1. This is appeal by Y. S. Kumar and General Insurance Society Limited against Kuldip Singh Jaspal. It is directed against the award of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Punjab dated December 30, 1967 granting the claim of the respondent to the extent of Rs.8,700 for the injury of the right ankle suffered by him consequent upon negligent driving of motor-cycle by the first appellant. Facts leading to the appeal are as under:--
2. The respondent is Excise and Taxation Officer. The accident occurred at 10-45 a.m. on January 23, 1966. On that date, the respondent was working at Jullundur. He was proceeding on a cycle along the G. T. Road from the side of District Courts towards Nehru Garden. He had to cross another road as he wanted to make purchases from some shop. Prior to the crossing of that road, he stopped his cycle along the margin of the metalled portion of the road, placed his left foot on the kacha portion of the road and the right on the paddle. Before he could look back to see if the road was clear and he could cross, the first appellant riding motorcycle No. PNA-8692 passed from behind at a high speed and struck his motorcycle against the right ankle of the respondent. The respondent fell down and became unconscious. He was picked up by Apa Jit Singh, Inspector of Excise and Taxation Department B. R. Nair and some medical students. They carried him to the Civil Hospital. The occurrence was seen by Apa Jit Singh and B. R. Nair, who at the relevant time happened to be walking along the road. His injuries were examined by Dr. Shingara Singh at 11-30 a.m. on that very day. He found fracture of the lower ends of the right tibia and fibula and a swelling on the ankle. He also noticed an abrasion on the right leg just above the right knee.
3. The respondent made application claiming Rs.25,000. The first appellant did not file any written statement. The insurance company, however, put in written statement and denied liability to meet the claim of the respondent. The following issues were framed by the trial Court:--
(1) Was the accident due to any negligent act on the part of the driver of the vehicle involved?
(2) What is the quantum of compensation due, if any and from whom?
(3) Is the application bad for any reasons mentioned in the written statement. If so, to what effect?
4. The above two eyewitnesses corroborated the testimony of the respondent. No evidence was given on behalf of the second appellant, the insurance company. The first appellant relied on medical report of Dr. Lobo, Chief of Orthopedics Department, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana about the injuries suffered by the respondent. At the trial, the defence of the first appellant was that the respondent was riding the cycle and abruptly tried to cross the road without giving any signal or indication that he was so doing and that the motor-cycle in spite of low speed and blowing of horn struck against the cycle and hence the injuries caused to the respondent. Under issue No. 1, the Tribunal held that the accident occurred due to negligent driving on the part of the first appellant. Under issue No. 2, it found that the appellant was entitled to compensation of Rupees 8,700. The third issue was not pressed.
5. Shri R. M. Suri appearing on behalf of the appellants had contended that on the basis of the evidence given, there is no justification for the first appellant being held guilty of negligent driving and that the quantum of compensation awarded is excessive.
6. In support of the fact of occurrence of the accident and default on the part of the first appellant, two eyewitnesses have supported the respondent. B. R. Nair A.W. 1 is Manager of the Branch of the State Bank of Patiala at Kapurthala. On the date of the occurrence, he was in Jullundur. Apa Jit Singh A.W. 3, the other eyewitness is Inspector of Excise and Taxation Department. He also states that he happened to pass by the road and saw the first appellant striking his motorcycle against the respondent and thereby causing injuries to him. Both these witnesses are of status, having not been shown in any way to be interested in or related to the respondent. Apa Jit Singh stated that although he was an Inspector in the same Department, in which the respondent was working, he had never worked as subordinate to him. Both these witnesses have consistently stated that the respondent had not actually left the margin of the road to cross the road but was on the margin with left foot on the kacha portion of the road. The width of the metalled portion of the road as admitted by the first appellant appearing as R.W. 1 is 60 to 65 feet. This shows that the first appellant had plenty of space of metalled portion of the road to avoid striking against the respondent, when the respondent happened to be on its margin and was not in the middle of the road. It has also been stated by both B. R. Nair and Apa Jit Singh A. Ws. that the motor-cycle was being driven by the first appellant at a high speed and that at the time the accident occurred, he neither cared to swerve his motor-cycle away from the margin, on which the respondent was standing not cared to blow the horn to warn the respondent nor applied brakes of the vehicle to stop it.
7. The respondent is the injured person. The occurrence took place at 10-45 a.m. His injuries were examined by Dr. Shingara Singh 45 minutes after the occurrence. It is admitted by the first appellant that the respondent received injuries as a result of the striking of his motorcycle against the cycle of the respondent. In spite of service, the first appellant did not care to file any written statement to precisely place before the Tribunal the pleas of his defence. In his testimony, the first appellant stated that it is on account of the respondent having abruptly chosen to cross the road that his motorcycle struck against the cycle of the respondent. He has stated that he was not at all driving the motorcycle at a high speed and that he had blown the horn. No further evidence in support of the circumstances as alleged by him, under which the accident is said to have occurred, has been given by him. There is no reason why the two independent witnesses produced by the respondent about the circumstances as alleged by him be not believed. In spite of lengthy cross-examination directed against them, no information was elicited to cast any doubt either about their presence or the veracity of the facts deposed to by them. On the basis of this evidence, I have no doubt that it is as a result of negligent driving on the part of the first appellant that the accident occurred and the injuries were caused to the respondent.
8. Now, I come to the quantum of compensation. Considering that the respondent is a gazetted officer and suffered not only from physical pain and mental worry because of the injuries at the ankle caused to him but has also suffered from physical disability of a permanent nature. This disability has affected enjoyment of normal life by him. He has been granted Rs.1500 on account of shock and pain for the past, present and future and has been awarded compensation of Rs.7,200 at the rate of Rs.50 per mensem for a period of 12 years on account of physical disability and loss of enjoyment of normal life. As already referred to, Dr. Shingara Singh found that both the ends of the tibia and fibula at the points where they join the ankle of the foot had been fractured. He found that injury to be grievous and gave the opinion that that fracture had caused him permanent disability. He assessed the extent of that disability to be 5 per cent. Even Dr. Lobo, whose medical report has been placed on the record at the instance of the appellant, certified that the nature of the injury suffered at the ankle by the respondent would cause him pain, when he would walk fast or run or climb stairs and had every chance of being of a permanent nature. Considering the medical opinions of the two doctors and the official status of the respondent being one of an officer and also taking into consideration the fact that his job carried with it the responsibility of touring an out-door official work, the amount of compensation awarded whether on account of physical pain and mental worry or on account of physical disability of a permanent character adversely affecting the efficient discharge of his official duties and the enjoyment of normal life is not excessive.
9. For the foregoing reasons, the appeal is disallowed with no order as to costs.
10. Appeal disallowed.