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Sital Singh and anr. Vs. Chela @ Sarjit Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported inII(1984)ACC396
AppellantSital Singh and anr.
RespondentChela @ Sarjit Singh and ors.
Cases ReferredLachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur
Excerpt:
.....his right. the tribunal clearly fell in error here. in the circumstances there was clearly no warrant for doubting the presence or the testimony of paramjit singh. it is now well settled that compensation in such cases has to be assessed in keeping with the principles laid down by the full bench in lachhman singh v. 12. placed as the deceased was, there is every reason to expect that if he had lived, he would have been gainfully employed with even better prospects after completing his studies. the parents of the deceased being only 46 and 42 years of age, respectively, 16 would clearly be the appropriate multiplier here......singh respondent was convicted on december 29,1978 in respect of this accident.5. that charanjit singh deceased had died as a result of a motor accident, is also supported by the testimony of p.w. 3 dr. k.c. garg, who conducted the post-mortem examination on his deadbody. the doctor had opined that the injuries on the deceased could have been caused in a motor accident.6. turning to the respondents' case, chela alias sarjit singh as r.w. 1 deposed that he had never driven the tractor pul 7409 and further tha no person had been killed in his presence by this tractor. in cross-examination, he was, however, constrained to admit that he stood convicted for driving this very tractor and for causing the death of charanjit singh, deceased, in this accident.7. the next witness examined by the.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi, J.

1. The claimants here are the parents of Charanjit Singh who was killed in an accident with a tractor on October 26 October 1976. The claim for compensation put in by them was negatived by the Tribunal on the finding that it had not been established that the accident had been caused by any negligence on the part of the driver of the tractor. It is this finding which now stands challenged in appeal.

2. According to the claimants, Charanjit Singh was thrown off the tractor PUL 7409 on which he was sitting, on account of the rash and negligent driving thereof by its driver-Chela alias Sarjit Singh, as a result of which he was run over by this very tractor. The respondents denied this accident. It was in fact stated that the respondent-Chela, had been falsely implicated in this case.

3. The eye-witness account of the accident was given by P.W. 5 Paramjit Singh, the brother of the deceased. It was his testimony that he was going towards Civil Hospital, Samrala, when the tractor No. PUL 7409 passed him. Charanjit Singh and Kala were sitting on it at that time. He stated that this tractor was being driven at a very fast speed and when it had gone about 20 Karams ahead, it hit into a bricks pavement in front of the shop of Maghar Singh where upon both Charanjit Singh and Kala fell down. It was then that Charanjit Singh was run over by the tractor.

4. It has also come on record that a report regarding this accident was lodged with the police. The First Information Report here was recorded on the statement of Maghar Singh. This first information report is Exhibit P. 1. It was the testimony of P.W. 5 Paramjit Singh that Maghar Singh had since been bribed to resile from the statement made by him to the police and on this account, he did not support it when he appeared in the criminal court where Chela alias Sarjit Singh respondent was convicted on December 29,1978 in respect of this accident.

5. That Charanjit Singh deceased had died as a result of a motor accident, is also supported by the testimony of P.W. 3 Dr. K.C. Garg, who conducted the post-mortem examination on his deadbody. The doctor had opined that the injuries on the deceased could have been caused in a motor accident.

6. Turning to the respondents' case, Chela alias Sarjit Singh as R.W. 1 deposed that he had never driven the tractor PUL 7409 and further tha no person had been killed in his presence by this tractor. In cross-examination, he was, however, constrained to admit that he stood convicted for driving this very tractor and for causing the death of Charanjit Singh, deceased, in this accident.

7. The next witness examined by the respondents was R.W. 2 Kala who came-forth with the version that he and the deceased had taken a lift on a tractor and had asked the tractor driver to stop it near the Kothi of a doctor. On reaching there he bad jumped on his left side while Charanjit Singh did so on his right. It was then that Charanjt Singh fell down and died. He stated that he did not know who had been driving the tractor at that time. He specifically stated that Chela was not the driver of this tractor. In cross-examination, however, he admitted that there was a criminal case pending against Chela, in which he was a prosecution witness, but stated that he did not know what happened in that case.

