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Delhi Transport Corporation and ors. Vs. Sharda Vasudev and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in2(1985)ACC357
AppellantDelhi Transport Corporation and ors.
RespondentSharda Vasudev and ors.
Cases ReferredK. Subramania Iyer v. T. Kunhikuttan Nair
Excerpt:
- - 3. it was alleged in the petition that the deceased had a good physique and had a history of longevity of life in the family. 14. in the present case, the tribunal after enunciating correctly the law on the subject has taken into consideration the good physique of the deceased at the time of death, his retirement age, the history of the longevity in the family of the deceased and has applied a multiplier of 20. no fault can be found with this conclusion. it is well established that credit can only be given for the value of any material benefits which will accrue to the claimants only as a result of the death and not otherwise......of the inducement to pay higher rate of interests and these interests have been going up from time to time. the adoption of interest theory assumes that the claimants will invest the amount of claim in the bank which will ensure the amount of monthly dependency. in this manner, the claimants while getting the monthly interest will also be having the capital investment in the bank as in tact. this argument may be further advanced for the purpose of further reduction in the total amount of compensation. to my mind, the interest theory is impracticable and unrealistic and will not be a proper yard stick for determining the correct amount of compensation.11. the interest theory was also not accepted in united india fired general insurance co- ltd. v. paflamparty indiramma and ors. 1982.....
Judgment:

N.N. Goswamy, J.

1. This judgment will dispose of F. A.O. No. 109 of 1980 as also F.A.O. No. 252 of 1980 as both these appeals are directed against the award dated 11th February 1980 passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Delhi. F.A.O. No. 109 of 1980 has been filed by the Delhi Transport Corporation and the Driver of the bus against the award while the other appeal has been filed by the claimants for the enhancement of compensation.

2. It was alleged by the claimants in their petition Under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act that on 18th April 1977 at about 10.25 p.m. the deceased was driving his two wheeler scooter No. DLM-9374 from his office towards his residence at a slow pace and was crossing marine crossing from Connaught Place side and was going towards Panchkuan Road when it was green signal for him, He had crossed 3/4th of the crossing when bus No. DLP-222 driven rashly, recklessly and negligently by appellant No. 2 in due course of bids employment when appellant No. 1 came from Madras Hotel side and without caring for red signal violently hit the scooter without blowing any horn. The bus hit front side of the scooter and dragged the scooter for some distance. In the process the deceased received grievous injuries which proved fatal as the deceased died during the same mid-night in the hospital. It was alleged that the driver of the bus was wholly and entirely responsible for causing the death of the deceased namely R.K. Vasudev. The accident was caused because the driver of the bus did not care to stop his bus even though there was a red signal at the crossing from his die.

3. It was alleged in the petition that the deceased had a good physique and had a history of longevity of life in the family. The deceased had joined M/s. Time Life Magazine in the year 1972 at the starting salary of Rs. 700/-per month and was getting periodical rise in his salary. He used to get rise in the salary approximately of Rs. 100/- every year. Besides his salary he was also getting over time allowance and during the year 1976-77 the deceased was paid over time to the extent of Rs. 5,800/-. It was further alleged that besides the salary which the deceased was drawing he was also working and supplying the paper to various parties and used to earn another sum of Rs. 400/- per month. The deceased also used to get one month's salary every year in lieu of leave. He was also entitled to other benefits incidental to the service. In all the deceased was making available to the claimants a sum of about Rs. 1,800/- per month. Considering the physique and longevity of life in the family, the deceased would have worked at least till the age of 70 years. The claimants thus claimed a total sum of Rs. 5,00,000/- as compensation.

4. The petition was contested by the Delhi Transport Corporation and the driver on various pleas. The rashness and negligence was attributed to the deceased and it was denied that the bus was traveling against the traffic signal. It was pleased that the bus was going in the right direction from the side of the Madras Hotel and when the bus reached the crossing of Panchkuan Road the light was blinking, the driver saw the traffic on both sides and finding the road to be clear, was proceeding in its right direction. The deceased entered the crossing from the inner circle of Connaught Circus from the right side of the bus driver at a very fast speed and as a result the accident in question took place.

5. On the pleadings of the parties, the following issues were framed:

1. Whether Shri Rama Kant received fatal injuries due to rash and negligent driving of bus No. DLP-222 on the part of respondent No. 2?

