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Chanderwati and ors. Vs. Universal Fire and General Insurance Companyand ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 33 of 1973
Judge
Reported inII(1985)ACC150; [1987]62CompCas315(Delhi); 28(1985)DLT114
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110A
AppellantChanderwati and ors.
RespondentUniversal Fire and General Insurance Companyand ors.
Advocates: P.P. Tripathi,; S.K. Kaul,; S.C. Sharda and ;
Cases ReferredPiyush Kanti Ghosh v. Smt. Maya Rani Chatterjee and Ors.
Excerpt:
- - it has been held by various courts that although conviction in a criminal case did not per se result into the liability of the driver, there would be strong burden on the driver after his conviction to show that there was no negligence or rashness on his part......of motor accident claims tribunal, delhi. the tribunal has dismissed the claim of the claimants. prem prakash died as a result of the accident. the claimants are the widow and five children-three daughters and two sons. (2) the accident took place on 26-8-1965 in the afternoon near house no. a-4/3, on the main road of krishna nagar, jheel kuranja, gandhi nagar, delhi. the deceased prem prakash was going on his cycle from jheel kuranja to krishna nagar and when be was on the main road opposite house no. a-4/3, krishna nagar, a truck bearing number dlg 9242 came from behind in a great speed and knocked down prem prakash. the truck did not stop but speeded away from the place of accident the deceased was run over by the truck. he suffered serious multiple injuries and was taken to irwin.....
Judgment:

S.B. Wad, J.

(1) This is the First Appeal filed by the claimants against the order of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Delhi. The Tribunal has dismissed the claim of the claimants. Prem Prakash died as a result of the accident. The claimants are the widow and five children-three daughters and two sons.

(2) The accident took place on 26-8-1965 in the afternoon near house No. A-4/3, on the main road of Krishna Nagar, Jheel Kuranja, Gandhi Nagar, Delhi. The deceased Prem Prakash was going on his cycle from Jheel Kuranja to Krishna Nagar and when be was on the main road opposite house No. A-4/3, Krishna Nagar, a truck bearing number Dlg 9242 came from behind in a great speed and knocked down Prem Prakash. The truck did not stop but speeded away from the place of accident The deceased was run over by the truck. He suffered serious multiple injuries and was taken to Irwin Hospital where he died. The claimants claimed the compensation of Rs. 50,000.00 . It was stated that the deceased was carrying on business of Kiriana and was earning about Rs. 500.00 per month. At the time of his death Prem Prakash was 35 years old.

(3) The fact of accident has been established by two eye witnesses, Hanuman Prasad (Public Witness 2) and Om Prakash (Public Witness 7). They have stated that the truck came from behind in a great speed without giving any horn and knocked down the deceased Prem Prakash. After knocking down the deceased the truck did not stop but speeded away. Within a short-while Flying Squad of the Traffic Police came to the spot and recorded the statements of the two eye witnesses. The Flying Squad there after chased the truck, arrested the driver and prosecuted him. After the arrest of the driver, he was dismissed from the service by the owner of the truck. In the criminal case the Driver was convicted. An appeal was filed against the conviction but the same was dismissed.

(4) The counsel for the appellants has taken me through the evidence on record. The evidence of the eye witnesses is quite convincing and truthful. Nothing has been elicited in the cross-examination to disprove the versions given by them. The only question which remained to be answered was the identity of the truck. The eye witnesses could not note down the registration number of the truck. For the purpose of this appeal the judgment of conviction in the criminal case is irrelevant and is admissible under section 43 of the Evidence Act. In other words it cannot be said that on the basis of the conviction in the criminal case the Tribunal can straightaway hold the Driver guilty of rash and negligent driving. It must be established in civil case, on the basis of the evidence on record, that the Driver was rash and negligent in the driving. It has been held by various courts that although conviction in a criminal case did not per se result into the liability of the Driver, there would be strong burden on the Driver after his conviction to show that there was no negligence or rashness on his part. In the present case the Driver had not appeared before the Tribunal. However, in the criminal case the Driver was identified. The identification of the truck became possible because of the flying squad chasing the truck immediately after the accident and apprehending the Driver. It is not the case here that the accident took place at a different place or there was a different victim or there was a different driver involved in the case. On the facts of this case I would hold that the identity of the Driver and identity of the truck was established. The learned counsel for the appellants Mr. Tripathi has referred to me some decisions on the question of the relevancy of the judgment of the criminal courts, and has submitted that at least for a limited purpose of the identification of the vehicle and the Driver the judgment of the criminal case should be looked into. The counsel for the respondents has also referred to me two decisions. I do not find it necessary to lay down the specific rules but on the facts of this case I have no hesitation in holding that the identity of the Driver of the vehicle was established. The Tribunal has committed a grave error in not appreciating the fact that the truck was pursued by the flying squad and the arrest of the Driver was made, within the short time. The finding of the Tribunal that the identity of the truck was not established is thus erroneous and is set aside.

