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Harminder Singh and anr. Vs. Sukhpinder Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1985)ACC447
AppellantHarminder Singh and anr.
RespondentSukhpinder Singh and ors.
Cases ReferredLachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur
Excerpt:
.....on petitioner bidder to establish his allegations as state action shall always be presumed to be in accordance with law - the claimant was undoubtedly entitled to medical reimbursement but as is well known, such medical reimbursement does not always cover all the expenses actually incurred. considered in this light and in the context of the long period of hospitalization the claimant clearly deserves to be awarded a sum of around rs. 1,50,000/-.14. in the case of paramjit singh deceased, there is clearly no warrant for any enhancement in the compensation awarded. 42,000/-.16. finally, in the case relating to jagjit kaur and her six month's old child, bipan, while no enhanced compensation is warranted in the case of the child, the tribunal clearly fell in error in awarding only rs. it..........kaur for the financial loss suffered by them on account of his death. the parents of fateh singh deceased were awarded rs. 26,000/-. as regards jagjit kaur and her minor daughter bipan, the compensation awarded was rs. 18,000/- and rs. 12,000/- respectively.3. the matter which arises for determination in appeal now is with regard to the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants.4. beginning here with the case of dr. harminder singh, the evidence on record shows that he suffered as many as 12 injuries in this accident, p.w. 11 dr niman mathew registrar, department of ortheopaedic at the brown hospital. ludhiana, who examined dr. harminder singh, on the date of the accident, found his injuries to be as under:(1) a lacerated wound 1' 1/2' on the centre of fore-head.(2) a.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi, J.

1. Several passengers were injured and some died too, in a head-on collision between two Punjab Roadways Buses PUI-6329 and PUC-6510 coming from opposite directions. This happened on July 13, 1979 near village Badowal on the G.T. Road between Ludhiana and Jullundur. Amongst the injured was Dr. Harminder Singh, while those killed included this son Paramjit Singh, Fateh Singh and Jagjit Kaur and her six month old son Bipan.

2 The Tribunal returned a finding against the two bus-drivers on the issue of negligence and consequently held them and their employer. The State of Punjab liable for payment of compensation to the claimants. The amount awarded in the case of Dr. Harminder Singh, for the injuries sustained being Rs 56,000/- while in the other case relating to his son Paramjit Singh, Rs 30,000/- were awarded to him and his wife Sowarnjit Kaur for the financial loss suffered by them on account of his death. The parents of Fateh Singh deceased were awarded Rs. 26,000/-. As regards Jagjit Kaur and her minor daughter Bipan, the compensation awarded was Rs. 18,000/- and Rs. 12,000/- respectively.

3. The matter which arises for determination in appeal now is with regard to the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants.

4. Beginning here with the case of Dr. Harminder Singh, the evidence on record shows that he suffered as many as 12 injuries in this accident, P.W. 11 Dr Niman Mathew Registrar, Department of Ortheopaedic at the Brown Hospital. Ludhiana, who examined Dr. Harminder Singh, on the date of the accident, found his injuries to be as under:

(1) A lacerated wound 1' 1/2' on the centre of fore-head.

(2) A lacerated wound 1/2' 1/4' on the nose. It was superficial.

(3) A bone deep lacerated wound 1/2' 1/2' on the back of left elbow.

(4) A lacerated wound 2' 1' bone deep on the front of middle of left leg. There was fracture of left leg both bones.

(5) A lacerated wound 11/2' 1' booe deep on the middle of right leg. There was open fracture of the right leg.

(6) There was closed fracture of the shaft of ulna right.

(7) There was closed fracture shaft of ulna left.

(8) A bruise 2' x 1/2' long on anterior aspect of right ankle.

(9) There was intercondylar fracture of tibial and femural condyles with dislocation of right knee.

(10) An abrasion 11/2 1' on front of left knee.

(11) An abrasion 1' 1' on front of right knee.

(12) Swelling 3'x 3' on the right thigh.

