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Mool Chand and ors. Vs. Tripta Bakhshi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in2(1985)ACC328
AppellantMool Chand and ors.
RespondentTripta Bakhshi and ors.
Cases ReferredLachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur
Excerpt:
- - and bad also been provided with free / residential accommodation......further held that at the time of the accident the offending truck was owned by the appellant-mool chand and the person driving it was sukhwant singh. the claimants, they being the widow and childern of bakshi madan lai deceased, were awarded rs. 48,000/- as compensation for which both mool chand and sukhwant singh were held liable.4. the truck was originally owned by hans raj who had insured it with the national insurance company. later, it was sold to the appellant mool chand. the point to be determined here is when was this truck sold by hans raj to mool chand.5. according to hans raj, the truck was sold in may 1977, that is, before the present accident, whereas the plea of mool chand was that he had purchased it on january 13, 1978, namely; after the accident. the third party.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi J.

1. The main controversy in appeal here is with regard to the ownership of the offending truck.

2. Bakshi Madan Lal, while returning home was knocked down and killed by the truck PNP 6544. This happened on August 28, 1977 on Surat Road near Khalsa College, Amritsar. It was the finding of the Tribunal that the accident had been caused by the rash and negligent driving of the truck.

3. The Tribunal further held that at the time of the accident the offending truck was owned by the appellant-Mool Chand and the person driving it was Sukhwant Singh. The claimants, they being the widow and childern of Bakshi Madan Lai deceased, were awarded Rs. 48,000/- as compensation for which both Mool Chand and Sukhwant Singh were held liable.

4. The Truck was originally owned by Hans Raj who had insured it with the National Insurance Company. Later, it was sold to the appellant Mool Chand. The point to be determined here is when was this truck sold by Hans Raj to Mool Chand.

5. According to Hans Raj, the truck was sold in May 1977, that is, before the present accident, whereas the plea of Mool Chand was that he had purchased it on January 13, 1978, namely; after the accident. The third party here was Sukhwant Singh who was said to have been the driver of the truck when the accident occurred. The plea put-forth by him was one of total denial saying that he was not in any way connected with or responsible for the accident.

6. The important evidence in the matter of the transfer of the truck by Hans Raj to Mool Chand consists of two affidavits of Hans Raj brought on record by his son Hari Mani and the application referred to by R.W.2 Bimal Singh, Clerk of the Excise and Taxation Department, Gurdaspur. This application exhibit R.W. 6/2 was made by Hari Mani on behalf of Hans Raj the Excise and Taxation Officer, Gurdaspur and it pertained to the route permit held by Hans Raj in respect of the truck PNP-6544. The date mentioned on this application was June 17, 1977 and it was stated therein that as this truck had been sold to Mool Chand, the route-permit, which was valid uptto July 15, 1978, was lying vacant and that it was intended to use it on a new vehicle. It has come on record, both from the testimony of R.W. 2 Bimal Singh, as also R.W. 6. Hari Mani that this application was accompanied by the affidavit of Hans Raj (R.W. 6/3) whereby it was stated that Hans Raj had sold this truck to Mool Chand on May 16, 1977. It deserves note that this affidavit bears the date June 17, 1977 and was also attested on that date by the Oath Commissioner at Gurdaspur. The filing of this affidavit with the application exhibit R.W. 6/2 was also deposed to by R.W. 3 R.S. Parmar, Excise and Taxation Officer, Gurdaspur, who made his report exhibit R.W. 2/1 on this application. The truck having been sold to Mool Chand finds specific mention therein. This report bears the date June 21, 1977.

7. The other affidavit of Hans Raj is exhibit R.W. 6/4 where, again it was stated that the truck had been sold by him to Mool Chand since April 28, 1977 and that he consequently had no objection to the ownership of the vehicle being transferred in the name of Mool Chand. This affidavit is of December 22, 1977, that is a date after the accident in this case. It has however, come in evidence that this affidavit was given to Mool Chand to enable him to get the registration of the truck transferred to his name. This documentary evidence amply justifies reliance upon the testimony of R.W. 6 Hari Mani son of Hans Raj, that the truck had been sold by Hans Raj to ' Mool Cband at the end of April 1977 and the sale price was finally received on May 16, 1977, R.W. 7 Chaman Lal corroborated this statement of Hari Mani by deposing that at the end of April 1977 the truck was delivered to Mool Chand by Hans Raj when Rs. 2000/- were given to him as earnest money. He had stood surety for Mool Chand for payment of the remaining, sale price. This amount was later paid by Mool Chand to Hans Raj on May 16, 1977. It deserves note that there was no specific challenge to this statement in cross-examination. In the face of this evidence, the bald statement of R.W.I. Mool Raj that he took delivery of the truck only after it had been registered in his name in January 1978, cannot be accepted. No exception can thus be taken to the finding of the Tribunal that Mool Chand was the owner of the truck at the time of the accident. i

8. Similarly, the finding that Sukhwant Singh was the driver of the offending truck when the accident occurred, must also stand. The appeal filed by Sukhwant Singh, F.A.O. No. 5 of 1981 (Sukhwant Singh v. Smt. Tripta Bakshi), already stands dismissed for non-prosecution by the order of D.S. Tiwana, J. of April 9, 1982.

9. The other point for consideration here is with regard to the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants. The evidence on record shows that Bakshi Madan Lal deceased was about 45 years of age at the time of his death. He died leaving behind his widow Tripta Bakshi who was about 40 years old at that time and three-children-his son aged 23 and two unmarried daughters, 20 and 16 years old respectively. The deceased had been employed as a clerk with Oriental Carpet Mills, Amritsar, where his emoluments, as such were Rs. 590/- p.m. He was in addition entitled to / bouns of about Rs. 1500/- P.A. and bad also been provided with free / residential accommodation. Besides this, he was also running a poultry farm / from where his income was said to be over Rs. 400/- per month. Bakshi { Madan Lai had, however, been dismissed from service about eight months prior to his death. A demand notice had been served by him upon the, Company seeking his reinstatement and this matter was still pending when ' died. In this situation it was the contention of Mr. L.M. Suri, counsel for the claimants that even if it is to be taken that he was not in service on the date of his death, his actual earnings from the poultry farm as also his potential earning capacity from service, if not with Oriental Carpet Mills, Amritsar, than elsewhere, would amply justify his earnings for the, purpose of computation of compensation being taken at Rs. 600/- p m. and on this basis, in keeping with the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur, 1979 P.L.R-1, it would be fair and just to assess the annual dependency of the claimants at Rs. 5.000/- per annum with a multiplier of '16'. Considering the circumstances and situation of the claimants and the deceased, this is indeed a contention which warrants acceptance. The compensation payable to the claimants is accordingly hereby enhanced to Rs. 80,000/- (Rs. Eighty thousand only) which they shall be entitled to along with interest at the rate of 12 per cant per annum from the date of application to the date of the payment of the amount awarded. Out of the amount awarded, as suggested by the counsel for the claimants, a sum of Rs. 15,000/- each shall be payable to the daughters of the deceased and the balance to his widow.

10. The liability for the amount awarded shall be that of Mool Cnand and Sukhwant Singh. Mool Chand and Sukhwant Singh shall be jointly and severally libale for payment of the compensation awarded.

11. In the result, the appeal filed by the claimants is hereby accepted while that filed by Mool Chand is dismissed with costs. Counsel fee Rs. 500/-.


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