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New India Assurance Co. Vs. Smt. Basanti and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal From Order No. 108 of 1979
Judge
Reported in[1987]61CompCas315(P& H)
AppellantNew India Assurance Co.
RespondentSmt. Basanti and ors.
Appellant Advocate G. Gurmukh Singh Chawla, Adv.
Respondent Advocate B.N. Aggarwal, Adv. for Respondent No. 6 and; M.S. Liberhan, Adv. for Respondent Nos. 1 to 5
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredLachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur
Excerpt:
.....of refusal passed to the persons concerned, the period of limitation for filing an appeal would commence from the date when the parties concerned acquire knowledge of passing of the said order. - the claimants, that is, the parents of the deceased, are thus clearly entitled to and are hereby awarded a sum of rs......rs. 18,000 as compensation to the claimants, they being his parents, brother and sisters.2. sher singh, deceased, had been run over and killed by the bus dlp-5809. this happened on september 28, 1976. a finding of rash and negligent driving had been returned by the tribunal against the bus driver, joginder singh. the liability for payment of the amount awarded as compensation was fastened upon the owners of the bus, the krishna bus service (p.) ltd. as also the insurance company, the new india assurance company, with which the bus stood insured.3. the controversy raised in appeal now is with regard to the liability of the owners and the insurance company. the claimants, on the other hand, sought enhanced compensation to the extent claimed, namely, rs. 25,000.4. the insurance company.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi, J.

1. The matter here concerns the accident which resulted in the death of Sher Singh and the award of Rs. 18,000 as compensation to the claimants, they being his parents, brother and sisters.

2. Sher Singh, deceased, had been run over and killed by the bus DLP-5809. This happened on September 28, 1976. A finding of rash and negligent driving had been returned by the Tribunal against the bus driver, Joginder Singh. The liability for payment of the amount awarded as compensation was fastened upon the owners of the bus, the Krishna Bus Service (P.) Ltd. as also the insurance company, the New India Assurance Company, with which the bus stood insured.

3. The controversy raised in appeal now is with regard to the liability of the owners and the insurance company. The claimants, on the other hand, sought enhanced compensation to the extent claimed, namely, Rs. 25,000.

4. The insurance company must indeed be absolved of liability in this case, as Joginder Singh, the bus driver, on his own showing, did not possess a driving licence. To a similar effect was the statement of P.W.9, Sub-Inspector, Jarnail Singh, who had investigated the criminal case arising from this accident.

5. As regards the owners of the bus, the plea raised was that they could not be held vicariously liable for the negligent driving of Joginder. Singh as he had not been authorised to drive the bus, the contention being that Joginder Singh was only a bus conductor and it was no part of his duty to drive the bus nor had he been so authorised or directed to do so. In dealing with this matter, it deserves mention at the very outset that no such plea was raised by the owners in their written statement. Joginder Singh was admittedly an employee of the owners. Whether or not Joginder Singh was authorised to drive the bus was a matter within the special knowledge of the owners. There is no material on record except the bald statement of the manager, RW-3, Pritam Singh, to show that Joginder Singh had indeed driven this bus without authority. No documentary evidence has been produced on record to show that Joginder Singh was only a conductor and not a driver. There is no mention of any action, if any, taken against Joginder Singh for having driven this bus at the time of the accident, if indeed his act in doing so was unauthorised. What is more, Jagjit Singh, who is said to have been the driver of this bus was not produced. In these circumstances, the owners cannot be allowed to escape liability for payment of compensation to the claimants.

6. Turning to the compensation payable to the claimants, the evidence on record shows that Sher Singh, deceased, was only 20 years of age at the time of his death. He was a cultivator, who took certain land on lease for cultivation and this was his source of income. The Tribunal assessed his income to be Rs. 400 per month. The parents of the deceased, who are indeed the only claimants entitled to compensation here, were around the age of 40 years at the time of his death. Applying here the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur [1979] 81 PLR 1 ; [1979] ACJ 170; AIR 1979 P & H 50, the appropriate multiplier to be applied would obviously be 16 and even if the loss to the parents is taken to be at the rate of Rs. 1,800 per annum, it would work out to a figure larger than the amount claimed. The claimants, that is, the parents of the deceased, are thus clearly entitled to and are hereby awarded a sum of Rs. 25,000 as compensation 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. The liability for the entire amount awarded shall be that of the owners of the bus, the Krishna Bus Service (P.) Ltd.

7. In the result, the appeals filed by the New India Assurance Co. and the claimants are hereby accepted, while that of the owners of the bus is dismissed. The successful appellants shall be entitled to their costs in all these appeals. Counsel's fee Rs. 300 (one set each).


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