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Agya Kaur and ors. Vs. General Manager, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, Patiala and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 597 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1980P& H183
AppellantAgya Kaur and ors.
RespondentGeneral Manager, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, Patiala and ors.
Cases ReferredBishan Devi v. Sirbaksh Singh
Excerpt:
..... the principle of working out the suitable multiplier with which annual dependency be multiplied and capital amount arrived at appears to be the only just and reasonable method because the same takes into consideration not only the age of the victim, but also the ages of the dependents and all uncertainties of life both in the realm of enhancement in the income as well as factors justifying deduction in the amount of compensation'.on the basis of consideration of various aspects. --(5). the compensation cannot be assessed on the basis of the so-called interest theory as the same provides the dependents with the capital as well as the amount of annual loss earned by way of interest and it also suffers from a number of other defects, as have been discussed in this judgment':in view of the..........only concerned with the claim for compensation made by the widow and three minor children of ravel singh rickshaw-puller.2. the motor accident claims tribunal, patiala (hereinafter referred to as the tribunal), by judgment dated 2lst of august, 1974, found that ravel singh was 35 years of age and could live for another 35 years as the span of life now-a-days was 70 years. it was also found that as a rickshaw-puller be was earning enough to contribute at last rs. 1,000/- per annum to his family and on this basis the tribunal arrived at a figure of rs. 35,000/- which his family suffered on account of his death. since he was carrying more than two passengers in his rickshaw, the tribunal was of the opinion that for this illegal act on his part, a deduction of 25% from the total compensation.....
Judgment:

G.C. Mital, J.

1. Bus No PNT5985, owned by the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, Patiala, was being driven by Darshan Singh driver on 2nd of July, 1971, from Patiala to Chandigarh At about 4-30 P. M., within the municipal limits of Rajpura town, while the bus was running at a fast speed, it struck against a rickshaw coming from the opposite direction. The rickshaw was being driven by Ravel Singh on his correct side, in which he was carrying three ladies and a child. After striking the rickshaw, the bus struck against an electric pole and came to halt. Only the child survived and all others died as a result of the injuries caused due to the accident. In this appeal, we are only concerned with the claim for compensation made by the widow and three minor children of Ravel Singh rickshaw-puller.

2. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Patiala (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal), by judgment dated 2lst of August, 1974, found that Ravel Singh was 35 years of age and could live for another 35 years as the span of life now-a-days was 70 years. It was also found that as a rickshaw-puller be was earning enough to contribute at last Rs. 1,000/- per annum to his family and on this basis the Tribunal arrived at a figure of Rs. 35,000/- which his family suffered on account of his death. Since he was carrying more than two passengers in his rickshaw, the Tribunal was of the opinion that for this illegal act on his part, a deduction of 25% from the total compensation was justified although a definite finding was given that Ravel Singh was not guilty of contributory negligence. In this way a total compensation of Rs. 26,250/- was awarded to the widow and three minor children. Against the aforesaid decision of the Tribunal, the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation filed an appeal in this Court and a learned single Judge on appraisal of evidence, came to the conclusion that the driver of the bus was guilty of negligence and that there was no contributory negligence on the part of the rickshaw-puller: It was also found that the mere fall that the rickshaw-puller contravened some by laws of the municipal committee in allowing more than two passengers to sit in his rickshaw did not justify in lacy the making of 25% deduction as was done by the Tribunal when he was not guilty of any contributory negligence. As regards the award of the compensation it was held that Ravel Singh was contributing Rs. 100/- per mensem to his family and this much of amount could be provided to the claimants by award of lump sum compensation of Rs. 12,000/-. The learned single Judge was of the opinion that by prudent investment in some scheduled bank Rs. 100/- per mensem should be earned as interest on the aforesaid lamp sum amount and on this basis allowed Rs. 12,000/- for restoring the pecuniary benefit to the deceased's wife and three minor children. Besides the above, Rs 2,000/- were allowed on account of pain and agony suffered by the claimants due to death of Ravel Singh. In this manner, a total sum of Rs. 14,000/- was awarded to the heirs of Ravel Singh. Feeling dissatisfied with the decision of the learned single Judge, the heirs of Ravel Singh have come up in appeal under clause X of the Letters patent.

3. The learned counsel for the claimants has urged that the view of the learned single Judge is contrary to the Full Bench Judgment of this Court in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur, 1979-81 Punj LR 1. While highlighting the argument, it is urged that although nothing could be allowed for pain and agony the method of lamp sum payment and deduction from compensation on that account is wholly opposed to the aforesaid Full Bench decision.

