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Smt. Chhano Devi and ors. Vs. Shri Het Ram and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 299 of 1979
Judge
Reported in[1986]59CompCas941(P& H)
ActsEvidence Act, 1872 - Sections 77 and 80
AppellantSmt. Chhano Devi and ors.
RespondentShri Het Ram and ors.
Appellant Advocate B.S. Shant, Adv.
Respondent Advocate L.M. Suri, Adv.
Cases ReferredBhaiyashbir Chand v. Smt. Bachan Kaur
Excerpt:
.....sections 80 (2) & 89 & punjab motor vehicles rules, 1989, rules 85 & 80: [t.s. thakur, cj, jasbir singh & surya kant, jj] appeal against orders of state or regional transport authority imitation held, a stipulation regarding the period of limitation available for invoking the remedy shall have to be strictly construed. that is because any provision by way of limitation is in the nature of a restraint on the remedy provided under the act. so viewed two inferences are clear viz., (1) sections 80 and 89 of the act read with rule 85 of the rules make it obligatory for the authorities making the order to communicate it to the applicant concerned and (2) the period of limitation for any appeal against the order is reckonable from the date of such communication of the reasons would imply..........by truck no. hrk-6955 on hissar-tohana road at 4 p.m. onmay 15, 1975. the judgment of the learned single judge dated september 10, 1979, in f.a.o. no. 30 of 1977 is impugned in these appeals, in which the prayer is for enhancement of compensation allowed in the case. the third appeal is by het ram and nathu ram, driver and owner, respectively, of the truck in question in which the judgment of the learned single judge is impugned with a prayer that the compensation awarded in the case should be ordered to be paid by the insurance company, respondent in the appeal, which had been absolved of its responsibility.2. the matter having already received attention in two forums, i.e., motor accidents claims tribunal (hereinafter referred to as 'the tribunal'), and the learned single judge, only.....
Judgment:

Surinder Singh, J.

1. This judgment will dispose of Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 299 and 300 of 1979 and Letters Patent Appeal No. 251 of 1979. The first two appeals, which are in fact a duplication, have been filed on behalf of the claimants, Chhano Devi and others, the legal representatives of the deceased, Constable Kanwar Singh, who died in an accident caused by truck No. HRK-6955 on Hissar-Tohana road at 4 p.m. onMay 15, 1975. The judgment of the learned single judge dated September 10, 1979, in F.A.O. No. 30 of 1977 is impugned in these appeals, in which the prayer is for enhancement of compensation allowed in the case. The third appeal is by Het Ram and Nathu Ram, driver and owner, respectively, of the truck in question in which the judgment of the learned single judge is impugned with a prayer that the compensation awarded in the case should be ordered to be paid by the insurance company, respondent in the appeal, which had been absolved of its responsibility.

2. The matter having already received attention in two forums, i.e., Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as 'the Tribunal'), and the learned single judge, only a brief reference to the facts would suffice. As already noticed, Constable Kanwar Singh died as a result of the accident with the truck No. HRK-6955 of which Het Ram was admittedly the driver while Nathu Ram was the owner of the vehicle. After striking the necessary issues and recording the evidence produced by the parties, the Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs. 18,000 in favour of the claimants and against Het Ram and Nathu Ram. The learned single judge dismissed the appeal filed by the claimants but the appeal filed by the driver and the owner of the truck (F.A.O. No. 30 of 1977) was partly allowed in that the compensation amount of Rs. 18,000 allowed by the Tribunal was reduced to Rs. 13,500 by holding that a multiplier of ten would be a proper multiplier to determine the compensation and on that basis the compensation payable was worked out at Rs. 24,000. From this amount, the learned single judge made a deduction of Rs. 10,875 on account of the total pension which the family of the deceased was expected to receive for ten years. Thus, the net compensation payable to the claimants was held to be Rs. 13,500.

