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Pohlu Ram and anr. Vs. Rajasthan State Road Transport Corpn. and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1985)ACC408
AppellantPohlu Ram and anr.
RespondentRajasthan State Road Transport Corpn. and anr.
Cases ReferredLachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur
Excerpt:
.....these services. considering the pain and suffering and the loss of amenities of life, that the claimants must have undergone, ravinder clearly deserves an award of rs. bhakhtawari had failed to prove that she was the widow of the deceased here. this circumstance is clearly not entitled to the great weight and importance which was attached to it by the tribunal. gurmit kaur 1979 plr 1. 16' would clearly be the appropriate multiplier to be applied and the loss deserves to be taken at rs 400/- per month. 15. the amount awarded as compensation shall be paid to the claimants along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of the application amount payable to the minor claimants shall be paid to them in such manner as the tribunal may deem to be in their best..........road.2. those killed in this accident included sukh dai, mother of the claimants pohlu ram and duli chand harpati the widow, sushila and sumitra the two minor daughter of duli chand and surta ram, who, according to the claimant smt. bhakhtawari. was her husband. the two injured being ravinder and sanjay sons of the claimant duli chand.3. it was the finding of the tribunal that the accident had been caused by the composite negligence of the driver of the bus and that of the jeep. the claimants duli chand and his sons ravinder and sanjay were awarded rs. 15,000/- as compensation in the claim relating to the three deceased harpati, shakuntla and sumitra and in addition of sum of rs. 1,000/- was awarded as compensation to ravinder and rs. 500/- to sanjay for injuries sustained by them in.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi, J.

1. In the head on collision between a jeep and a Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation bus, seven persons travelling in the jeep were kicked while two others sustained injuries. This heppened on October 30, 1976 at about 12.15 P.M. on Bhiwani-Hissar road.

2. Those killed in this accident included Sukh Dai, mother of the claimants Pohlu Ram and Duli Chand Harpati the widow, Sushila and Sumitra the two minor daughter of Duli Chand and Surta Ram, who, according to the claimant Smt. Bhakhtawari. was her husband. The two injured being Ravinder and Sanjay sons of the claimant Duli Chand.

3. It was the finding of the Tribunal that the accident had been caused by the composite negligence of the driver of the bus and that of the jeep. The claimants Duli Chand and his sons Ravinder and Sanjay were awarded Rs. 15,000/- as compensation in the claim relating to the three deceased Harpati, Shakuntla and Sumitra and in addition of sum of Rs. 1,000/- was awarded as compensation to Ravinder and Rs. 500/- to Sanjay for injuries sustained by them in this accident. The two other claims, namely; those relating to Sukh Dai and Surta Ram deceased, were, however, dismissed.

4. The claimants have all come up in appeal against the award of the Tribunal. Those in the claim relating to Sukh Dai and Surta Ram deceased, seeking acceptance of their claim while in the case of Duli Chand Ravinder and Sanjay, the claim being for enhanced compensation.

5. No appeal or cross-objections have been filed by any of the respondents. Mr. Munishwar Puri appearing for the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, however, sought to support the award by seeking to assail the finding of composite negligence as recorded by the Tribunal. The contention put-fourth in this behalf being that as the photographs of the accident showed the bus to be on its correct side of the road, when it occurred, the negligence must be taken to be wholly that of the driver of the jeep. This plea, if accepted would obviously mean that no liability could fall upon the driver or the owner of the bus, which in turn, would render the award unsustainable. Such a result cannot be countenanced except as a consequence of an appeal or cross-objections, neither of which, as mentioned earlier, has been filed in this case.

6. Be that as it may, the circumstances of the case and the evidence on record amply justify the finding of the composite negligence. The photographs, no doubt, show the bus of its left at the place of impact but this is duly accounted for by the fact that the other half of the road was under repairs and the jeep and thus per force to come on to that side to proceed further. Moreover, it was broad-day-light when the accident occurred and both the vehicles were visible to each other from a considerable distance. There was thus ample occasion and opportunity for the two drivers to have taken necessary steps to avoid the accident. The witnesses appearing on either side tried to torow the blame upon the other, but there is no satisfactory evidence of either driver having taken all the precautions to avoid collision with the other vehicle. In this situation, there could be no escape from the conclusion that both the drivers were equally negligent in allowing such an accident to take place. A pertinent observation from the photographs is that the bus had stopped with its face slightly inclined towards its left and the jeep titled towards its right. The Tribunal rightly took this to mean that the bus driver tried to turn to the left and in that process also dragged the front portion of the jeep towards that side. It was also rightly concluded in the light of the evidence of the mechanic AW 5 Harjas Singh, that from the damaged vehicles, it appeared that the bus was coming at a faster speed than the jeep. The finding of composite negligence, therefore, whereby the drivers of both the vehicles were held to be equally negligent, warrants no interference in appeal.

