1. On 22nd October, 1979, an accident took place between truck No. PUH 2682 and Car No. CH 1995. Gian Singh was travelling in the car, who as a result of the accident died. The photographs of the damaged car on the record go to show that it was head on collision of the two vehicles coming from the opposite direction in which the car was totally smashed and, it was difficult for an. occupant of the car to survive. The widow, children and the mother of Gian Singh filed claim petition before the Motor Accident claims Tribunal, which was contested by the owner of the truck as also by M/s New India Assurance Co. Ltd., with whom the truck was insured.
2. On the contest of the parties, the matter came up for consideration before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal as to 'whether the driver of the truck was negligent or the driver of the car and in case it was found that the driver of the truck was negligent, what compensation was payable and by whom.'
3. After evidence was led the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal by an elaborate award dated 2nd December 1982 came to the conclusion that it was the driver of the truck who was negligent in driving the same, as a result of which it truck the car coming from the opposite direction. As regards the quantum of compensation, it came to the conclusion that the legal representatives were entitled to Rupees 360,000/-. It was found that the deceased was providing Rupees 2,000/- per month to his family members and applied the multiplier of 15 years and in this manner the compensation of Rs 3,60,000 was awarded. As regards the liability, it was held that the Insurance Company was liable to Day Rupees 150,000/- as under the policy the insured had paid additional premium for the enhanced liability of the company. For the balance amount liability was fixed of the owner and driver of the truck jointly and severally. 10, r interest per annum was also allowed on the amount of compensation from the date of filing the petition till realization.
4. Against the aforesaid award only the owner of the truck has come to this Court in appeal.
5. Counsel appearing for the truck owner has fairly conceded at the bar that no reasonable argument can be raised against the finding of the Tribunal that it was truck driver, who was negligent. He further concedes that on the basis of the evidence, no reasonable arguments can be raised against the reasoning of the Tribunal. Accordingly, I uphold the finding of the Tribunal thus it was the driver of the truck who was negligent, due.to which Gian Singh occupier of the car died.
6. Again no argument was raised as the quantum of compensation. The learned counsel could not question the finding of the Court below that Rs. 2000/- per month was being spent by the deceased on his family members. Again it could not be shown that the multiplier of 15 years applied by the Court below was erroneous. Accordingly the quantum of Rs. 3,80,000/- is also upheld.
7. The only argument raised before me was that the tribunal was in error in concluding that the liability of the Assurance Company was only up to Rs. 1,50,000/-. In this behalf he has invited my attention to the Insurance policy Exhibit R-3 on the record along with schedule of the motor tariff. A look at the insurance policy Exhibit R-3 shows that additional premium of Rs. 39/- Was paid be the owner of the truck while getting the same insured. It is also mentioned under the figure of Rs. 39/-,. 'increased'. Hut Underneath, against the liability for injury. it is not mentioned that the liability is unlimited. Instead there is a rubber stamp containing the following words:
'Such amount as is necessary to meet the requirements under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.' '
The copy of the insurance policy is Exhibit R-3 on the record and the original was with the counsel for the appellant. The same was also in the same term, Due to payment of additional premium, of Rs. 39/- reliance is placed on the tariff contained in the India Motor Tariffs. prepared by the Tariff Advisory Committee. at page 120 of the book, which reads as follows:
'(b) Class A (2) Vehicle Vehicles Unlimited personal injury................ Additional premium Rs. 39 Rs. 1.50.000/- property damage. Unlimited personal injury Additional Premium Rs. 64/- Rs. 3,00,000/- property property damage.............
Since Rs. 39/- were paid as the additional premium, the argument raised is that for personal injury, there was unlimited liability of the Insurance Company. Th aforesaid argument on behalf of the owner of the truck is refuted by Shri L. M. Suri, appearing.for the Insurance Company and he argued that the tariff in only a guideline and is neither statutory nor binding on the Insurance Company. The Insurance Company is entitled to enter into any contract with the insured, and the parties would be bound by the terms of the contract. In elaborating the arguments, he has invited my attention to para 2 on page 2 of the book which is in the following terms:
'2. Policy forms: It is not permissible to issue policies except in the Standard Forms provided in the Tariffs. Insurers are, however, entitled,without obtaining permission. the Miscellaneous Sub-Committee concerned, to restrict the cover under the Standard Comprehensive Policy Forms without reduction in premium or to increase the premium for the same or less cover. With this exception, no Company may alter or extend in the slightest degree the Standard Cover, Terms and Conditions of Policies otherwise than as laid down in the Tariff without first obtaining the written authority to do so from the Miscellaneous.Sub-Committee of the Region concerned.'
8. From a reading of the above quotation he urges that his stand is fortified from the aforesaid quotation because the Insurance Company was entitled to restrict the cover under the Standard Comprehensive Policy Form without reduction in premium or by increasing the premium. That is what was done in the present case, On payment of additional premium, the liability with regard to the second item namely damage to property was enhanced from statutory liability of Rs. 2,000/- to Rs. 1,50,000/-, which was specifically mentioned in the policy but the statutory liability of Rs. 50,000/with regard to injury was not enhanced and that is why, it was restricted to meet the requirements under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.
9. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, I am of the view that it cannot be said that under the policy, the Insurance Company had burdened itself with unlimited liability for injury or death, about the accident based', by the insured vehicle. If the tariff relied.; upon had the statutory force then certainly, on the basis of payment of additional premium of Rs, 39/- it would be said that:here was unlimited liability of the Insurance Company. The counsel for the owner of the truck as also the claimants have failed to show that the tariff is either statutory or has binding force on the Insurance Company: On the contrary a reading of para 2 at page 2 of the India Motor Tariffs Book, I find that as insurance company can restrict the policy covers in spite of reduction or increase in the premium in terms of para 2. That being so, one has to fall back upon the policy itself. A look at the policy does not show that the liability was unlimited.
10. Faced with this situation, the counsel for the owner of the truck wanted to read the words 'such amount as is necessary to respect the requirements under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939'; to mean that' whatever `amount is awarded-by the Tribunal, the amount will have to be necessarily met by the Insurance Company under the Act. This would not be a correct reading of these words. These words on the fact of it go to show. that. whatever is required to be paid under the Motor Vehicles Act, such amount will be met by the Insurance Company. Under the Act, there is limited liability of the Insurance Company up to Rs. 50,000/-, which limit can be varied under the terms of the contract'. No variance has been provided in the terms of the contract.
11. It was then urged that under the Act, the liability of the Insurance Company was limited up to Rs, 50,000/-, whereas the Tribunal fixed the liability of the Insurance Company up to Rupees 1,50,000/- and since the Insurance Company did not challenge that liability, it should 'be deemed that liability of the Insurance Company was unlimited, I am unable to spell out any such inference from the decision of the Tribunal. At the relevant time, when the accident took place S. 95 (2)(a) limited the liability of the Insurance Company to Rs. 50,0011/-, which was enhanced by Act No. 47 of 1982 with effect from Ist' October, 1982 to Rs. 1,50,000/-. It appears that the Tribunal took notice of the amended provision and fixed the liability of the Insurance Company to Rs. 1,50,000/-. The wrong fixation of liability by the Tribunal would not mean that the liability became unlimited. If Insurance Company had filed appeal or counter claim. the decision of the Tribunal would have been modified and their liability would have been fixed at Rs. 50.000/-. Since Insurance Company allowed the decision of the Tribunal to become final against it, now the liability if the Insurance Company cannot be reduced.
12. For the reasons recorded above, this appeal is devoid of merit and is dismissed with costs.
13. Appeal dismissed.