S.S. Sodhi, J.
1. A glass splinter hit into the left eye of the claimant Inder Singh when the Haryana Roadways bus HRF 5116 he was travelling in was involved in an accident with the truck HRR 4515 coming from the opposite direction. This happened on January 23, 1979, at about 6 a.m. on the Hansi-Hissar road.
2. It was the finding of the Tribunal that the accident had been caused entirely due to the rash and negligent driving of the truck. The claimant Inder Singh, who lost his left eye as a result of the injuries suffered, was awarded Rs. 20,000/- as compensation.
3. The point raised by the claimant in appeal in the first instance was with regard to the finding recorded on the issue of negligence. The argument being that this was a case of composite negligence where some part of the blame for the accident also fell upon the bus driver. This aspect of the matter was stressed with a view to making the Haryana Roadways also liable for payment of compensation to the claimant.
4. A reference to the material on record would show that in describing the accident in the claim application, the claimant took the specific plea that the drivers of both the vehicles were to blame for the accident. The respondent-State of Haryana, however, sought to attribute the accident wholly to the negligence of the truck driver. No one appeared on behalf of the truck driver or its owner and they were consequently proceeded against ex-parte.
5. Deposing to the manner in which the accident occurred, the claimant PW 5 Inder Singh stated that the accident occurred as neither of the drivers gave way to the other and that the collision occurred in the middle of the road. To a similar effect was the statement of PW 3 Jagdish, another passenger in the bus. PW 4 Mange Ram was the other person examined as an eye-witness in the case, but his evidence is not of much relevance as he did not come forth with a clear account of the manner in which the accident occurred.
6. A telling circumstance against the State of Haryana here is the non-production of the bus driver who was indeed the best person to depose to his version of the accident. This cannot but raise an adverse inference against the respondent-State.
7. The photographs Exhibits PW 6/1-4 have their own tale to tell. There can be no manner of doubt that the truck driver was undoubtedly at fault and certainly more so than the bus driver, but it must at the same time be observed that the bus too remained on the metalled portion of the road even though the truck had come on to its side. The wheels of the bus in fact pointed inwards towards the truck and not away from it.
8. These being the circumstances that fall to be considered in the light of the evidence on record, there can be no escape from the conclusion that this was indeed a case of composite negligence which deserves to be apportioned at 75 per cent as that of the truck driver and 25 per cent of the bus driver. The finding recorded by the Tribunal on the issue of negligence is modified accordingly.
9. Next to consider the quantum of compensation payable to the claimant. As has been montioned earlier, Inder Singh lost his left eye on account of this accident. Being a bus driver by profession, this cannot but also adversely affect his earning capacity besides being such a severe handicap to him in his day to day living. There is also medical evidence on record regarding his stay in hospital. He must undoubtedly have undergone considerable pain and inconvenience on account of the injuries suffered. Keeping these aspects in view and also the precedent of the award in a similar case in F.A.O. No. 508 of 1980 Amrik Singh v. Ved Prakash decided on November 13, 1984 the claimant must be held entitled to the compensation claimed, which was Rs. 50,000/-.
10. The compensation payable to the claimant is accordingly hereby enhanced to Rs. 50,000/- which he shall be entitled to along with 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. All the respondents shall be jointly and severally liable to the claimant for the compensation awarded, but the respondents inter-se shall be entitled to rateable contribution in respect of the compensation recovered from them by the claimant.
11. This appeal is accordingly hereby accepted with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 500/-.