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Smt. Ganga Devi and ors. Vs. Municipal Corporation of Delhi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.O. 14/1972
Judge
Reported inILR1980Delhi360
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939
AppellantSmt. Ganga Devi and ors.
RespondentMunicipal Corporation of Delhi and ors.
Appellant Advocate R.K. Mathur, Ad
Respondent Advocate V.P. Nanda, Adv.
DispositionAppeal partly allowed
Excerpt:
.....was caused due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver. due to the accident an electric pole was bent and the bulb was broken and there were scratches on the middle portion of the bus; which makes it clear that the bus must have struck the pole. the death of the deceased was caused due to the rash and negligent driving of the driver.;2. regarding the amounts being given by the deceased to his wife, there is no reason why the statements of the wife and father should be disbelieved. the annual help being rendered by the deceased was rs. 720/- at the rate of rs. 60/- per month.;3. although no evidence was led on behalf of the appellants to establish longevity in the family of the deceased, the life expectancy should be taken to be 55 years (f.a.o. 198-d of 1964 decided..........as believed by the motor accident claims tribunal, shows that the deceased was standing near the electric pole adjacent to the aforesaid d.t.u. bus stand. the bus in question stopped at the bus stop and some passengers got down and one or two entered the bus. according to p.w. 8 krishan lal, constable no. 221, who was on duty at that place on that day and was an eye witness to the accident, the driver thereafter started the bus at a fast speed. the deceased was standing about 8 yards ahead of the bus on the left side of the bus. as usually happens in delhi the deceased gave a hand signal to stop the bus and as usually happens more often than not the driver, of course, refused to stop. it appears that the driver swerved the bus and in the process the middle portion of the bus struck the.....
Judgment:

B.N. Kirpal, J.

1. This is an unfortunate case of a young man of 23 years who was working in the C.P.W.D. at a salary of Rs. 120/- per month and was killed in a road accident. The deceased Hira Ballabh was killed by bus No. DLP 138 at 8 A.M. on 3rd August, 1965 near the D.T.U. bus stand in front of Safdarjung Aerodrome. The bus was proceeding from Mehrauli to Connaught Place at the time when the accident took place. The deceased left behind appellant No. 1, his widow and appellants Nos. 2 and 3, who were his parents.

2. The evidence on record, and as believed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, shows that the deceased was standing near the electric pole adjacent to the aforesaid D.T.U. bus stand. The bus in question stopped at the bus stop and some passengers got down and one or two entered the bus. According to P.W. 8 Krishan Lal, Constable No. 221, who was on duty at that place on that day and was an eye witness to the accident, the driver thereafter started the bus at a fast speed. The deceased was standing about 8 yards ahead of the bus on the left side of the bus. As usually happens in Delhi the deceased gave a hand signal to stop the bus and as usually happens more often than not the driver, of course, refused to stop. It appears that the driver swerved the bus and in the process the middle portion of the bus struck the deceased as well as the electric pole where he was standing. The evidence show that the deceased fell on the road and the impact was so great that the electric bulb of the pole broke and the pole itself got bent. The deceased was removed to the hospital but he succumbed to his injuries.

3. The appellants herein filed an application before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal claiming compensation of Rs. 25,000/-. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, on the pleadings of the parties, framed the following issues :--

(1) Whether the accident resulting into the death of Shri Hira Ballabh was due to rash and negligent driving on the part of respondent No. 3 ?

(2) Whether the petitioners are legal rep. of the deceased?

(3) To what amount, if any, are the petitioners entitled?

(4) Whether the application is not maintainable without notice under section 478 DMC Act ?

(5) Relief.

4. The Tribunal vide its order dated 5th November, 1971 awarded a compensation of Rs. 7680/- against the respondents with costs. All the issues mentioned above were decided in favor of the appellants herein.

5. Being aggrieved with the quantum of compensation awarded, the appellants have filed the present appeal. It is contended that the longevity of 55 years instead of 43 years, as adopted by the Tribunal, should have been accepted and it is further contended that there was no basis as to why the amount of compensation should be arrived at by scaling down any quantum worked out on the basis of the longevity merely by reason of the fact that lump sum payment was being made. The respondent-Corporation has filed cross-objections and it has been contended by Mr. Nanda on its behalf that the appeal filed by the appellants should be dismissed and the claim of the appellants should be rejected in toto and the cross-objections allowed.

