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Smt. Kochupennu Lakshmi Vs. the Chairman, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, Trivandrum - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.P. No. 728 of 1983-S
Judge
Reported inII(1984)ACC181; AIR1984Ker97
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110A; Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 - Sections 1A and 2
AppellantSmt. Kochupennu Lakshmi
RespondentThe Chairman, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, Trivandrum
Appellant Advocate K.S. Rajamony and; M. Lalitha Nair, Advs.
Respondent Advocate George Mathew Kalappurakkal, Adv.
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredState Insurance Officer v. Thankamma
Excerpt:
- .....enable dependants of a person whose death has been caused by wrongful act, neglect or default to claim compensation. but for that act there would be no case for the heirs of a deceased to claim compensation on account of death caused by wrongful act. it is to meet this situation fatal accidents act has been enacted. it enables the dependants, namely, the wife, husband, parent and child of the person whose death has been caused, to claim loss resulting to them from such death. had the deceased lived his normal span of life he would have been of benefit to the dependants. that benefit they have lost by the reason of the death and it is to compensate them for loss of such benefits that provisions in section 1a has been made. the estate would lose on the death of such person only if after.....
Judgment:

Subbamonian Poti, C.J.

1. That the provisions of law conferring rights on parties are of no consequence to those who have no means to avail themselves of the benefit of such law is more than evident from the facts of the case before us. A Harijan lady who lost her husband in an accident on 19-3-1978 petitioned to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation for payment of compensation due on account of the death of her husband. It was a bus belonging to the Corporation that caused the accident resulting in the death of the petitioner's husband and another person. She laments in the petition that only a sum of Rupees 1,000/- was paid to her, that, she had to leave her house at the Harijan Colony, Pulimathu and take shelter in somebody else's house and that she has no means to resort to a court or a tribunal or pay fees to counsel.

2. It is further mentioned that two years prior to the date of her petition the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation offered to pay her Rs. 10,000/- but that would only be on production of succession certificate from court. She is unable to move a court and get succession certificate for the reason that she has no money to pay fee for moving the court or to meet the expenses for such proceedings. She has produced a certificate from the Panchayat President, but according to her a secession certificate from a court was insisted upon. She is aware that had she approached the Tribunal appointed to try claims for compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act she may get a much higher sum, but even the amount of Rs. 10,000/- she is how unable to get. So she has petitioned to his Court by a letter that some orders may be passed enabling her to get the amount.

3. We issued notice on this to the counsel for the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation and have heard him. Shri K. S. Rajamony volunteered to appear for the petitioner and to assist us he has presented the petitioner's case.

4. No doubt the stand taken by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation cannot be said to be unreasonable prima facie. But there is evidently an error in the approach to the matter by the Corporation. If it were a case of the petitionersucceeding to the estate of her deceased husband and claiming compensation as heir, no doubt, as the law stands today the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation may insist on the production of a succession certificate. It is for the Legislature to deal with the matter by enabling payments to be made at least in respect of small sums of money, without a succession certificate being required to give immunity to the debtor. We are not going into that question in this case, for, even otherwise we think we will be able to give relief to the petitioner herein.

5. The assumption that a succession certificate is necessary for payment of compensation to the dependants of a person who dies on account of accident is evidently not correct. In two decisions of this Court in State Insurance Officer v. Thankamma (1980 Ker LT 562) the scheme of the Indian Fatal Accidents Act has been adverted to. Evidently that enactment is brought into existence to enable dependants of a person whose death has been caused by wrongful act, neglect or default to claim compensation. But for that Act there would be no case for the heirs of a deceased to claim compensation on account of death caused by wrongful act. It is to meet this situation Fatal Accidents Act has been enacted. It enables the dependants, namely, the wife, husband, parent and child of the person whose death has been caused, to claim loss resulting to them from such death. Had the deceased lived his normal span of life he would have been of benefit to the dependants. That benefit they have lost by the reason of the death and it is to compensate them for loss of such benefits that provisions in Section 1A has been made. The estate would lose on the death of such person only if after meeting the expenses for himself and his dependants there would have been surplus in his hands. Such accumulated surplus would have been available on his death. In that event it would have passed on to his heirs as part of his estate. What would he inherited by his estate is entirely different from what would have been obtained by the dependants during his lifetime. Section 2 of the Fatal Accidents Act provides for the claim by the estate of any pecuniary loss to the estate. It is hence evident that a claim under Section 1A, namely a claim by the depend ants, is not as legal representatives of the deceased, but on their own account.It is compensation for loss caused to them by the death of the deceased secured to them as a statutory right under Section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act, If so there is no question of any succession being relied on in respect of such claim. A succession certificate can be sought only where, on the death of the person the right devolves on the applicant as a legal representative. That being not the case here the dependants are entitled to make the claim on their own account. Therefore, there is no question of producing any succession certificate.

6. The learned counsel for the Corporation submitted that in that event the Corporation will be put to the necessity of finding out who the dependants are and that will be a responsibility on their part. Of course that will be a responsibility, a responsibility they must take up. If law entitles the parties to claim compensation in accordance with the Act the fact that there would be difficulty on the part of the Corporation to determine whether it could be paid to the applicants before it may not be an answer. In a case where the Corporation has material before it which could normally satisfy a reasonable person that all the dependants are agreed on the receipt of the amount so much so there is no question of apportionment arising there should be no objection whatsoever to the payment of the compensation. In a case where the Corporation wants to make an enquiry it could make such enquiry and for that purpose call upon the applicants to produce supporting material such as certificate from the Tahsildar. In the case before us the problem is easy. The accident took place evidently more than 5 years earlier and it is not disputed that there was no rival claimant. The petitioner is the sole claimant and she has also produced material to support her claim. In the absence of any other rival claimant for all these years there could now be no case of any risk involved in paying over the amount to the petitioner. One-third of the amount may be paid to the petitioner straightway. The other one-third each shall be deposited in the name of her son and daughter separately which they could operate on their attaining majority. The interest on the money so deposited can be drawn by the mother, the petitioner. The deposit may be made on intimation being given of this by the petitioner tothe Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.


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