3. In the two appeals filed on behalf of the claimants, their learned counsel, Mr. B.S. Shant, has made three submissions all of which require a favourable consideration. It is submitted in the first instance that the learned single judge had erred in applying a multiplier of ten, whereas the normal multiplier has been held by this court to be sixteen. The counsel has referred to Asha Rani v. Union of India, AIR 1982 P & H 435; [1984] 56 Comp Cas 268 (P & H), wherein the matter received the attention of a Division Bench to which both myself and the learned Chief Justice were parties. The relevant observations made in the said case may be extracted (p. 275 of 56 Comp Cas):

'To conclude it is held that the age of the deceased person is neither a conclusive nor a paramount factor in the determination of the compensation except in those cases where the remaining years of life expectancy are less than the multiplier which is sought to be applied.........No otherimponderable or special factor which could warrant the reduction of the normal multiplier in the present case exists. The only thing that seemed to have weighed with the learned single judge was the age factor which, as opined above, was not relevant in the context of the remaining life expectancy of as much as 25 years. Therefore, it appears to us that there is no warrant for applying a multiplier of less than the normal one of 16. It deserves to be recalled that the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh's case, AIR 1979 P & H 50 [FB], itself had determined the suitable multiplier at 16. It bears repetition that their Lordships of the Supreme Court have applied a multiplier as high as 20 though this must be considered as virtually the outer limit. Consequently, we see no reason why in this case the norm of 16 should at all be deviated from.'

4. In view of the above decision, which was the result of a close analysis of the Full Bench authority in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur, AIR 1979 P & H 50, and some decisions of the hon'ble Supreme Court, we hold that the learned single judge had erred in applying a multiplier of ten merely because the deceased was forty-eight years old at the time of his death, of the fact that his monthly salary was only Rs. 306 out of which he paid Rs. 40 per month as rent and the further fact that he cooked his own meal. A multiplier of sixteen would, thus, be applicable in the present case and the annual dependency of the deceased being Rs. 2,400, the compensation payable to him would work out to Rs. 38,400. We order accordingly.

5. The second point urged by the learned counsel is that the learned single judge had erred in making a deduction of Rs. 10,875 on account of pension which the claimants were expected to receive for a period of ten years. As rightly contended, this matter now stands concluded by the Full Bench decision of this court in Bhagat Singh Sohan Singh v. Om Sharma, AIR 1983 P&H; 94; [1983] 85 PLR 1 ; [1983] 56 Comp Cas 236 (P&H;) [FB], in which it was held that the pension which would accrue to the legal representatives of the deceased is not to be deducted from the compensation payable to them. Accordingly, the direction of the learned single judge making a deduction of Rs. 10,875, on that score, is set aside.

6. The last submission of the learned counsel for the appellants is that neither the Tribunal nor the learned single judge had allowed interest on the compensation amount. This contention is also sound. There is no reason shown on the opposite side as to why the claimants should be deprived of interest on the amount of compensation. In accordance with the precedents of this court in such matters, the claimants are allowed interest at the rate of 12 per cent. per annum from the date of the order of the Tribunal till the full payment of the amount.

7. On behalf of the driver and the owner of the truck who are respondents in the appeals filed by the claimants and appellants in their own appeal(LPA No. 251 of 1979), the contentions put forward are two-fold. It is submitted that the Tribunal and the learned single judge were not justified in accepting the testimony of the two witnesses, Sardara Singh (A.W. 3) and Ram Parkash Gulhati (A. W. 4) to the effect that the persons who were travelling in the fateful truck appeared to be members of a marriage party It is also submitted that the Tribunal had wrongly placed reliance upon certified copies of the statements of Din Dial and Mam Raj, exhibits R-1 and R-2, respectively, recorded in a criminal case in separate proceedings relating to the same accident. We see no force in these two contentions. The acceptance or otherwise of the oral testimony of witnesses is a matter within the purview of the Tribunal whose verdict was affirmed by the learned single judge. We do not propose to reassess the value of this oral evidence in Letters Patent Jurisdiction. So far as the admissibility of the documents, exhibits R-l and R-2, is concerned, no illegality is shown to have been committed in this respect in the wake of the provisions of Sections 77 and 80 of the Indian Evidence Act which have been interpreted in Bhaiyashbir Chand v. Smt. Bachan Kaur [1966-68] PLR Suppl. 101, relied upon by the Tribunal. Consequently, the finding of the Tribunal and the learned single judge that the insurance company is absolved of the responsibility to pay the compensation amount or any part thereof in view of the violation of the terms of the policy committed by the driver, is affirmed.

8. The net result is that Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 299 and 300 of 1979 are accepted to the extent indicated above, while Letters Patent Appeal No. 251 of 1979 stands dismissed. In the circumstances of the case, the parties in all these appeals are left to bear their own costs of the same.

S.S. Sandhawalia, C.J.

9. I agree.


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