6. The main controversy which arises in this case is as to whether the accident was caused due to the rash and negligent driving on the part of the driver. The two versions which were placed before the Tribunal were, as pleaded by the appellants, that the deceased was struck by the bus in question when he was standing near the electric pole. The version put forward by the respondents, while relying upon the evidence of R.W.1 Inderjit Singh, Traffic Inspector, on the other hand was that the deceased had boarded the bus and some portion of his body struck against the said electric pole and he fell down. The said witness further stated that no portion of the bus came into contact with the electric pole. In my opinion the Tribunal was right in rejecting the evidence of RW1 and in believing the version stated by Krishan Lal PW8 as being correct. It is not disputed that the electric pole was bent as a result of the accident and the electric bulb had broken. It is also seen that there were scratches on the middle portion of the bus. This clearly shows that the bus must have struck against the electric pole. If this be so the evidence of R.W.1 Inderjit Singh cannot be accepted. It is difficult to believe that the electric pole will be damaged by such an accident and the scratches on the bus would be present merely if a portion of the body of the deceased had struck against the pole. In my opinion the version of the accident as given by PW8 Krishan Lal is correct. The inescapable conclusion, thereforee, is that the death of the deceased was caused due to the rash and negligent driving of the driver.

7. The only other argument which has been addressed before me is with regard to the quantum of the compensation which should be paid. The Tribunal has referred to the statement of the father of the deceased who said that the deceased used to send about Rs. 60 to 70 per month to appellant No. 1. To the same effect was the statement made by appellant No. 1 herself. It is an admitted fact that the deceased was getting a salary of Rs. 120.50 per month. Another witness who was examined, namely, Prema Nand, has been referred to by the Tribunal and it was observed that the said witness's statement revealed that the deceased was spending about Rs. 40/- on his food besides clothes and conveyance etc. I fail to understand as to how the Claims Tribunal came to the conclusion, in the face of the aforesaid evidence, that the deceased must be giving help to the other members of the family only to the extent of Rs. 40/-per month. The figure of Rs. 40/- arrived at by the Tribunal is not based on any evidence on record. I see no reason as to why the statement of the father as well as the widow, which statements were unrebutted, should have been disbelieved. In my opinion the inescapable conclusion was that the deceased was sending Rs. 60/- per month to his widow. The annual help thus being rendered by him was approximately Rs. 720/-.

8. The next question which arises for consideration is as to what was the life expectancy. It is most unfortunate that no evidence was led on behalf of the appellants to establish the longevity in the family. The Tribunal is right in observing that in the absence of such evidence the average life expectancy has to be considered. Mr. Justice Ansari in F.A.Q. No. 198-D of 1964, decided on 8th September, 1971, held that in normal circumstances life expectancy in such cases could not be less than 55 years. In that case the deceased was a Mohharrir of a terminal tax post who was aged 40 years and was earning Rs. 122/-per month. The Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs. 10,000/- to his widow and three minor children in that case. In my opinion the said judgment provides a safe guide and in this case also the life expectancy should be taken to be 55 years.

9. The deceased, as already stated hereinabove, was 23 years of age at the time of his death. Taking the life expectancy to be 55 years, 32 years' income has accordingly to be capitalised. It is the contention of Mr. Mathur on behalf of the appellants that the Court should take into consideration the fact that in due course of time the deceased would have got increments. There is, unfortunately, no such evidence on record. Making the calculation by capitalising the aforesaid amount of help i.e. Rs. 720/- per annum on the basis that the life expectancy was 55 years, the amount of compensation would come to Rs. 23,040/-. I am in agreement with the learned counsel for the appellants that there is no basis as to why any deduction should be made from the aforesaid figure, for any alleged acceleration. The Tribunal has relied upon the decision in Amarjit Kaur and others v. Vanguard Insurance Co. Ltd. and others, 1969 A.C.J. 286. In that case it was held that as the amount which would have been received by the dependent every month, if the deceased had survived was paid immediately in a lump sum some scaling down had to be made for such acceleration. No reason, however, appears to be given as to why this was so except that at the interest rate of 3-1/2 per cent per annum paid by the Savings Banks, an amount of money is likely to be increased by about 50 per cent, if interest is added to it for 15 years. It was on this basis that a deduction of 33-1/2 per cent was made. In the present case, however, no allowance is being made for the increments which the deceased would have earned. The deceased was a Government employee and it cannot be denied that with the passage of time even if he had not been promoted he would have obtained increments. Furthermore, one has to keep in view the high rate of inflation as a result of which Government has been revising the emoluments payable to its employees. Even though under certain circumstances the principle of scaling down on the ground of accelerated receipt of money may be applicable, in the present case, however, I am of the opinion that no scaling down should be resorted to.

10. I accordingly allow the appeal in part and make an award of Rs. 23,040/-. The cross-objections filed on behalf of the respondents are dismissed. The appellants will be entitled to their costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 500/-.


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