The injuries mentioned at serial Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 were grievous and the doctor opined that these could have been caused in a motor accident.

5. It was further the testimony of Dr. Niman Mathew that Dr. Harminder Singh remained admitted in the hospital at Ludhiana until his discharge on August 18, 1979 when he was referred to the Post Graduate Medical Institute at Chandigarh for further treatment. It was also his testimony that there was stiffness in the right knee which was of a permanent nature but he could not give the extent of impairment of this limb.

6. Next to note is the testimony of A.W Dr. Shivinder Singh, Lecturer, Orthopaedic at the post Graduate Medical Institute, Chandigarh, who deposed that Dr. Herminder Singh was admitted to the Hospital on August 18, 1979 and was discharged on November, 14, 1979. He was operated upon on September 8, 1979.

7. Dr. Shivinder Singh stated that the patient, that is, Dr. Harminder Singh had a closed fracture of the lower l/4th of the left ulna, closed fracture of the middle 1/3rd of the right ulna, compound fracture of both bones of the left leg. compound fracture of both bones of the right leg, fracture of the medial condyle of right femur and closed fracture of the laterial condyle of the left tibia. The disabilities resulting from these injuries were listed out by this doctor to be:

(i) limitation of at least 20 degrees of supination of the left fore-arm.

(ii) Restriction of at least 20 degrees supination of the right fore-arm with painful last movements.

(iii) Shortening of the right lower limb by 3/4th of an inch.

(iv) Angulation of the left leg to the extent of 5 degrees.

(v) Rotation of the right leg 5 degrees.

(vi) Limitation of right knee flexion 140 degrees.

(vii) The right knee was unstable.

(viii) Limitation of left knee 20 degrees.

(ix) Movements of both ankles were restricted.

(x) Mid-tarsal joint of both feet were stiff.

These disabilities, the doctor opined, were of a permanent nature and consequently, Dr. Harminder Singh could not walk except with a stick nor could he run, squat or drive a car. The total disability, he put at about 50 per cent.

8. When Dr. Harminder Singh appeared in the witness box, he deposed that both his legs and arms had been fractured in this accident and he remained admitted in the hospital for about 7 months and was still under treatment. He deposed that he had spent about Rs. 30,000/- on his treatment and he had to remain on leave, without pay, for about 180 days. He also stated that on account of his inability to drive a car, he had to engage a driver at Rs. 375/- per month.

9. Considering the nature and extent of the injuries suffered, the claimant must indeed have undergone a great deal of pain and suffering and what is more, he is now left with serious disabilities which cannot, but serverely curtail his enjoyment of life and indeed affects his day-to-day living besides also adversely affecting his career prospects. There can obviously be no precise measure of just financial recompense for all that the claimant has undergone and the consequences that have be fallen him consequent upon this unfortunate accident. Taking however an over-all view of his circumstances in the context of the injuries suffered, he must indeed be held entitled to a sum of Rs. 1,25,000/- as general damages under these heads.

10. Besides this, there is a claim for the amount spent on medical treatment which includes special diet. The claimant was undoubtedly entitled to medical reimbursement but as is well known, such medical reimbursement does not always cover all the expenses actually incurred. The expenses for special diet are certainly not covered by it. Considered in this light and in the context of the long period of hospitalization the claimant clearly deserves to be awarded a sum of around Rs. 10,000/- on this account.

11. There is also a claim for the loss of salary on account of the claimant's hospitalization and period of convalescence. It has come in evidence that he had to remain on leave without pay for 86 days and for 80 days on half-pay. This loss calculated at the rate of Rs. 2850/- per month would work out Rs. 11,970/-

12. The tribunal also rightly awarded to the claimant a sum of Rs. 4,500/- for the salary of the driver for the car who had to be employed on account of the claimant's disabilities resulting from his injuries.

