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Dhani Ram and anr. Vs. Jaspal Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported inI(1986)ACC14
AppellantDhani Ram and anr.
RespondentJaspal Singh and ors.
Excerpt:
.....to establish his allegations as state action shall always be presumed to be in accordance with law - durga devi was dismissed by the tribunal holding that they had failed to prove that the accident had occurred due to the rash or negligent driving of simer chand, bus-driver. 2. 5. while dismissing the claim petition, the tribunal has held that the claimants have failed to prove that the accident was the result of rash or negligent driving of the bus-driver......road. it is stated that a bus of pepsu road transport corporation driven rashly and negligently by simer chand, respondent no. 2, came from the side of the new bus-stand, ludhiana, and unmindful of the scooterists lying on the road, he did not stop the bus and ran over chander pal who received fatal injuries and died at the spot.2. the claim of compensation filed by the parents of the deceased, namely, dhani ram and smt. durga devi was dismissed by the tribunal holding that they had failed to prove that the accident had occurred due to the rash or negligent driving of simer chand, bus-driver. the judgment of the tribunal is now the subject-matter of the instant appeal.3. the eye-witnesses of the accident are kishan dutt (pw 4) and atam parkash (pw 5). they have categorically deposed that.....
Judgment:

Pritpal Singh, J.

1. Chander Pal, who was 17 years old, was employed with Jaspal Singh, respondent No. 1, in an Automobile Repair shop, statedly at the rate of Rs. 200/- per month. On January 11, 1980, he was going on a scooter being driven by Nirmal Kumar. He was sitting on the pillion seat. The scooter struck against the foot-path due to which Nirmal Kumar and Chander Pal fell on the road. It is stated that a bus of Pepsu Road Transport Corporation driven rashly and negligently by Simer Chand, respondent No. 2, came from the side of the new bus-stand, Ludhiana, and unmindful of the scooterists lying on the road, he did not stop the bus and ran over Chander Pal who received fatal injuries and died at the spot.

2. The claim of compensation filed by the parents of the deceased, namely, Dhani Ram and Smt. Durga Devi was dismissed by the Tribunal holding that they had failed to prove that the accident had occurred due to the rash or negligent driving of Simer Chand, bus-driver. The judgment of the Tribunal is now the subject-matter of the instant appeal.

3. The eye-witnesses of the accident are Kishan Dutt (PW 4) and Atam Parkash (PW 5). They have categorically deposed that the bus was being driven rashly by the driver when the accident took place. The bus was stopped at a distance of about 50 yards from the place of accident. The bus driver was apprehended and was detained till the arrival of the Police.

4. The case of the bus-driver Simer Chand is that he was not involved. In the accident and that he only saw the scooter hitting the foot-path. His contention is that Chander Pal had died on account of the injuries received by him due to the fall from the scooter. This plea of the driver is evidently false and frivolous. It is the consistent testimony of the eye-witnesses Kishan Dutt (PW 4) and Alam Parkash (PW 5) that Chander Pal was run over by the bus being driven by bus-driver Simer Chand respondent No. 2. There is no reason to disbelieve their evidence which finds corroboration from the postmaster report which shows that the deceased had received multiple injuries including fracture of skull and rupture of heart. These injuries could not possibly have been sustained by the deceased by a mere fall from the scooter. On the contrary these injuries are consistent with the testimony of the eyewitnesses that the deceased had been run over by the bus. The Tribunal has, therefore, rightly held that the deceased had died on account of the injuries received by him when he was run over by the bus driven by Simer Chand, respondent No. 2.

5. While dismissing the claim petition, the Tribunal has held that the claimants have failed to prove that the accident was the result of rash or negligent driving of the bus-driver. The finding of the Tribunal is that it is a case where the bus-driver was taken unaware and he was unable to avoid the accident. In my opinion, this finding is erroneous. The case of the claimants, supported by the eye-witnesses, is that after the deceased Chander Pal and Nirmal Kumar fell down from the scooter, the running over of the deceased Chander Pal by the bus could be avoided if Simer Chand driver had not been driving the bus rashly and negligently. There is no reason to disbelieve this contention. The plea of rash and negligent driving raised by the claimants was nowhere denied by the bus-driver in the written statement. He, on the contrary, pleaded that the bus driven by him was not at all involved in the accident and he had merely seen the accident from a distance. Since this plea has been proved to be false, there is no defence to the claimants' plea regarding rash and negligent driving. The Tribunal has itself built up a defence for the bus-driver in the impugned judgment which was not even pleaded by the latter. The bus-driver never pleaded that he was taken unawares and that it was not possible for him to stop the bus when the deceased fell on the road from the scooter. The Tribunal, therefore, evidently cannot be allowed to create defence for the bus-driver in a manner which goes against the pleadings of the latter. In my view, therefore, Simer Chand respondent cannot be absolved of the responsibility of causing fatal injuries to the deceased. No doubt, the accident took place after the scooter had hit the foot-path felling Chander Pal and Nirmal Kumar on the road, but the eye-witness account testified by the eye-witnesses, coupled with the conduct of the bus-driver in totally denying involvement in the accident, would lead to a reasonable conclusion that the death of Chander Pal was caused due to rash and negligent driving of Simer Chand respondent.

6. The circumstances in which the accident took place does indicate that it is a case of contributory negligence. The scooter on which the deceased was going and which was driven by Nirmal Kumar had hit the foot-path on account of which the deceased had been thrown on the road. It is only thereafter that the bus driven by Simer Chand respondent had become involved in the accident. Looking at the totality of the circumstances I would hold the bus-driver responsible to the extent of 25 per cent of the negligence which resulted in the death of Chander Pal.

7. The next point arises regarding the amount payable to the claimants as compensation for the loss suffered by them on account of the death of their son Chander Pal. It is proved from evidence that the deceased was only 17 years old when he met with the accident and he was working in a workshop. It is said that he was getting Rs. 200/- per month as wages. No doubt, there is no positive evidence in this respect, but he was an able bodied youth of 17 years and it can fairly be assumed that he was indeed earning Rs. 200/- per month. Hence, it will be reasonable to assess the loss of the claimants at Rs. 2,000/- per annum. Considering that Dhani Ram claimant was 55 years old and Durga Devi claimant 40 years old at the relevant time, sixteen would be the appropriate multiplier. By calculation, the whole quantum of loss would come to Rs. 32,000/-. Since the bus-driver has been held to be liable to the extent of 25 per cent, the claimants are found entitled to receive Rs. 8,000/- as compensation from respondents Nos. 2 and 3, that is, Simer Chand driver of the bus and owner of the vehicle the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation. No case has been made out against respondents Nos. 1 and 4.

8. The result of the aforesaid is that the petition is dismissed against respondents Nos. 1 and 4. However, the claimants are hereby awarded a sum of Rs. 8,000/- as compensation against respondents Nos. 2 and 3 along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of the application to the date of the payment. The liability for payment shall be joint and several of both the respondents who will also bear the costs of the appeal. Counsel's fee Rs. 300/-.


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