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Gurdial Kaur and ors. Vs. Atma Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in2(1985)ACC107
AppellantGurdial Kaur and ors.
RespondentAtma Singh and ors.
Cases ReferredLachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur
Excerpt:
.....the tribunal declined compensation to the claimants, they being the widow and children of mohinder singh deceased, holding that they had failed to prove any rash and or negligent driving by the driver of the tanker. 2. it is a well-established rule that vehicles coming from a side road must slow down and stop before entering the main road further that they must give way to traffic on the main road. this clearly provided no occasion for the tanker to have left its correct side of the road to have gone on to the other side to the extent that it went off the road and fell into a ditch. this being so, there is clearly no warrant for awarding an compensation to the claimants on this account, particularly when the land owned by the deceased has now come to them. the compensation payable to the..........the tribunal declined compensation to the claimants, they being the widow and children of mohinder singh deceased, holding that they had failed to prove any rash and or negligent driving by the driver of the tanker. herein lies the challenge in appeal.2. it is a well-established rule that vehicles coming from a side road must slow down and stop before entering the main road further that they must give way to traffic on the main road. it is apparent that the deceased did not observe such caution before going on to the main road. there is no suggestion of any slowing down of the motor cycle or the deceased ever having stopped before entering the malerkotla-rajkot road. the evidence on record shows that the tanker was on the main road and the accident occurred when the motor cycle came on.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi, J.

1. The Malerkotla-Raikot Road near the turning to village Sandhaur was the scene of the accident here. Mohinder Singh, a schoolteacher had come on to this road on his motor-cycle when he was run over and killed by the milk-tanker PUM-3194, coming from the opposite direction. This happened on September 13, 1977 at about 1.45 P.M. The Tribunal declined compensation to the claimants, they being the widow and children of Mohinder Singh deceased, holding that they had failed to prove any rash and or negligent driving by the driver of the tanker. Herein lies the challenge in appeal.

2. It is a well-established rule that vehicles coming from a side road must slow down and stop before entering the main road further that they must give way to traffic on the main road. It is apparent that the deceased did not observe such caution before going on to the main road. There is no suggestion of any slowing down of the motor cycle or the deceased ever having stopped before entering the Malerkotla-Rajkot Road. The evidence on record shows that the tanker was on the main road and the accident occurred when the motor cycle came on to it from the side road. Negligence on the part of the deceased is thus writ large.

3. The driver of the tanker too must also be held equally to blame as the accident occurred when the tanker had come on to its wrong side and indeed it went off the road and fell into a ditch on its right. The explanation of the tanker-driver RW 1 Atma Singh, for doing so, cannot stand scrutiny. According to him, he had swerved his vehicle to his right hand side on to the kacha path as the deceased coming from the opposite direction had gone to his wrong side of the road. This clearly provided no occasion for the tanker to have left its correct side of the road to have gone on to the other side to the extent that it went off the road and fell into a ditch. Quite possibly the accident could have been avoided, had the tanker stayed on its correct side.

4. Considering the totality of the circumstances in which the accident occurred, there can be no escape from the conclusion that this was a case of contributory negligence with both the deceased and the driver of the tanker being equally at fault.

5. As regards the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants, as had been mentioned earlier, Mohinder Singh was a School-teacher. According to PW 1 Pawan Kumar, clerk of the Government High School, Sandhaur, Mohinder Singh was about 53 1/2 years of age at the time of his death. The total emoluments of the deceased were over Rs. 650/- per month. This would mean that he had about 5 1/2 years' service to go and would be on pension thereafter.

6. There was next an attempt to show that the claimants had suffered loss of agricultural income to the extent of Rs. 400/- per month on account of the death of the deceased. It has come in evidence that the deceased had left behind about a 100-bighas of land. It is significant to note, however, that according to the testimony of PW 2 Harkishan Singh, brother of the deceased, the land used to be cultivated through servants. PW 6 Devinder Singh the son of the deceased, stated that he was now cultivating the land of his father. Counsel for the claimants could point to no evidence on record to show any diminution in the agricultural income of the family after the death of Mohinder Singh deceased. This being so, there is clearly no warrant for awarding an compensation to the claimants on this account, particularly when the land owned by the deceased has now come to them.

7. The claimants here are the widow and seven children of the deceased. Gurdial Kaur the widow, was 50 years of age at the time when her husband died. Only one of the five daughters of the deceased, was married. Both his sons were, however, major.

8. Considering the circumstances of the claimants and the deceased, in the context of the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur, 1979, PLR 1, it would be act to take '10' to be the appropriate multiplier in this case and to fix the dependency for the claimants at Rs. 6,000/- per annum. After making the allowance for the contributory negligence of the deceased, the compensation payable to the claimants would thus work out Rs. 30,000.

9. The claimants are accordingly hereby awarded a sum of Rs. 30,000/- as compensation which they shall be entitled to alongwith 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. Out of the amount awarded, a sum of Rs. 3,000/- each shall be paid to the four unmarried daughters of the deceased namely; Harpal Kaur; Kulwant Kaur; Lakhbir Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur and the balance to his widow. The compensation payable to the minor claimants shall be paid to them in the manner as the Tribunal may deem to be in their best interest. The respondents shall be jointly and severally liable for the compensation awarded.

10. This appeal is hereby accepted with costs. Counsel fee Rs. 500/-.


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