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Rugga and ors. Vs. Harbhajan Kaur and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in2(1985)ACC408
AppellantRugga and ors.
RespondentHarbhajan Kaur and ors.
Cases Referred(M.P. State v. Majidkhan
Excerpt:
.....from police station, manpur on telephone about the occurrence of the motor-accident in village dhar and in pursuance of the said information, he had been at the spot of the accident, prepared an inquest report (pancbayatnama-laash) as well as the map of the spot showing the occurrence of the accident which has been proved by this witness as ex. the learned tribunal has held that the claimsants have failed to discharge the burden of proving the certified copy of the first information report in the present case. pannabai could be better assessed in the circumstances as loss of consortium to the husband domestic service to the family. the respondents shall also pay costs of the claimants-respondents as incurred by them before the tribunal as well as in this appeal......truck.3. the respondents denied the involvement of the truck in question in the accident.4. the learned tribunal, after trial of the case, held that it was not proved that the accident was caused by the truck no. mpn 5468 as alleged by the claimants. on appreciation of evidence adduced by the claimants regarding compensation for the death of smt. panna, the learned tribunal assessed the damages at rs. 6,700/-. but as it was held not proved that the accident occurred by the vehicle of the respondent no. 1, the appellants' claims has been dismissed by the tribunal.5. being aggrieved, the claimsants have filed the present appeal.6. learned counsel for the appellant-claimsants has urged that an fir was filed at the police station, manpur which names the truck number involved in the.....
Judgment:

R.K. Verma, J.

1. This is an appeal Under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act filed by the claimants who are respectively husband and sons of the deceased Smt. Panna who died as a result of a motor accident on Agra Bombay Road near village Dhal in the evening of 22-6-1978.

2. It is undisputed that the appellants with the deceased Smt. Panna were travelling in a cart when a truck coming with speed from Dhamnod side collided with the cart which turned turtle by the impact and was broken. Smt. Panna died on the spot as a result of the accident. The repondent Nos. 1 and 2 are the owner and driver respectively of the truck No. MPN 5468 which has been alleged to be the truck in question causing the accident. The respondent No. 3 is the Insurance Company which had insured the owner of the vehicle in respect of the said truck.

3. The respondents denied the involvement of the truck in question in the accident.

4. The learned Tribunal, after trial of the case, held that it was not proved that the accident was caused by the truck No. MPN 5468 as alleged by the claimants. On appreciation of evidence adduced by the claimants regarding compensation for the death of Smt. Panna, the learned Tribunal assessed the damages at Rs. 6,700/-. But as it was held not proved that the accident occurred by the vehicle of the respondent No. 1, the appellants' claims has been dismissed by the Tribunal.

5. Being aggrieved, the claimsants have filed the present appeal.

6. learned Counsel for the appellant-claimsants has urged that an FIR was filed at the Police Station, Manpur which names the truck number involved in the accident and the said truck was also subsequently seized in connection with Criminal Case No. 54/80 which was tried by the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Dhar, the driver Majidkhan respondent No. 2 being the accused in that case.

7. The respondent Nos. 1 and 2 remained exparte before the Tribunal after filing the written-statement. learned Counsel contended that on the basis of the evidence adduced in the case by the claimsants without any cross-examination by the respondent Nos. 1 and 2 namely, the owner and the driver of the truck, the learned Tribunal ought to have held that the vehicle MPN 5468 was the vehicle in the accident causing the death of Smt. Panna.

8. learned Counsel has, at the stage of arguments, also filed a certified copy of the judgment dated 23-12-1980 of the Addl. Judicial Magistrate First Class, Dhar, in Criminal Case No. 54/80 (M.P. State v. Majidkhan) whereby the accused Majidkhan was acquitted of the offences punishable Under Sections 304A and 337 of the Indian Penal Code. learned Counsel contended that on preponderance of probabilities, the learned Tribunal should have held the case of the claimsants proved against the respondents on the basis of the evidence adduced by the claimants inspite of the fact of acquittal the driver in the said criminal case which was due to want of adequate evidence in the criminal case resulting in benefit of doubt.

