S.S. Sodhi, J.
1. The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation Bus PUP 2950 on its way to Mansa overturned near village Ramdittawala, as a result of which a number of passengers travelling in this bus were killed and many others sustained injuries. Amongst those killed, was Gurdev Singh. This happened on February 18, 1978, at about 11.30 a.m.
2. The Tribunal declined the claim for compensation filed by the claimants, they being the young widow and two minor children of Gurdev Singh deceased, holding that the accident had not been caused by any rash or negligent driving of the bus driver. It is this finding which is now assailed in appeal.
3. According to the claimants, the accident had been caused by the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver. It was said that the bus being driven at a very fast speed and when it reached near village Ramdittawala, there was a camel cart coming from the opposite direction. The bus driver lost control of the bus while crossing this camel cart as a result of which the bus overturned and fell into a nearby pond. The bus was also said to be overloaded with many persons sitting the roof too at that time.
4. The plea put-forth both by the bus driver as also on behalf of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation Bus was one of mere denial. No counter-version or explanation of how the accident took place was mentioned.
5. The claimants examined AW-6 Kaur Singh Sarpanch of village Ramdittawala, as an eye-witness to the occurrence. He deposed that he was standing on the roadside when he saw this bus coming overloaded at a fast speed. The bus did not stop at the bus stop and when it got to a kutcha pull, it fell into a pond. A number of persons were then injured and killed in this accident. To a similar effect were the statement of AW-7, Gamdur Singh, and AW-8 Hardial Singh.
6. The bus driver RW-1 Avtar Singh admitted the accident but stated that it occurred on account of the cement pipe in the culvert on the road giving way. What he stated was that there was a kutcha puli with fresh earth on it and when the bus went on to it, it overturned. It was also his testimony that the bus was moving at a very slow speed as it had stopped at the bus stop which was only a few karams from this puli.
7. It deserves mention here that even the claimant's witnesses had stated that the accident had occurred by the kutcha puli giving way when the bus passed over it.
8. A reading of the evidence here would show that the bus was coming fully loaded with passengers sitting even on the roof and that too at a fast speed. It has also come in evidence that it was while the bus was going past a camel cart that the accident occurred. The road at the place of the accident had a metalled portion of only 10-12 feet. If the bus was overtaking a camel cart, it would necessarily mean that part of the bus was on the kutcha portion of the road. It had been raining at that time. All these circumstances rendered it incumbent upon the bus driver to use extra care and caution in driving the bus, yet, the evidence is that he was driving it at a fast speed. It cannot be accepted, as deposed to by him, that he had stopped at the bus stand only a few karams from the culvert. If he had done so, he would have noticed the state of the culvert and tried to go cross it with proper care and perhaps in that event, no such accident would have occurred.
9. There was a duty of care which the bus driver owed to persons travelling in the bus commensurate with the state of the weather and the road conditions. Driving a fully loaded bus at a fast speed in these conditions was clearly no indication of such duty being observed.
10. A very pertinent aspect of the case here, as mentioned earlier, being that no explanation or counter-version of the accident was put-forth by the bus driver in his return.
11. Considered in their totality the circumstances of the case in the light of the evidence on record, lead irresistably to the conclusion that the accident here had been caused entirely due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver.
12. As regards the compensation payable to the claimants, the evidence on record shows that Gurdev Singh deceased was only 26 years of age at the time of his death. He was an agriculturist earning his livelihood by cultivation of land. He owned 7 acres of land and in addition cultivated another 15-20 acres of land belonging to others. In such a situation, it would be reasonable to take the loss to the claimants to be what the deceased could have earned as a peasent-proprietor of a small holding and deducting from that the amount that he would have spent upon himself and generally keeping in view also the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur 1979 PLR 1. Considered in this light and keeping in view also the fact that the young widow of the deceased was only 22 years of age and their two children were both under the age of 4 years, it would be fair and just to take the loss to the claimants at Rs. 3,000/- per annum with 16 as the multiplier, This would work out to Rs. 48,000/- which may be rounded off to Rs. 50,000/-.
13. The claimants are accordingly hereby awarded a sum of Rs. 50,000/-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 payment of the amount awarded. Out of the amount awarded, a sum of Rs. 10,000/- each shall be paid to the minor children and the balance to the widow. The amount payable to the children shall be paid to them in such manner as the Tribunal may deem to be in their best interest. The respondents shall be jointly and severally liable for the amount awarded.
14. This appeal is hereby accepted with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 300/-.