S.P. Goyal, J.
1. This appeal from the order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Hissar (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal), dated Oct. 5, 1971, raises an interesting point of law as to whether a compensation claim for damage to property simpliciter can be entertained and adjudicated upon by the Tribunal under Section 110(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.
2. The appellant--Haryana State preferred a claim application before the Tribunal for an amount of Rs. 3,000/-by way of compensation on the allegations that five buffaloes of the progeny Testing Farm, Hissar, owned by the State, were killed by rash and negligent driving of Truck No. HRH-7467 on Sept. 17, 1970 by Duli Chand driver.
3. The claim was contested by the respondent who also raised a preliminary objection that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the same. Relying on Smt. Jaswant Kaur v. Ratti Ram, (1970) 72 Pun LR 932, the Tribunal upheld the plea of the respondents and dismissed the petition. The correctness of this order is under challenge in this appeal.
4. Mr. V. P. Gandhi, the learned counsel for the respondents, does not dispute that the proposition lid down in Smt. Jaswant Kaur's case ( (1970) 72 Pun LR 932)(supra) does not hold the field any more because of the amendment bought about in S. 110 by the Amending Act No. 56 of 1969. He, however, sought to sustain the order of the Tribunal on another ground that no claim application is competent by a third person who has not received any bodily injury. To substantiate this argument, the learned counsel referred to the provisions of S. 110--A (1) and contended that under sub--clause (a) which alone could possibly be invoked in the present case, the claim application is competent only by the person who has sustained bodily injury. The argument of the learned counsel seems to be that the word 'injury' in sub--clause (a) means only the bodily injury and that unless a person making a claim for damage to property has also received bodily injury in the accident, no such claim would be maintainable. In support of his contention, the learned counsel placed reliance on Farusbhai Altapbhai Saiyed v. Dullabhbhai Bhagabhai Patel 1973 Acc CJ 149: (AIR 1972 Guj 244) and B. S. Nat v. Bachan Singh 1971 Acc CJ 37: (AIR 1971 Punj 144)(supra). In Farsubhai's case (supra) the provisions of S. 110--A (1) were interpreted prior to the amendment of S. 110 in the year 1969. On a combined reading of Ss. 110(1) and 110--A (1), it was held that application before the Tribunal could be made only by a person who has sustained bodily injury and that the person who has suffered damage to his property as a result of the accident was not given the right to make such application. Prior to the amendment in the year 1969, the Tribunal had the jurisdiction only to adjudicate claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of or bodily injury to the persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles and it was only by the Amending Act No. 56 of 1969 that the claims respecting damages to the property of a third party were made triable by the Tribunal. So this decision which was rendered prior to this amendment on the combined reading of S. 110(1) and S. 110--A (1) is not of much help in the interpretation of the provisions of Clause (1) of S. 110--A. So far as B. S. Nath's case (supra) is concerned, what was relied upon by the learned counsel were some obiter dicta observations of C. G. Suri, J. according to which some corresponding amendments consequential have been made in S. 110 should have been made in the clauses of Section 110--A (1) which are supposed to give an exhaustive list of the categories of persons who can file application under the Act. There observations by the learned Judge can hardly be said to contain any expression of opinion on the interpretation of the provisions of Section 110--A (1) and, therefore, are also of no help.
5. It was next contended that though the provisions of S. 110(1) were amended so as to authorise the Tribunal to decide claims respecting damage to property yet no corresponding amendment was made in sub-s. (1)(a) of S. 110--A which necessarily implies that the Legislature intended to authorise the Tribunal to try only composite claims of bodily injury and damage to property and not the later claims simpliciter. We quite appreciate the ingenuity of the argument but find no substance in it. The bare reading of the amended S. 110(1) would show that the Tribunal is now authorised to adjudicate upon claims or compensation involving the death of or bodily injury to persons or damages to any property or both. The claim for damage to property simpliciter is, therefore, within the cognizance of the Tribunal. The Legislature probably did not deem it necessary to make any corresponding amendment in S. 110--A because the word injury is a word of very wide amplitude and includes both bodily injury and injury to property. According to dictionary meaning of the word 'injury' means, 'damage or hurt done or suffered by a person or thing.' As a general term, therefore, it means, hurt of any sort whether suffered by a person or a thing and the person whose property has been damaged in a motor accident would, therefore, be the person who has sustained the injury within the meaning of Clause (1)(a) of S. 110--A of the Act.
6. Again S. 110--F of the Act expressly bars jurisdiction of Civil Court to entertain claims which can be adjudicated upon by the Tribunal. A claim for damage to property to the extent of Rs. 2000/-has been expressly made triable by the Tribunal after the amendment referred to above. The combined effect of the provisions of the two sections S. 110(1) and S. 110--F necessarily is that claim for damage to property to the extent of Rs. 2000/-is triable by the Tribunal and the jurisdiction of the Civil Court is expressly barred. If the contention of the learned counsel is accepted, the result would be that claim for damage to the property to the extent noted above would not be entertainable either by the Tribunal or by the Civil Court if the claimant has not also received bodily injury. Such an incongruous situation cannot be countenanced nor can such an intention be ascribed to the Legislature.
7. The purpose of the amendment made in S. 110(1) of the Act was obviously to provide a speedy remedy for the settlement of the claims for damage to property arising out of the use of motor vehicles. It is well settled principle of interpretation of the Statutes that where the court is faced with a choice between a wide meaning which carries out what appears to have been the object of the Legislature more fully, and a narrower meaning which carries it out less fully or not at all, it will often choose the former. Reference in this respect may be made to Nokes v. Don Caster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd. (1940) AC 1014 where per Viscount Simon L. C. observed :
'If the choice is between two interpretations, the narrower of which would fail to achieve the manifest purpose of the legislature, we should avoid a construction which would reduce the legislation to futility and should rather accept the bolder construction based on the view that Parliament would legislate only for the purposes of bringing about an effective result.'
Keeping in view the intention of the Legislature, it would be proper to give a wider meaning to the word 'injury' in Clause (1)(a) of S. 110--A so as to include injury to the property also. We are supported in our view by a single Bench decision of the Gujrat High Court in Ratan Singh Karsanbhai Nakum v. Isadkhan Gulamkhan, 1975 Acc CJ 455 where Desai, J. after noticing the observations in Parsubhai's case (supra) held that :
'these observations were made in the context of S. 110(1) as it existed then. In fact, the aforesaid conclusion was arrived at by the learned Judge on a combined reading of S. 110(1) and Section 110--A. We may adopt the same approach after the amendment, and try to solve the question posed before us by a combined reading of Ss. 110(1) and 110--A as amended. It is quite clear that, in view of the amended S. 110(1) the third person who is not bodily injured or whose property is damaged, is a person who has sustained the injury (not necessarily a bodily injury) as contemplated by Clause (a) of S. 110--A (1)(a).'
Similarly, in Shyambihari v. Shiv Singh 1976 Acc CJ 95(Madh Pra), Sohani, J. before whom reliance was placed on B. S. Nat's case (supra) observed that this case was clearly distinguishable and was, no authority for the proposition that in spite of an amendment made in section 110 of the Act, the word, 'injury' should be given a restricted meaning. Learned Judge was, therefore, further of the opinion that the word 'injury' in the context of provisions of S. 110 of the Act as amended by Act No. 56 of 1969 would also include injury to the property of the person.
8. In view of the above discussion, this appeal is allowed, the order of the Tribunal is set aside and the case is sent back for further proceedings in accordance with law. No order as to costs.
A.S. Bains, J.
9. I agree.
10. Appeal allowed.