9. The learned Tribunal dismissed the claims of the appellants mainly because the First Information Reports which specifically mentioned the number of the truck in question was not proved although the certified copy of the same obtained from the Court of Addl. Judicial Magistrate First Class, Dhar, from the record of Cr. Case No. 54/80 has been filed. However, the seizure-memo whereby the truck involved in the accident was seized, has been proved as Ex. NA/1 by the Police Station Officer Shri Madanlal Shukla (AW-3) and this document also mentions the registration number of the vehicle as MPN 5468. The witness (AW-3) has stated that on 22-6-1978, when he was posted as Station Officer, Nalchha Police Station, he had received information from Police Station, Manpur on telephone about the occurrence of the motor-accident in village Dhar and in pursuance of the said information, he had been at the spot of the accident, prepared an inquest report (Pancbayatnama-Laash) as well as the map of the spot showing the occurrence of the accident which has been proved by this witness as Ex. A/1, copy whereof is Ex. A/l-A on record. This witness has also stated that on 27-6-1978 he prepared the .eizure-memo Ex- NA/1 under which he seized the truck in question. The said seizure-memo has been proved by this witness and is on record.

10. The learned Tribunal has mentioned in para 15 of its award that the Frist Information Report lodged about the accident was filed in the Criminal Case No. 54/80 before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Dhar and the said document was exhibited as Ex. P/4 in the said criminal case. The appellants have filed a certified copy of the judgment 23-12-1980 passed in Cr. Case No. 54/80 which has been taken on record by this Court. The said judgment in its para 3 does mention the relevant First Information as Ex. P/4 and the fact that the truck in question had disappeared from the scene of accident. The seizure of the truck five days later under the circumstances, in my opinion, cannot give rise to an inference that the truck in question was not the one involved in the accident.

11. In the instant case, the claimants have filed a certified copy of the First Information Report from the records of the criminal case. The learned Tribunal has held that the claimsants have failed to discharge the burden of proving the certified copy of the First Information Report in the present case. The copy of the First Information Report which is on record appears to be a certified copy of the First Information Report which had been proved in the Criminal Court before the said certified copy was issued by that Court. As such, it cannot be ignored as a waste paper having no evidentiary value.

12. In the light of the evidence referred to above, I hold that the vehicle causing the accident resulting in the death of the deceased Smt. Pannabai was MPN 5468 of which the respondent No. 1 is the owner and respondent No. 2 was the driver.

13. The learned Tribunal, has, however, held in para 7 that the on date of the accident, the respondent No. 2 Majidkhan was the driver of the truck in question. learned Counsel for the respondent-Insurance Company urged that the company was not liable as the driver Majidkhan had no valid driving licence at the time of the accident. The learned Counsel referred to a sentence in the deposition of AW-3 Madanlal Shukla who stated that he had not seized the driving licence as it was not in the driver's possession. This statement by itself does not negative the possibility of the driver holding a valid driving licence on the date of the accident. The Insurance Company could have ascertained from the Office of the R.T.O. whether or not Majidkhan was possessed of a driving licence and could have adduced evidence in case Majidkhan was not possessed of driving licence on the material date. The learned Tribunal has, in para 17 of the award, discussed this contention of respondent No. 3 and has rightly held that it was not proved by the Insurer that the driver Majidkhan was not possessed of a valid driving licence on the date of accident.

14. In view of my finding that the accident was caused by the truck No. MPN 5468, the respondent Nos. 1 and 2 and the insurer-respondent No. 3 who had admittedly insured the respondent No. 1 owner of the truck in question have to be held liable jointly and severally for the compensation amount awardable to the claimsants.

13. learned Counsel for the appellants has submitted that the amount of Rs. 6,700/- assessed by the learned Tribunal as damages for the death of Smt. Pannabai is inadequate and the same deserves to be enhanced. The evidence adduced by the claimsants on the question of compensation has been appreciated by the learned Tribunal. The deceased Smt. Pannabai admittedly worked for two to three months in a year as a labourer. The learned Tribunal has assessed her daily wages @ Rs. 5/- for two months in a year. The compensation of Rs. 6,700/- determined by the Tribunal cannot be said to be inadequate in the circumstances. learned Counsel for the respondent, however, contends that the amount of compensation assessed by the Tribunal is on the higher side and is unreasonable in view of the evidence adduced in that regard. In fact the compensation for the death of Smt. Pannabai could be better assessed in the circumstances as loss of consortium to the husband domestic service to the family. The amount of Rs. 6,700/- determined as compensation by the Tribunal does not appear to be unreasonable so as to call for any modification.

16. In the result, the appeal is allowed. The respondents are held liable jointly and severally to pay compensation amount of Rs. 6,700/- to the appellants-claimants together with interest @ 9% per annum from the date of application i.e. 31-8-1978 till payment. The respondents shall also pay costs of the claimants-respondents as incurred by them before the Tribunal as well as in this appeal. Counsel's fee is fixed at Rs. 300/- in this Court, if certified.


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