1.In an accident between a car (UPD-6196) coming from Pinjore to Chandigarh and a truck (PUP 1817) proceeding in the opposite direction, Shri Manohar Lal Choprs, Project Officer, Haryana Tourism Corporation, who was travelling in the car, received serious injuries to which he later succumbed on being brought to the hospital. This accident took place at about midnight on the night intervening May 28/29, 1975.
2. A claim for compensation was putforth by the widow and the six children of Shri Manohar Lal Chopra, deceased, against both the car driver as also the truck driver and their respective owners and Insurance Company, with which the vehicles had been insured. It was the finding of the Tribunal that the accident here had been caused by the negligence of both the car driver as also the truck driver. A sum of Rs. 30,110/- was awarded to the claimants as compensation with both the car driver, owner and Insurance Company as also the truck driver, owner and Insurance Company being held jointly and severally liable for the payment thereof.
3. Enhancement of the amount awarded as compensation is the claim putforth in appeal by the claimants; while the other matter which arises for determination in this appeal is with regard to the liability of the Insurance Company with which the car stood insured on the date of the accident.
4. It stands established from the evidence on record that Shri Manohar Lal Choprs, deceased was 45 years of age at the time of his death. He died leaving behind his widow Smt. Raj Chopra, who was about 43 years of age at the time of her husband's death and six children, three of whom were minors. The others being two married daughters and a serving son.
5. As has been mentioned earlier Shri Manohar Lal Chopra was Project Officer in Haryana Tourism Corporation. According to P.W. 5 Nigahi Ram Manager-cum-Accountant of the Reed Beer Bar, Pnachkula, the total emoluments of the deceased, when he was working in Haryana Tourism Corporation were Rs. 1046/50p; while his net pay after deductions was Rs. 729/- per month. P.W. 3 Shri D. N. Goyal, Accountant in the Rehabilitation Department, Haryana deposed that at the time of his death, Shri Manohar Lal Chopra's total emoluments were Rs. 1178/70P. This evidence would show that after deductions the amount that the deceased brought home little over Rs. 700/- per month. Part of the deduction made from his salary was on account of Provident Fund which of course constituted saving which would come to the estate of the deceased.
6. Compensation payable to the claimants has to be assessed keeping in view the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur (1979) 81 Punj LR 1: (AIR 1979 Punj & Har 50). The circumstances of the deceased namely, his age, employment and emoluments, being as set out above and the claimants being a young widow and three minor children besides three others, there is no escape from the conclusion that 16 is the appropriate multiplier to be applied here. Keeping the relevant imponderables in view as also the amount that the deceased would have spent upon himself out of his earnings, it would be fair and just to compute the loss at the rate of Rs. 7200/- per annum. So computed the compensation payable to the claimants would work out to Rs. 1,15,200/-.
7. Besides this, the claimants would also be entitled to Rs. 3000/- as funeral expenses which stands established by the unrebutted testimony of PW. 4 Smt. Raj Chopra. As a round figure, therefore, the claimants must be held entitled to a sum of Rs. 1,18,000/-.
8. A contention was raised by Mr. V. P. Gandhi, counsel for the Insurance Company, with which the truck had been insured that as Rs. 10,000/- had been paid to the claimants as ex gratia payment on account of this accident, this sum be deducted from the compensation payable. He sought to reply upon the judgment of the Full Bench in Bhagat Singh Sohan Singh v. Om Sharma 1983 Acc CJ 203 L (AIR 1983 Punj & Har 94). This authority lends no support for the proposition that such payment deserves to be deducted as claimed by the counsel for the Insurance Company.
On the contrary it provides otherwise. It being observed therein, 'sums of money paid as private or public benevolence, have on principle been rightly excluded because their benefactors could never intend that their munificence should go to the tortfeasor and not to the deceased victim or his dependants'. To buttress this position support was taken from what Lord Reid said in the House of Lords in Perry v. Cleaver. 1969 Acc CJ 363, 'It would be revolting to the ordinary man's sense of justice and therefore, contrary to public policy, that the sufferer should have his damages reduced so that he would gain nothing from the benevolence of his friends or relations or of the public at large, and that the only gainer would be the wrong doer......'
9. Turning next to the matter relating to the liability of the Insurance Company with which the car was insured, it is admitted that the insurer thereof was Ghanshyam Das Sharma, respondent 4. whereas its owner at the time of the accident was Padma Rani, respondent 7. There is no evidence on record to connect the driver of the car with respondent Ghanshyam Dass RW. 2 Jasbir Singh, who had been driving the car at that time deposed that the car was owned by his friend Balwant Singh, but there is no evidence on record to corroborate this statement. this being the position the Insurance Company with which the car had been insured namely United India Fire and General Insurance Company Limited cannot be held liable for payment of any compensation in this case, nor for that matter respondent 4 Ghanshyam Dass Sharma. The liability in respect of the blame falling upon the car must thus fall upon the car driver Jasbir Singh, respondent 6 and Padma Rani, respondent 7, the owner thereof.
10. In the result the compensation awarded to the claimants is enhanced to Rs. 1,18,000/- which they shall be entitled to along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of the application to the date of the payment of the amount awarded. Half of the amount awarded shall be paid to the widow and the remaining half in equal shares to the three minor children of the deceased.
11. The drivers and owners of both the car and the truck involved in the accident shall be jointly and severally liable for payment of the amount awarded as compensation to the claimants. They shall, of course, be entitled to contribution against each other in respect of the amount actually recovered from them by the claimants, if the amount paid is in excess of their share of blame of the accident. The liability of the Insurance Company with which the truck was insured shall, however, be limited to Rs. 50,000/-.
12. Both the appeal as also the cross objections filed by the respondent--United India Assurance Company Limited are hereby accepted. the appellants shall be entitled to costs of these proceedings. Counsel's fee Rs. 500/-.
13. Appeal allowed.