2. Whether the accident was due to negligence on the part of the deceased himself ?

3. Whether the petitioners are the legal representatives of the deceased ?

4. To what amount of compensation, if any, the petitioners are entitled and from whom ?

5. Relief.

6. Issues Nos. 1 and 2 being inter-connected were taken up together. Relying on the oral evidence of two eye witnesses and the site plan, the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the deceased was entering the Panchkuan Road when there was a green signal in his favor and the bus was coming without caring for the red signal from the side of the Madras Hotel. It was also found that the bus was traveling at a high speed inasmuch as it had dragged the scooter for some distance before it could stop. Consequently it was held that the accident took place due to rash and negligent driving on the part of the bus driver and no rashness and negligence whatsoever could be attributed to the deceased. The Tribunal also took into consideration the fact that the driver had been convicted by the Criminal Court.

7. I have been taken through the entire evidence particularly of the eye witnesses namely PW 6 and PW 11 as also (hat of the driver. On careful consideration of the evidence, I do not find any reason to interfere with the findings recorded by the Tribunal. In fact the learned Counsel, for the appellant, did not seriously press this issue and in my opinion fairly and rightly.

8. As regards issue No. 3, there is no doubt that the claimants are the only legal representatives of the deceased. In fact, no evidence to the contrary was produced by the appellants. The crucial issue is issue No. 4 on which the arguments were addressed by the learned Counsel, for the parties.

9. The age of the deceased was stated to be 42 years which fact was not disputed. From the evidence of PW 1, the employer of the deceased, it was shown that the basic salary of the deceased was Rs. 1,160/- and he had received a sum of Rs. 675/- as over time payment for the monthly immediately prior to the accident. It was also clear that the deceased was getting such over time allowance consistently for the last several years. In addition to the salary and over time the deceased had been getting a bonus of Rs. 580/- and the employer was contributing Rs. 116/- towards the provident fund. The retirement age af the deceased was stated to be 65 years. After deducting provident fund and the income-tax, the carry-home salary of the deceased was arrived at as Rs. 1,586/- per month. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that the deceased was spending on himself to the extent of 1/3rd of ihe amount and was contributing for the claimants to the extent of Rs. 1,084/- per month or Rs. 13,008/- per annum. Considering the retirement age and the history of longevity in the family, the Tribunal applied a multiplier of 20 and came to the conclusion that the claimants were entitled to Rs. 2,60,160/- as compensation. The Tribunal also considered certain deductions for acceleration of pecuniary gain and deducted a sum of Rs. 4,100/-from the amount which the claimants had received towards compensation, gratuity, the provident fund and Rs. 38,424/- being 15% of the awarded amount towards lump sum payment Thus the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the claimants were entitled to Rs. 2,17,736/-.

10. The contention the learned Counsel, for the appellant-corporation was that even if it has to be assumed that the claimants were to get Rs. 1,084/-per month, the amount awarded is excessive inasmuch as the normal bank rate of interest is anything from 10 to 12% per annum. If the claimants deposit a sum of Rs. 1 lac or so in a bank they would receive an interest of more than Rs. 1,000/- per month and would keep the amount of Rs. 1 lac secure. The support for this theory of interest was sought from Mayne on Damages 12th Edition and from Mallet's case reported as 1969 ACJ 312 The interest theory came up for consideration before a Full Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court in Vanguard Insurance Co. v. Naresh Kanta 1977 PLR 328 and it was observed

However, this interest theory cannot be adopted as an inflexible principle for the purpose of assessing the compensation especially in these days when the purchasing power in terms of money is being eroded after short intervals on account of run away inflation.

This matter again came up before a Full Bench of five judges of the same High Court in Lachhman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur . After referring to the Mallet's case (supra) it was observed in paragraph 21 of the report:

In present day India when our economy is not so highly developed as in western countries and the banking system has not taken deep roots especially in the villages, it is too unrealistic to adopt interest theory for determining the damages. In a large number of villages, there are neither any banks nor are the people accustomed to make investments therein. Besides, bank interest rates are not stable and static and the same go on fluctuating in view of the inflationary trends in the economy. Only a decade back the normal bank interest rate did not exceed 4%. As inflation in course of time becomes an essential part of the economy, the banks, in order to mop up the surplus money in the hands of the people, contrived of the inducement to pay higher rate of interests and these interests have been going up from time to time. The adoption of interest theory assumes that the claimants will invest the amount of claim in the bank which will ensure the amount of monthly dependency. In this manner, the claimants while getting the monthly interest will also be having the capital investment in the bank as in tact. This argument may be further advanced for the purpose of further reduction in the total amount of compensation. To my mind, the interest theory is impracticable and unrealistic and will not be a proper yard stick for determining the correct amount of compensation.

