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Chanan Singh Vs. Tara Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.F.O. No. 149 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1980P& H267
ActsMotor Vehicles Act - Sections 110
AppellantChanan Singh
RespondentTara Singh and ors.
Cases Referred and Ram Kishan v. Secretary Transport Punjab Government
Excerpt:
.....of the said order. - 4. according to shri sarhadi, learned advocate general, the decision of the learned single judge does not lay down good law and reliance was placed on haryana state v. the claim relating to the buffaloes was declined, holding that the claimant had failed to prove their price......power to grant compensation even regarding damage to property, but by this provision right to claim compensation by the injured persons or the claimants of the deceased was. not created. such a right exists under the lam of torts. the only change brought about by section 110 is that in place of civil court, another forum of a summary jurisdiction is brought into existence to adjudicate cases of claims. this being a matter of procedure, it was rightly held in the abovementioned judgment and in unique motor and general insurance company's case (supra) that if the tribunal had the jurisdiction to adjudicate the claims of compensation regarding damage to property at the time of the decision, it as within its jurisdiction to do so though that the time the claim petition was filed such a.....
Judgment:

1. Vide my order dated Oct. 25, 1979 I had allowed the appeal of the claimant and awarded compensation for Rs. 1,250/- for the injuries caused to him arising out of the accident. The claim regarding damages due to the death of the two bullocks and damage to the cart was, however, declined on the ground that the claim petition. regarding he same was not maintainable before the Tribunal under Section 110 of the Act as in force at the time of the accident. In fact, the learned counsel for the appellant had also conceded the proposition of lam in this regard. The said judgment was dictated in Court. However, a little time later Shri H. S. Sangha, learned counsel for the appellant met me in the chamber and brought to my notice judgment of Bhopinder Singh Dhillon, J. reported as Union of India v. Bakhtawar Singh, 1978-80 Pun LR 558 according to which, the Tribunal was within its jurisdiction to allow compensation as regards the damage to the property even in those cases where the accident had taken place before the amendment of S. 110(1) of the Act. Consequently and in the interest of justice, I have reheard arguments on this point.

2. Section 110(1) of the Act is to the following effect:--

110. Claims Tribunal.--(1) A State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute one or more Motors Accidents Claims Tribunals (hereinafter referred to as Claims Tribunals) for such area as may be specified in the notification for the purpose of adjudicating upon claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles or damages to any property of a third party so arising, or both:

Provided that where such claim includes a claim for compensation in respect of damage to property exceeding rupees two thousand the claimant may; at his option, refer the claim to a civil Court for adjudication and where a reference is so made, the Claims Tribunal shall have no jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to such claim.

The words 'or damages to any property of a third party so arising or both' were added by the amending Act 56 of 1969 with effect from Mar. 2, 1970 Thus, in the present case at the time of the accident which took place on. Mar. 26, 1969, the Tribunal constituted under S. l10 by the State Government, as mentioned above, was not vested with the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the claims for compensation regarding damages to property. However, at the time the Tribunal passed. the orders under appeal it had undisputedly been vested with the jurisdiction in this regard. Relying on a Division Bench judgment of this Court in Unique Motor and General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Kartar Singh, AIR 1965 Punj 102 and some other cases the learned single Judge in Bakhtawar Singh's case (supra) held as under:--

'But fact remains that the Tribunal processed the claim regarding the damage of the property which claim was made in the application and when the said claim was tried, the Tribunal had the jurisdiction to do so. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal has rightly placed reliance on a Division Bench decision of this Court in Unique Motor and General Insurance Co. Ltd., Bombay v. Kartar Singh V. C. K. Bus Service (P) Ltd., Coimbatore v H. B. Sethna, (AIR 1965 Mad 149), Joshi Rotansi Gopaji v. Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation, (1968 Acc CJ 338 (Guj)) and Palani Ammal v. State Service Ltd., (1966 Acc CJ 19 (Mad)). It has been held in the abovementioned judgments that the trial of the claim is at the most a procedural matter. Even thou the Tribunal had no jurisdiction when the cause of action took place still if no such claim has been preferred before the civil Court and subsequently the jurisdiction was vested in the Tribunal, it had the jurisdiction to try the claim even. though the cause of action arose when the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to try the same. A single Bench decision of his Court in Mulak Raj Bhola Shah v. Northern India Goods Transport Ltd., (AIR 1962 Punj 307) was reversed by a Division Bench of this Court in Unique Motor and General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Kartar Singh. The contention that the period of limitation for filing the claim before the Tribunal was sixty days whereas the limitation for filing a claim before the civil Court being one year and, therefore the accident which took place before the Tribunal was vested with the jurisdiction could be tried by civil Court only was repelled as it was observed that the Tribunal had the jurisdiction even to, extend the period of limitation in given set of circumstances. It would thus be seen that there is no merit in the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to try the claim regarding the damages to property. The finding of the Tribunal on issue No. 3 is also affirmed....'

3. There is no doubt that under S. 110 of the Act the State Government by constituting the Tribunal only brought into existence the forum other than the civil Court to try and adjudicate upon the claims regarding compensation in the matter of accidents resulting in injury to the person or in death. After Mar. 2, 1970, the said Tribunals were also clothed with another additional power to grant compensation even regarding damage to property, but by this provision right to claim compensation by the injured persons or the claimants of the deceased was. not created. Such a right exists under the Lam of Torts. The only change brought about by Section 110 is that in place of civil Court, another forum of a summary jurisdiction is brought into existence to adjudicate cases of claims. This being a matter of procedure, it was rightly held in the abovementioned judgment and in Unique Motor and General Insurance Company's case (supra) that if the Tribunal had the jurisdiction to adjudicate the claims of compensation regarding damage to property at the time of the decision, it as within its jurisdiction to do so though that the time the claim petition was filed such a jurisdiction was lacking. I am in entire agreement with the ratio of the decision referred to above.