7. Turning now to the issue relating to the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants, the Tribunal cannot be faulted for declining the claim of Pohlu Ram and Duli Chand for compensation, for the death of their mother Sukh Dai. The evidence on record would show that she was 65 years of age at the time of her death. Counsel for the appellants could point to no evidence to indicate thereby any loss that the claimants may have suffered on account of her death. There was no mention of her doing any house work or performing any other services for the claimants. The Tribunal thus rightly did not award any compensation in this case. Whether the Tribunal clearly fell in error was in awarding only Rs. 16,500/- as compensation in respect of the death of the three deceased Smt. Harpati, Sushila and Sumitra and for the injuries suffered by the claimants Ravinder and Sanjey. It is now well-settled that both the husband as also the children are entitled to compensation for the loss of the services of the house wife and mother, even though provided to them by the deceased gratuitously, the measure of this loss being the cost of replacing these services. The claimant Duli Chand, husband of Harpati was only 33 years of age, when his wife who was 28 years of age, died in this accident. The two other claimants, namely, Ravinder and Sanjay were both under 8 years of age at that time. This would mean that the loss they have suffered on account of the death of Harpati was one which would enure for several years. In the circumstances, following the precedent as provided by F.A.O. No. 35 of 1979 (Bhagwan Dass Bhatia v. Anand Pal) decided on April 24 1984, the claimants must be held entitled to a sum of Rs. 30,000/- on this account.

8. Besides this, the father Duli Chand would also be entitled to compensation for the death of his minor daughters Sushila and Sumitra. The Supreme Court in C.K. Subramania Iyer and Ors. v. T. Kunhi Kuttan Nair and Ors. 1970 ACJ 110 observed:.As a general rule parents are entitled to recover the present cash value of the prospective service of the deceased minor child. In addition they may receive compensation for loss of pecuniary benefits reasonably to be expected after the child attains majority...

In the circumstances, it would be reasonable to assess the loss to their father here at the rate of Rs. 10,000/- in respect of each child.

9. The two injured Ravinder and Sanjay must also be held entitled to enhanced compensation for the injuries suffered by them in this accident. Both the bones of the left leg of Ravinder were fractured while Sanjay suffered a fracture of the femur bone of the right thigh. Considering the pain and suffering and the loss of amenities of life, that the claimants must have undergone, Ravinder clearly deserves an award of Rs. 10,000/- and Sanjay Rs. 7,000/- for the injuries sustained.

10. The total amount claimed by Duli Chand, Ravinder and Sanjey in respect of the death of the three deceased as also their injuries, was only Rs. 50,000/- and consequently the amount payable to them as compensation must be restricted to this sum.

11. Finally, there is the case relating to Surta Ram deceased. Compensation in this case was declined on the ground that claimant Smt. Bhakhtawari had failed to prove that she was the widow of the deceased here. This finding cannot be sustained. In the claim application, the name of the deceased was mentioned as 'Surta Ram' but in her evidence, the claimant Smt. Bhakhtawari mentioned this to be 'Surta Singh'. It is pertinent to note here that the parent age and the village of the deceased was in both cases correctly mentioned and there is no suggestion much less any evidence that Surta Ram and. Surta Singh were two different persons. The claimants Duli Chand, appearing as AW 11 had deposed that Surta Singh was his wife's brother. No suggestion was put to him that the deceased Surta Ram was not the widow of the said Surta Singh. The other circumstance taken against the claimant Smt. Bhakhtawari was that in her claim application, she had given the names of three sons only but in hea evidence, she had five children three of whom were daughters and the names of these five children were not the same as those mentioned in the claim application. This circumstance is clearly not entitled to the great weight and importance which was attached to it by the Tribunal. It must be appreciated here that Smt. Bhakhtawari was an illiterate village women. No attempt was made to seek any clarification from her or from any other witness regarding this matter. It is quite possible that on account of her simplicity, she omitted to mention the names of all the children in her claim application and also while giving evidence gave their other names. Whatever it may be this circumstance could justify the finding that Smt. Bhakhtawari was not the widow of Surta Ram deceased.

12. Surta Ram deceased was a school teacher. He was 38 years of age at the time of his death. He died leaving behind his widow, who was the 33 years old. As has been mentioned earlier, he also had five children. In this situation, keeping in view the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur 1979 PLR 1. '16' would clearly be the appropriate multiplier to be applied and the loss deserves to be taken at Rs 400/- per month. Compensation at this rate would work out to a figure beyond that claimed. This claim here being for only Rs. 50, 00/- which the claimants must indeed be held entitled to.

13. The compensation payable to the claimants Duli Chand, Ravinder and Sanjay is accordingly enchanced to Rs. 50,000/- which shall be apportioned at Rs. 20,000/- for Duli Chand and Rs. 15,000/- each to his two sons Ravinder and Sanjay.

14. In the other case relating to Surta Ram, deceased, the claimants Smt. Bhakhtawari and her children are hereby awarded a sum of Rs. 50,000/-as compensation. Half of this amount shall be paid to the widow Smt. Bhakhtawari and the balance shall be shared equally amongst the children of the deceased.

15. The amount awarded as compensation shall be paid to the claimants along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of the application amount payable to the minor claimants shall be paid to them in such manner as the Tribunal may deem to be in their best interest.

16. The driver and owner of the bus involved in the accident shall be jointly and severally liable for payment of the compensation awarded.

17. In the result, the appeal filed by Pohlu Ram and Duli Chand for compensation relating to the death of Sukh Dai is hereby dismissed while the two others are accepted. The claimants shall be entitled to their costs in these appeals. Counsel fee Rs. 300/- (one set only).


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