(5) Another question raised in the appeal which was decided against the appellants is that the petition is barred by limitation. The accident took place on 26-8-1965 and the petition was filed on 27th October, 1965. At the relevant time the period of sixty days was prescribed for filing the petition under section 110-A. The counsel for the respondents submits that there was the delay of one day and the application for condensation of delay was not filed by the claimants. I am not impressed by the submissions of the counsel for the respondents in this respect. Mr. Tripathi, counsel for the appellants, has rightly pointed out that the provision of the time duration in section 110-A is not the limitation of period as is understood by the Limitation Act. In support of his contention he has cited some decisions. He has referred to Piyush Kanti Ghosh v. Smt. Maya Rani Chatterjee and Ors. : AIR1971Cal229 , a Db judgment in support of his contention. The position of law is fairly clear. The object of section 110 and the requirements of payment of compensation to the victim of accidents in all cases, takes the matter beyond the normal technicality of the Limitation Act. Now the period for filing the claim petition is raised to six months. This was necessary because the relations of the victims may not be in the mental frame to rush to the court to prefer the claim. It might also mean arranging the funds for prosecuting the matters in the court. The counsel for the appellants has brought to my notice the fact that the widow is an illiterate lady and the other claimants were minor sons and daughters. The fact that no application for condensation of delay was made, to my mind, is not material at all because the period of sixty days is not the limitation and the provisions of the Limitation Act cannot strictly be applicable to such cases. The delay is hardly of one day in this matter and the family of the victim who has suffered such a heavy loss cannot be thrown out of the court merely on the basis of the technicality of delay. The finding of the Tribunal on the question of delay is patently erroneous and is set aside.

(6) The next question is about the payment of compensation to the family members of the deceased. From the evidence on record I hold that the Driver of the vehicle and the owner are responsible for rash and negligent driving resulting into the death of Prem Prakash. Prem Prakash was getting around Rs. 450.00 per month at the time of his death. He was only 35. Even according to the normal expectancy of life he would have lived for another 25 years. On the basis of the said income and life expectancy the amount of compensation would come to about Rs. 1,00,000.00 . However, the claimants have claimed only Rs. 50,000.00 as the compensation. Considering the fact that the widow and five minor children (three daughters and two sons) are to be compensated the amount of Rs. 50.000.00 claimed by the claimants is less than reasonable amount and is most meagre. The daughters and sons were to be educated and provision for their marriages had to be made by the victims. I am, thereforee, inclined to grant the interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum on the amount of Rs. 50,000.00 from the date of the application till the date of realisation. I, thereforee, make an award of Rs. 50,000.00 and interest @ l2% per annum from the date of the application to the date of realisation. The Insurance Company has been contesting the matter on behalf of the owner also. That is because the liability was an unlimited liability under the policy. In these circumstances. Respondent No. I, Insurance Company is liable to pay the compensation and the interest as awarded by me. Since the claimants who were minors at the time of the accident have now become major, it may be necessary to settle their respective claims in the matter. The Insurance Company would, thereforee, draw up a crossed cheque of the compensation amount and the interest in the name of the Registrar of this Court. The Registrar shall after summoning all the claimants make the necessary payments after considering their respective claims.

(7) For the reasons stated above, the appeal is allowed with costs.


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