1. The claimant Rupinder Singh was taking his young nieces Simrat Jot and Mandeep Jot to School when the truck DHG--3417 coiming from the opposite direction hit into his scooter. In the resultant accident both the children were killed while Rupinder Singh sustained injuries. It was the finding of the Tribunal that this accident had been caused entirely due to the rash and negligent driving of the truck-driver. A sum of Rs. 3,000/- was awarded as compensation to Rupinder Singh for the injuries caused to him. No compensation was, however, awarded to the parents of the two young girls, as it was held that it had not been shown that they had suffered any pecuniary loss on account of the death of their children, including a claim for enhanced compensation in the case off claimant Rupinder Singh.
2. The material on record would show that when on the date of the accident, Rupinder Singh was examined by P.W. 4 Dr. Pramodh Kumar Kohli of the Post Graduate Institute, Chandigarh, he was found to have six injuries on his person. These being:
1. Closed head injury.
2. Blunt trauma to the abdomen.
3. Abrasion on the back.
4. Lacerated wound in front of right leg.
5. Two punctured wound front of left thigh.
6. Abrasion front of left leg.
3. Next to note is the certificate exhibit P.5 issued by Dr. K. K. Mahajan, who operated upon Rupinder Singh during his stay in the hospital. According to this Certificate, the operation revealed a perforation in the duodenal and free blood in the peritoneal cavity. The perforation was over-sewn. There were no other internal injuries. According to the certificate, Rupinder Singh remained admitted in the hospital from Nov. 25, 1978 to Dec. 8, 1978.
4. Turning now to the statement of the claimant. P.W. 5 Rupinder Singh, it will be seen that according to his testimony he developed some post-operation problems and had to be admitted to the Post Graduate institute again for another 12 days.
5. Mr. Ujagar Singh appearing for the claimant Rupinder Singh claimed compensation under three main heads. These being; loss of business. cost of medical treatment and compensation for general damages meaning thereby pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life. It deserves mention at the very out-set that except the bald statement of the claimant, there is no evidence on record to show the extent of the loss of business, if any, that the claimant suffered on account of this accident or of the amount spent by him on his medical treatment. In this situation, no interference with the amounts awarded by the Tribunal, under these heads, would indeed been warranted. The Tribunal had awarded Rs. 1,000/- for medical expenses and Rs. 2,000/- for loss of business.,
6. The Tribunal, I however, clearly felt in error in making no award for pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life which the claimant undoubtedly had to endure on account of his injuries. Considering the nature and extent of the injuries suffered by him, the operation he had to undergo and the duration of his consequent disabilities, it would be fair and just to hold him entitled to a sum of Rs. 12,000/- on this account. In other words, the total compensation payable to the claimant Rupinder Singh deserves to be enhanced to Rs. 15,000/-.
7. Taking up now the claim for compensation put forth by the parents of the two minor children, killed in this accident, the evidence on record would show that Simrat Jot deceased was only about 8 years of age at the time of her death, while her younger sister Mandeep Jot was only 4 years old at that time. P.W. 3 Balbir Singh, their father was 38 years old when this accident occurred.
8. It is well settled that parents do have legitimate expectation of financial support from their children particularly in their old age when their children are gainfully employed. Further it is indeed a fallacy to assume that merely because the deceased happens to be minor girl, her parents would not be entitled to compensation. Courts cannot in this behalf lose sight of the fact that girls in ever increasing numbers are taking up employment and that too in almost all fields. Marriage is, no doubt, the natural aspiration of young girls and it is also true that after marriage they go into their husband's family, but according to the social norms, that have now emerged, it would be wrong to assume that a woman gainfully employed would not extend financial support to her parents, if they be in need. Parents cannot, therefore, be denied compensation merely on the ground that the deceased was their daughter and not a son.
The compensation payable to the parents would, of course, depend upon various factors like age and health of the minor child as also that of her parents, their position and status in life, both in the context of their expectations from their child as also what they would have provided to the child in her up-bringing and education and what consequently the child could be expected to make of herself in life and what the cost thereof would have been to her parents. There are also the other imponderables too as set-forth in Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur, (1989) 81 Pun LR 1: (AIR 1979 Punj & Har 50) in so far as they are relevant in dealing with the matter relating to compensation payable to the parents in respect of the death of their minor children.
9. In the present case, it will be seen that Simrat Jot and Mandeep Jot were the only two children of their parents. Further, it was the unrebutted testimony of the father P.W. 3 Balbir Singh that his wife was not capable of having any other child on account of the operation that she had undergone. This is indeed a matter of material significance here. Further, it deserves note that both the children were studying in a Nursery School and from a young age. The father himself was employed in the Army. Taking an overall view of the circumstances of the claimants and the deceased, in the context of the relevant factors as discussed earlier, it would be fair and just to hold them entitled to a sum of Rs. 35,000/- on account of the death of their two daughters.
10. The parents of the two deceased are accordingly hereby awarded a sum of Rs. 35,000/- (Rupees thirty five thousand only) as compensation while the compensation payable to the claimant Rupinder Singh is hereby enhanced to Rs. 15,000/-.
11. The claimants shall be entitled to the compensation awarded along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum form the date of the application to the date of the payment of the amount awarded.
12. The liability for the amount awarded shall be that of respondent-Jaswant Singh.
13. In the result, both the appeals are hereby accepted with costs. Counsel fee Rs. 500/- (One set only).
14. Appeal allowed.