13. To make it a round figure, the claimant, Dr. Harminder Singh is hereby held entitled to Rs. 25,000/- as compensation for cost of medical treatment loss of salary and wages of a driver. The total compensation thus payable to this claimant would work out Rs. 1,50,000/-.

14. In the case of Paramjit Singh deceased, there is clearly no warrant for any enhancement in the compensation awarded. The claimants here being his parents, Ds. Harminder Singh and the mother Mrs. Sowarnjit Kaur. Both the parents are doctors in government service and holding senior posts. Considering their status, there was little likelihood of both of either of these claimants looking to their deceased son, Paramjit Singh, for financial support. Paramjit Singh was only about 17 years at the time of his death. He had just jointed Medical College, Amritsar. There can be no manner of doubt that he was a brilliant student as would be apparent from his admission in this college, but it would have been several years before he could have been in a position to lend financial help to his parents. Not to be lost sight of here is also the likelihood of his marriage and then having a family to support. Considered in their totality, therefore, the circumstances of the claimants and the deceased do not warrant any enhanced compensation being awarded to them.

15. Turning now to the case relating to Fateh Singh deceased, the evidence on record would show that he was unmarried and was about 25 years of age at the time of his death. He was running a Karyana shop, with his father and according to the Income-tax Order, exhibit A/1, for the year 1978-79, he was assessed to an income of slightly over Rs. 1000/- per month. The claimants here are his parents. His father was 69 years of age at the time of his death while his mother was only 50 years old at that time. Considering the circumstances of the claimants and the deceased, it would be reasonable to assume that had the deceased lived, he would, in all likelihood have got married in the near future and thereafter he would also have had the expenses of the family to bear. Applying here 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 compute the dependency at Rs. 3000/- per annum. No exception can be taken to the multiplier of '14' as suggested by the counsel for the claimants, So calculated, the compensation payable in this case would work out at Rs. 42,000/-.

16. Finally, in the case relating to Jagjit Kaur and her six month's old child, Bipan, while no enhanced compensation is warranted in the case of the child, the Tribunal clearly fell in error in awarding only Rs. 18,000/- as compensation to the husband and minor daughter of Jagjit Kaur, deceased. It is well settled that the services of a house-wife even though rendered gratuitously, do indeed have a monetary value in respect of which the claimants are entitled to compensation. Jagjit Kaur deceased was only about 27 years of age at the time of her death. She died leaving behind her 33 years old husband and a minor daughter under five years of age. The deceased, as a housewife, was looking after the household and was providing services as such to both her husband and her daughter and would have continued doing so for many years more. In such cases, there is, of course, the possibility of the husband remarrying which must be borne in mind. It is pertinent to mention here that the husband had an income of over Rs. 1,000/- per month and this lends credence to his testimony that after the death of his wife, he had to get paid domestic help for managing the household and looking after his minor child. Taking an over-all view of the totality of the circumstances of the claimants and the deceased, in this light, it would be fair and just to hold the claimants entitled to Rs. 50,000/- as compensation.

17. The compensation payable to Dr. Harminder Singh, in respect of his injuries is hereby enhanced to Rs. 1,50,0)0/-(Rs. One lac and fifty thousand only), while that payable to the parents of Fateh Singh deceased is enhanced to Rs. 42,000/- (Rs. Forty-two thousand only); and that payable to the husband and daughter of Jagjit Kaur deceased, to Rs. 50,000/- (Rs. Fifty thousand only). This amount shall be payable to the two claimants in equal shares. The claimants shall be entitled to the compensation awarded 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 compensation payable to the minor daughter of Jagjit Kaur deceased, shall be paid to her in such manner as the Tribunal may deem to be in her best interest.

18. The respondents shall be jointly and severally liable for the compensation awarded.

19. In the result, the appeals filed by Dr. Harminder Singh in respect of his injuries, Hira Singh and another; and Harbans Singh and another, are hereby accepted with costs. Counsel fee Rs. 500/-. The other appeals are dismissed. There will, however, be no order as to costs there.


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