act is the substitution of Tribunals in place of Courts; the object is not to deprive the claimant of a substantive relief which he would have obtained had the matter been litigated in courts. If in the circumstances of a case a Court would have allowed interest to a claimant from the date of suit or from the date of decree, the Tribunal must necessarily possess that power otherwise theclaimant would be deprived of a relief which he would have obtained before the constitution of the Tribunal. On similar reasoning it has been held that the power exercisable by a Court under the Law Reforms (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934 to award interest on debt or damages can be exercised by an arbitrator appointed by the parties; See -- Chandris v. Isbrandtsen Moller Co., 1951-2 All ER 618 (C. A.). We are, therefore, of the view that although Section 34 of the Code of Civil Procedure does not in terms apply to a Claims Tribunal constituted under the Motor Vehicles Act, the principles of the section apply and the Tribunal in a proper case has power to allow interest from the date of the application to the date of the award and/or from the date of the award to the date of pay-merit.
12. The next question is whether this is a fit case where interest should be allowed. The appellant in his application for compensation put forward an exaggerated claim of Rs. 20,000/-. That seems to be the main reason why the claim was entirely denied by the respondents and the proceedings in the Tribunal dragged on for nearly four years. The appellant did not suffer any special damage and the award is restricted to compensation payable on account of non-pecuniary damage. In the circumstances, we do not find that this is a fit case where interest should be allowed from the date of the application. There is, however, no reason why interest should not have been allowed by the Tribunal from the date of the award to the date of payment. In our opinion, the appellant should be allowed 4 per cent interest from the date of the award on the amount of compensation awarded to him.
13. We order that the amount of compensation awarded in favour of the appellant by the Tribunal shall carry interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum from the date of the award upto payment. Subject to this modification, the appeal is dismissed. In the circumstances, the parties shall bear their own costs of the appeal.