4. We find merit in the contention of the learned counsel for the claimants as his stand is borne out from the Ful1 Bench decision referred to above. Dealing with the point in issue the Full Bench in para 24 of its judgment, was of the following opinion:--

'That is why, in some cases, the method of making some percentage of deduction from the lump sum so arrived at, was adopted, but the same is too arbitrary and vague to serve the purpose of award of just compensation. The principle of working out the suitable multiplier with which annual dependency be multiplied and capital amount arrived at appears to be the only just and reasonable method because the same takes into consideration not only the age of the victim, but also the ages of the dependents and all uncertainties of life both in the realm of enhancement in the income as well as factors justifying deduction in the amount of compensation'. On the basis of consideration of various aspects. the answer of the Full Bench in this regard is contained in conclusion No. (5), which is also useful to be reproduced below:--

'(5). The compensation cannot be assessed on the basis of the so-called interest theory as the same provides the dependents with the capital as well as the amount of annual loss earned by way of interest and it also suffers from a number of other defects, as have been discussed in this judgment':

In view of the aforesaid. two passages from. the Full Bench, we are of the opinion that the learned single Judge was in error in awarding compensation of Rs. 12,000/- on lump sum basis. The learned single Judge has found on evidence that the deceased was contributing Rs. 1,200/- per annum to his family and this finding, apart from the fact that it is not open to challenge in letters patent appeal, has not been shown to be erroneous by the counsel for the Corporation, However, the counsel for the Corporation:has urged that the Tribunal was right in making a deduction of 25% as the deceased was guilty of contributory negligence by the mere fact of making more than two persons to sit in. his rickshaw which was not permissible under the by laws of the municipal committee. We are not impressed with the argument. If the deceased had been guilty of contributory negligence due to which the accident had occurred, certainly some deduction would have been permissible, as has been done in some cases, but in the present case it is not disputed that the rickshaw was being driven on 'its correct side and the bus went to its wrong side at a high speed and after striking the rickshaw, struck against an electric pole on the wrong side. From these facts alone, on the English principle of res ipsa loquitur, which has been accepted as correct even by the Supreme Court the only permissible inference was that the driver of the bus: alone was guilty of negligence due to which the accident occurred. Even if the rickshaw was without a passenger or with one or two passengers, on the given facts the accident would not have been avoided and, therefore, the mere fact that the deceased was carrying three adults and a child would be no ground to. make any deduction in the award of compensation. Accordingly, we overrule the stand taken by the counsel for the Corporation to make 25% deduction merely on the ground that the rickshaw was allowed to be occupied by the deceased be more than two passengers.

5. The next argument raised on behalf of the Corporation is that even if the rule of multiplier to the annual dependency of Rs. 1,200/- is to be applied in this case, since it has been found by the Tribunal that the deceased was 35 years of age, a multiplier of four only deserves to be applied as in Lachhman Singh's case (supra),. where the deceased was of 23 years, a multiplier of 16 was applied. We are not impressed with this contention either. A reading of the Full Bench case does not show what is being urged before us. In that case, the deceased happened to be of 23 years of age but while considering the suitable multiplier, it was noticed in the last part of para 24 as follows:--

'For the purpose of determining this multiplier, no exact and mathematical ceiculation can be provided. The English Courts have held in some cases that 16 times multiplier was quite sound and reasonable. The Supreme Court has gone further and in one case even 20 times was considered to be a suitable multiplier'.

Therefore, it will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case as to what would be the reasonable multiplier and no hard and fast rule was laid down by the Full Bench nor is possible to be laid as it will be a matter of proof of the relevant factors in each case No material has been brought on record in this case for not applying the multiplier of 16, which was found to be reasonable by the Full Bench on the facts of that case. In the Full Bench case, the deceased was an agricultural labourer and in his case the multiplier of 16 was held to be reasonable. In the present case, the deceased was a rickshaw-puller and we see no reason for not granting the multiplier of 16 to his dependents.

6. In the latest decision of the Supreme Court, in Bishan Devi v. Sirbaksh Singh, AIR 1979, SC 1862, compensation of Rs. 20,000/- was awarded to the widow and four children of a Patwari who had died in the accident. In that ease it was found that he was contributing Rs. 100/- per mensem for the household.

7. For the reasons given above, applying the multiplier of 16 to the annual dependency of Rs. 1,200/- we award the compensation of Rs. 19,200/- to the appellants. Since, according to the Full Bench decision nothing is payable for love and affection, no amount can be awarded on that account as was done by the learned. single Judge.

8. In the result, we allow this appeal with costs throughout (counsel's fee being Rs. 200/- in this Court), modify the judgment of the learned single Judge and enhance the compensation payable to the appellants to Rs. 19,200/- on which the appellants would be entitled to interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum from the date of filing of their application for compensation before the Tribunal till payment.

S.S. Sandhawalia, C.J.

9. I agree.

10. Appeal allowed.


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