S.S. Sodhi, J.
1. The challenge in appeal here is to the award of Rs. 1,05,600/- as compensation to the widow and minor children of Corporal R.C. Yadav of the Indian Air Force, who was killed in an accident with the scooter CHO-2797 driven by Jagdeep Singh. The deceased was on his motor-cycle at that time. This happened on October 23, 1978 at about 4.15 p.m. On the road between sectors 17 and 18, Chandigarh. The tribunal held the scooter-driver wholly to blame for the accident. Rash and negligent driving thereof being found against him
2. There are conflicting versions of the accident. According to the claimants, the accident occurred when Jagdeep Singh came on to the road via a kachcha path on the side of sector 18. The case of Jagdeep Singh, on the other hand, was that both the scooter and the motor-cycle were coming from opposite directions on the main road when the motor-cycle suddenly came on to its wrong side and hit into the scooter.
3. The case of the claimants was founded upon the testimony of PW 4 constable Yaad Ram, who deposed that he saw this accident while returning from his duty at the bus-stand in sector 17, Chandigarh. He stated that the scooter had come on to the main road from a kacha path in sector-18 and it was then that the motor-cycle and the scooter collided. A similar statement was made by P.W. 5 Sampat, a tikshaw-puller, who was on the road at that time. Both these witnesses gave a consistent account of the occurrence and there are no discrepancies or contradictions to create any doubt in their testimony. There is also, on record, the first information report exhibit P 3 which was recorded on the statement of PW 5 Sampat within an hour of the accident, that is, before there was any time or occasion to concoct any version other than that of the incident, as it had occurred.
4. Jagdeep Singh on the other hand, deposed to his version of the accident when he came into the witness box and he was supported by RW 2 Som Nath another eye-witness to the occurrence. They both deposed that it was the motor-cycle that had come on to the wrong side of the road and hit into the scooter. Mr. L.M. Suri, counsel for Jagdeep Singh laid great stress upon the fact that Jagdeep Singh had been acquitted in the criminal case relating to this accident. The judgment of the criminal court being exhibit R/l He next adverted to the testimony of PW 4 constable Yaad Ram that the motorcycle did not swerve towards its right before the accident and that the place of impact was about 2 or 3 feet inside the road from the side of sector-15 In tnis behalf the site plan Exhibit P/4 prepared by PW 3 S.I. Satnam Singh' was regarded to where the point of collision was shown to be on the other side of the centre of the road. Great resistance was also sought to be placed upon the testimony of RW 2 Som Nath, who was described as a wholly independent witness.
5. In dealing with the contentions raised, it would be pertinent to note that Jagdeep Singh had not taken a plea before the criminal Court which was in any manner in sonsonance with that taken by him here. As regards RW 2 Som Nath, before the criminal court, he bad stated that he noticed the accident only after it had already taken place. In other words, he had not seen the two vehicles at the time of collision. There is no explanation forthcoming to account for this. This being so, neither Jagdeep Singh nor Som Nath can be relied upon.
6. There is no suggestion that PW 4 constable Yaad Ram and PW 5 Sampat were in any manner interested in the claimants or to have any motive to falsely depose in their favour or against Jagdeep Singh. The Tribunal thus rightly took them to be wholly independent witnesses and thus worthy of reliance.
7. The discrepancies appearing in the testimony of constable Yaad Ram and the site plan exhibit P/4 are clearly of a minor nature, which cannot detract from the value to be attached to his testimony. Considered in their totality, in the light of the evidence on record, no exception can be taken to the finding of the Tribunal holding Jagdeep Singh guilty of rash and negligent driving. The finding on the issue of negligence must thus be upheld and affirmed.
8. As regards the claimants' entitlement to compensation, the evidence on record would show that Corporal Yadav was about 32 years of age at the time of his death with his widow Kiran Kumari Yadav being only 22 years of age at that time and their daughter was then about 2 years old. PW 7 Flying Officer V.N.L. Kutty stated that the total emoluments of the deceased were Rs. 735/- p.m. and he had another 22 years of service before attaining the age of superannuation. Applying here the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhaman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur, 1979 PLR-1, no exception can be taken to the compensation awarded to the claimants '16' would clearly be the appropriate multiplier to be applied here and the Tribunal rightly took the dependency at Rs. 550/- p.m. On this basis, the amount payable would work out to that award; namely; Rs. 1,05,600/- (Rs. One lac, five thousand and six hundred only).
9. The compensation awarded to the claimants is accordingly hereby upheld, but the claimants shall be entitled to interest thereon 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. 40,000/- shall be payable to the minor daughter of the deceased and the balance to his widow. The amount payable to the minor claimant shall be paid to her in such manner as the Tribunal may deem to be in her best interest.
10. Jagdeep Singh and the New India Assurance Company shall be jointly and severally liable for the compensation awarded.
11. In the result, the appeal filed by the claimants is hereby accepted to the extent indicated above while that filed by Jagdeep Singh and an other is dismissed with costs. Counsel fee Rs. 500/-.