8. The Tribunal did not accept the testimony of Paramjit, Singh, holding it to be interested on the ground that he was the brother of the deceased. The fact that the first information report had not been recorded on his statement, was another circumstance taken against him. It was also stated that seeing the Tractor with the deceased on it being driven at a fast speed, it was an unnatural conduct on bis part that he did not ask the tractor driver to either to slow it down of to stop it. The Tribunal clearly fell in error here. What is significant to note is that the name of Paramjit Singh figures in the first information report as an eye-witness of the occurrence and this report was lodged within half an hour of the accident, that is, before there was any time for any deliberations to take place or any story to be concocted. The fact that the first information report was recorded on the statement of Magbar Singh and not Paramjit Singh cannot, in the circumstances, be treated as a matter of any consequence. Further, it was also not a reasonable assumption on the part of the Tribunal to except a passerby to shout out to the driver of a vehicle driven at a fast speed to either slow it or stop it. In the circumstances there was clearly no warrant for doubting the presence or the testimony of Paramjit Singh. In this behalf, it deserves note that counsel for the respondents could point to no infirmity in his statement with particular reference to his cross-examination, or even otherwise, to create any doubt therein.

9. Turning to the evidence led by the respondents, it would be seen that though R.W. 1 Chela denied that he was the driver of the tractor, it stands established on record and also admitted by him to be so that he was convicted by the Criminal Court in respect of this accident. Great stress here was sought to be laid on the fact that in appeal Chela was acquitted. Be that as it may, this circumstances does not detract from the doubt created in the credibility of Chela as a witness by his obvious lack of straight for wardness in deposing in this case. Further, the version of Kala that the deceased had jumped off the tractor and then died is not what was the plea put forth by the respondents in the written statement. Indeed, no counter-version was given by them. It is also not possible to accept the statement of this witness that he did not know the driver of the tractor, more so, when this driver had permitted them to sit on it.

10. When it stands established that the deceased was killed in an accident involving a tractor and the respondent No. 1 was convicted in respect thereof, even though later acquitted on appeal and there is then the testimony P.W. 5 Paramjit Singh with regard to the manner in which the accident occurred, there is no escape from the conclusion that the accident here must be held to have been caused by the rash and negligent driving of respondent Chela. The finding to the contrary of the Tribunal is consequently set aside.

11. Next arises the question relating to the amount payable to the claimants as compensation. It is now well settled that compensation in such cases has to be assessed in keeping with the principles laid down by the Full Bench in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur 1979 PX.R. 1. Considered in the light thereof, it will be seen that Charanjit Singh, deceased, was only 16 years of age and was a student in 8th class. It has also come in evidence that he was gainfully employed, in that, he was working in the agency which he and his brothers were running for the sale of coca cola. According to the claimants, his income from this source was Rs. 225/- per month. It would appear, however, that this was the income of all the brothers and not that of the deceased alone, as the agency was of all the brothers and no accounts have been produced to show that the income of the deceased was from this business.

12. Placed as the deceased was, there is every reason to expect that if he had lived, he would have been gainfully employed with even better prospects after completing his studies. Considering the status and position of the deceased and the claimants, therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that he could have earned to least about Rs. 500/- per month. Parents do indeed have a reasonable expectation of pecuniary support from their earning sons. Some amount would undoubtedly have been given by the deceased to his parents. In determining how much this amount would have been it, must also be borne in mind that in due course the deceased would have manied and raised a family and thereby a further burden would have been placed upon him of providing for his family. All things considered, therefore, it would be reasonable to assess the loss to the parents at the rate of Rs. 1500/- per annum. The parents of the deceased being only 46 and 42 years of age, respectively, 16 would clearly be the appropriate multiplier here. So computed, compensation payable to the claimants works out to Rs. 24,000/-. The claimants are accordingly awarded a sum of Rs. 24,000/- as compensation which shall be payable to them 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 liability for the payment of the amount awarded shall be of respondent No. 1 Ghela alias Sarjit Singh and respondent Amrik Singh, the owner of the tractor at the time of the accident.

13. This appeal is thus accepted with costs Counsel's fee Rs. 300/-.


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