4. According to Shri Sarhadi, learned Advocate General, the decision of the learned single Judge does not lay down good law and reliance was placed on Haryana State v. Pusa Ram, 1977-79 Pun LR 741; B. S. Nat v. Bishan Singh, 1971-73 Pun LR 18; and Ram Kishan v. Secretary Transport Punjab Government, 1978-80 Pun LR 567. In B. S. Nat's case (supra) a plaint in a suit for the recovery of Rupees 2,000/- as compensation for the loss and damage to his car in a motor accident was filed in civil Court. The same was returned by the trial Subordinate Judge under O. 7, R. 10 Civil P. C. for presentation to the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, holding that the civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain such a claim. This order was challenged in appeal in the High Court. The learned single Judge, hearing the appeal referred the matter to a larger Bench. The Division Bench set aside the order and directed the trial Subordinate Judge to enter upon the suit and to dispose of the same on merits. A perusal of this judgment shows that the question whether in such a case the Tribunal also could adjudicate on the matter, or not was not argued, nor was it considered by the Division Bench. The Division Bench came to the conclusion that as the accident had taken place before the amendment of S. 110 of the Act, the claim could be filed before the civil Court. It had no occasion to consider the question as to if the claim petition had been filed before the Tribunal and at the time of decision, it had the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the same whether the Tribunal would have been within its jurisdiction to decide the matter, or not. Haryana State's case (supra) has no bearing on the controversy in hand. In the said case five buffaloes of the Progeny Testing Farm Hissar had been killed in an accident on account of the rash and negligent driving of a truck by a driver. The State of Haryana filed a petition for compensation in lieu of the damage to the said buffaloes before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. The question for consideration was whether the Tribunal had jurisdiction to try such a claim petition under S. 110(1) of the Act when the claim related to damage to pro simpliciter without any injuries having been caused to the person. In view of the provisions of S. 110(A), it was held that such a claim wag maintainable before the Tribunal which had the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the same. In Ram Kishan's case (supra) a claim petition for compensation on account of the death of some buffaloes in an accident was filed before the Tribunal. Some compensation was also claimed on account of the injures on the person of the claimant. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that no injury to the person of the claimant had been proved. The claim relating to the buffaloes was declined, holding that the claimant had failed to prove their price. The accident had admittedly taken place much before the amendment under Section 110(1) of the Act. The learned single Judge held as under:--

'Held, that it is true that the buffaloes of the appellant died on account of accident. It is, however, a settled proposition that no damages can be awarded to a claimant on account of loss of the property in a claim petition under S. 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act. In case the appellant wanted damages on account of the death of the buffaloes, he should have sought his relief before an appropriate court. The Tribunal under the Act could not grant damages to him in this regard.' It is evident from a close perusal of this judgment that no argument was addressed on the question which arises in the present case. From the discussion of the cases, referred to above, there is no doubt in my mind that the Tribunal had the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the claim of the appellant regarding compensation in lieu of the damage to the properly of the claimant. This being the undoubted position of law, I consider it a fit case to review my previous order dated Oct. 25, 1979 so far as the question relating to the ant of compensation on account of damage to the property namely the bullocks and the cart of the claimant-appellant is concerned.

5. On merits, according to the statement of Chanan Singh claimant appellant (P.W. 11), his two bullocks attached to the cart had received injuries in the said accident, one of them died on the third day and the other died after some days of the occurrence. His cart was also damaged. He suffered a loss of Rs. 2,000/- on account of the damage to the cart which had been completely broken. His one bullock was worth Rs. 2,200/- and the other worth Rs 2,000/-. He also produced 2 receipts Ex. AW11/A and AW11/B which disclosed that he had purchased two bullocks for the said amount. However, no person was produced as a witness from whom these animals had been purchased. Nor did he produce any evidence except his bald statement regarding the damage to the cart. According to the depositions of Budh Singh Sarpanch (PW7) of the village, he had been shown one bullock on the 3rd/4th day of the accident by the claimant which had died. A few days thereafter, he was again called to see the death of another bullock. According to him, the value of the two bullocks was about Rs. 1,500/- or Rs. 1,600/-. Regarding the value of the bullocks, the statement of this witness was not challenged in cross-examination in any manner. Dr. Sham Shankar (AW3) had examined one bullock on Mar. 27, 1969 when the same was brought to him by a Police Constable. According to his examination, both the horns were broken and were hanging loose; there was a fracture of right side of ilium and the last lumbar vertebra seemed to be broken at the right transverse process. In his opinion, the said injuries were due to a severe accident and the bullocks had been carried to him on a cart. It was also opined by him that there could not be any treatment as the vertebra had been broken. In rebuttal only Avtar Singh (RW1) was examined who did not make any statement with regard to the damage to the cart or the injuries to the bullocks in his examination-in-chief. However, in cross-examination, he has stated that the cart had not been damaged and the price of the bullocks was Rs. 500/- or so. In view of the above evidence, it is legitimate to conclude that both the bullocks of the claimant had died as a result of the accident and that the price of the same was not less than Rs. 1,500/- as stated by Budh Singh Sarpanch (AW7). The claimant is, thus, entitled to this amount as compensation on account of the damage to the two bullocks. However, he is not entitled to any amount regarding the damage to the cart in the absence of any satisfactory evidence relating thereto. Consequently, in addition to the amount of Rs. 1,250/- as compensation due to the injuries caused to the claimant, it is held that he will also be entitled to the sum of Rs. 1 500/- as compensation on account of the death of the two bullocks in the accident. He will also be entitled to interest at 6 per cent per annum from the date of the application till payment.

6. Order accordingly.


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