11. The interest theory was also not accepted in United India Fired General Insurance Co- Ltd. v. Paflamparty Indiramma and Ors. 1982 ACJ 521 I am in respectful agreement with the cases referred to above and I am firmly of the opinion that the interest theory is not appropriate taking into consideration the conditions in India where the inflation is at a very high rate and the rise in salaries and allowances is equally at the said high rate.

12. It is not necessary to refer to the various decisions regarding the quantification of damages. In CK. Subramania Iyer v. T. Kunhikuttan Nair : [1970]2SCR688 , it was observed:

There can be no exact uniform rule for measuring the value of the human life and the measure of damages cannot be arrived at by precise mathematical calculations, but the amount recoverable depends on the particular facts and circumstances of each case. The life expectancy of the deceased or of the beneficiaries whichever is shorter is an important factor. Since the elements which go to make up the value of the life of the deceased to the designated beneficiaries are necessarily personal to each other, in the very nature of things, there can be no exact or uniform rule for measuring the value of human life. In assessing damages the Court must exclude all considerations of matter which rest in speculation or fancy though conjecture to some extent is inevitable.

13. In Lachhman Singh's case (supra) The Full Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court after discussing the various judgments of the Supreme Court and other Courts came to the conclusion:

From a close scrutiny of the various judgments of the Supreme Court as referred to above, it can be safely held to have been settled that in order to determine the quantum of damages in case of fatal accidents, a basic figure indicative of the annual loss to the dependents from the premature death has to be arrived at. This amount has to be worked out not only on the basis of the salary or earning of the deceased at the time of the accident but also by taking into consideration the entire relevant data regarding the future prospects of increase in the course of employment or business, as the case may be. This basic figure has then to be converted into a lump sura by applying a suitable multiplier, In order to arrive at the correct multiplier, a number of factors which have been indicated in various judgments, as discussed above, have to be borne in mind. Whereas the Courts in England have so far gone to the extent of multiplying the basic figure of the annual dependency by 16 years' purchase, the Supreme Court approved in one case 20 times as suitable multiplier.

14. In the present case, the Tribunal after enunciating correctly the law on the subject has taken into consideration the good physique of the deceased at the time of death, his retirement age, the history of the longevity in the family of the deceased and has applied a multiplier of 20. No fault can be found with this conclusion. However, there is one aspect which needs to be considered. According to the statement of PW 1, the employer of the deceased, it is an established fact that the claimants were paid Rs. 38,000/-towards compensation for the death of the deceased. According to PW 1, this compensation was payable when there was a death of an employee on duty. Thus the compensation was as a result of the death of the deceased which the claimants would not have got but for the said death. It is well established that credit can only be given for the value of any material benefits which will accrue to the claimants only as a result of the death and not otherwise. Thus this sum of Rs. 38,000/- had to be adjusted from the compensation which was determined by the Tribunal. The Tribunal has further deducted 15% from the compensation determined which comes to Rs. 38,424/- for the lump sum payment which was to be made to the claimants. The Tribunal has not taken into consideration the evidence of PW 1 to the effect that the deceased would have got regular increments and would have reached a basic pay of Rs. 3,000/- in 1987. The future prospects have completely been ignored if the future prospects have to be taken into consideration, the question of deducting any amount from the lump sum to be paid, does not arise. I think future prospects should be taken into consideration or it should be treated as an adjustment towards the lump sum payment as both cannot be resorted to. In these circumstances, the sum of Rs. 38,000/-paid as compensation by the employer can safely be adjusted towards the deduction of Rs. 38,424/- as done by the Tribunal. In the circumstances, the amount awarded by the Tribunal is to be maintained,

15. For the reasons recorded above, I am of the opinion that the amount awarded by the Tribunal is a fair compensation and does not call for any interference by this Court. Consequently both the appeals are hereby dismissed and the award of the Tribunal is maintained as indicated, In the circumstances, the parties are left to bear their own costs in this Court.


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