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Krishna Devi and anr. Vs. Des Raj and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1984)ACC152
AppellantKrishna Devi and anr.
RespondentDes Raj and ors.
Cases ReferredLachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur
Excerpt:
- - it was his failure to do so that resulted in his motor-cycle hitting into the truck......counter version of the accident took the stand that the road on which the truck was travelling was main road while that from which the motor-cyclist had come was a side road. further it was stated that the truck had been travelling at a slow speed and it was the motor-cycle which was being driven at a fast speed and had come and struck against the truck near the right rear wheel thereof.4. it is the common case of the parties that an accident did indeed take place between the truck and the motor-cycle at the road junction in question and that the motor-cycle had come on to it from the right side of the truck. the main point urged in challenge to the finding of the tribunal on the issue of negligence was that the road from which the motorcyclist had come on to this road junction was a.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi, J

1. Bhupinder Singh, the young son of the claimants Krishna Rani and Gurcharan Singh, the appellants here, was killed while driving his motor cycle when it met with an accident with a truck. This happened on November 7, 1974. The Tribunal came to the finding that the accident had been caused by the rash and negligent driving of the truck driver, but awarded no compensation to the claimants, holding that they were neither dependent upon the deceased nor had they suffered any monetary loss on account of his death. This is now what has been challenged in appeal. The respondents on the other hand, sought to escape liability by seeking to assail the finding recorded by the Tribunal on the issue of negligence.

2. The accident here had taken place at a road junction in Model Town, Panipat. Both the truck and the motor cycle had come on to this road junction from a different roads. The road from which the deceased came was on the right hand side of that on which the truck was travelling. According to the claimants, the deceased was just going to turn at the road junction when the truck being driven in a rash and negligent manner came and struck against the motor cycle and thereby caused this accident.

3. The respondents in giving their counter version of the accident took the stand that the road on which the truck was travelling was main road while that from which the motor-cyclist had come was a side road. Further it was stated that the truck had been travelling at a slow speed and it was the motor-cycle which was being driven at a fast speed and had come and struck against the truck near the right rear wheel thereof.

4. It is the common case of the parties that an accident did indeed take place between the truck and the motor-cycle at the road junction in question and that the motor-cycle had come on to it from the right side of the truck. The main point urged in challenge to the finding of the Tribunal on the issue of negligence was that the road from which the motorcyclist had come on to this road junction was a side road; whereas the truck was travelling on the main road and the deceased had thereby contravened the provisions of Regulation 7 of the 10th Schedule of the Motor Vehicles Act. The argument being that as the deceased was entering the main road, it was incumbent upon him to give way to traffic thereon. It was his failure to do so that resulted in his motor-cycle hitting into the truck.

5. The question whether a road is a main road or a side road is one of fact to be decided according to the evidence on record and also keeping in view the provisions of Section 77 of the Motor Vehicles Act. In this behalf, it is pertinent to note that the truck driver Des Raj when he appeared in the witness box as RW. 1 did not state that the road on which the truck was travelling was the main road; while that from which the deceased had come was a side road. On the other hand, PW. 9 Rajinder Kumar, an eye witness to the occurrence, who had also lodged the First Information Report in this case, stated in answer to the question asked in cross examination by the counsel for the respondents that the road on which the truck was coming was not a main road. His testimony being that all the roads in Model Town, Panipat were alike. In the face of this categoric statement, his earlier statement in the examination-in-chief that the motor cycle had come from a side road was obviously a statement adverting to the direction from which the deceased came and not the character of the road as such as compared to that of the road on which the truck was travelling. PW. 10 Rajinder Singh, another eye witness in this behalf testified that the width of both the roads in question was the same. There is also no evidence on record to suggest that either of these roads had been designated as a main road for the purposes of Regulations contained in the 10th Schedule of the Motor Vehicles Act. There is thus, no warrant for accepting the contention that the truck was being driven on the main road and the motor-cycle had come on to it from the side road. Indeed the particular point to bear in mind is that the motor-cycle had come from the right hand side of the truck and by virtue thereof it was the driver of the truck who was required to give way to it.

6. No infirmity can thus be spelt-out in the finding of negligence recorded against the respondent truck driver.

7. Turning to consider the other and main question arising in this appeal, namely with regard to the amount that the claimants may be entitled to as compensation, the relevant facts which stand out are that Bhupinder Singh, deceased, was only 19 years of age at the time of his death. He was unmarried, According to the evidence on record, he was running a workshop at Panipat known as 'Gurcharan Engineering Works'. Machinery for this workshop had all been purchased by his father Gurcharan Singh, but according to PW. 18, the said Gurcharan Singh, it was Bhupinder Singh, deceased, who Was incharge thereof. Three or four persons had been employed to work in this workshop. Bhupinder Singh had been trained by him as a turner. An expert turner, he stated, was available at Rs. 550/- per month. As regards the claimants themselves, as has been mentioned above, they are the parents of the deceased. Gurcharan Singh being 48 years of age and presumably the mother of the deceased being some-what younger. Evidence had also been led in this case to establish a history of longevity in the family.

8. The picture that, thus, emerges is that at the time of his death, the deceased was gainfully employed. He was unmarried, but it is to be assumed that if he had not been killed in this accident, he would in due course have got married and raised a family and thereby also had to meet the family expenses. Children looking after parents particularly in their old age is a common feature of our society and in consonence therewith it is reasonable to assume that the deceased was not only supporting his parents at the time of his death, but would have continued to extend to them financial help in later years too.

9. The principles governing the computation of compensation payable in such cases are those as set out by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur 1979 P.L.R. 1. Considered in the light thereof, in the circumstances of this case and the evidence on record, it would be fair and just to take the income of the deceased to be at the rate of Rs. 500/- per month, which was indeed the figure mentioned in the claim application. Over the years both the income and expenses of the deceased can be assumed to rise, but, be that it may after making an allowance for this fact and also the amount that the deceased may have required for himself, the financial loss to the claimants can be taken at Rs. 200/- per month. Considering next the age of the deceased, as also the claimants, 16 deserves to be treated as an appropriate multiplier here. So computed, the claimants must be held entitled to an award of a sum of Rs. 38,400/- as compensation for the loss suffered by them on account of the death of the deceased. To make it a round figure, however, the claimants, are hereby awarded a sum of Rs. 40,000/-. The claimants shall be entitled to this amount 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. Liability for the amount awarded shall be joint and several of all the respondents including the respondent insurance company.

10. This appeal is consequently accepted to the extent indicated above with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 300/-.


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