Skip to content


Suraj NaraIn and anr. and New India Assurance Company and anr. Vs. Kumari Sneh Lata JaIn and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.B. Civil Misc. Appeal Nos. 53 and 64 of 1978
Judge
Reported in[1987]62CompCas486(Raj)
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1931 - Sections 92(2) and 95(2); Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 95(2)
AppellantSuraj NaraIn and anr. and New India Assurance Company and anr.
RespondentKumari Sneh Lata JaIn and ors.
Appellant Advocate R.S. Mehta, Adv. for Suraj Narain, in S.B.C.M.A. No. 53 of 1978 and; H.M. Bhargava and;
Respondent Advocate Vimal Chaudhary, Adv. for; V.K. Bandhu, Adv.
Cases ReferredSushma Mitra v. M. P. State Road Transport Corporation
Excerpt:
- - jadavji keshavji modi [1981] acj 507; [1982] 52 comp cas 454 (sc), now, it is well established law that 'any one accident' means accident to 'anyone' and, therefore, the liability of the insurance company is not limited to rs. in some of the states like tamil nadu, even when the claimants do not file claim petitions, the tribunals are required to grant damages and compensation......in the claim petition that the driver of the vehicle, rrl 3804, was negligent or rashly drove the vehicle. shri bhargava also submitted that there was no evidence to this extent and whatever evidence was produced was not believed so far as the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver of vehicle no. rrl 3804 is concerned. in view of this, shri bhargava submitted that even one-third liability fastened on vehicle no. rrl 3804 deserves to be set aside.20. i have considered the contention of shri bhargava. it is true that the allegations in the claim petition were not there, but i am not impressed on this point and, however, the owner of vehicle no. rrl 3804 was made party to the claim petition so far as the liability on the basis of the doctrine enunciated in the decision of the madhya.....
Judgment:

Guman Mal Lodha, J.

1. These two appeals have been filed against the award of the Accidents Claims Tribunal, Jaipur, in Accident Claims Case No. 11 of 1977. The accident took place on September 16, 1972. Kumari Sneh Lata was travelling in bus No. RRL 8548 and was coming to Jaipur from Veer Hanuman Samod village. Bus No. RRL 8548 was being driven by Surajnarain, driver. In the south of Chemu village at a distance of one mile, another bus No. RRL 3804 which was being driven by Tarachand, driver, collided with bus No. RRL 8548. Bus No. RRL 8548 after the accident struck a telephone pole. Kumari Sneh Lata who was travelling in bus No. 8548 was injured and her right hand was completely cut and she fell down on the ground.

2. A claim for Rs. 1,31,000 was made by Sneh Lata. Bus No RRL 8548 and No. RRL 3804, both are insured with M/s. Anand Insurance Co., Jaipur, a unit of M/s. New India Insurance Co. separately.

3. The Tribunal, after recording of the evidence, came to the conclusion that Sneh Lata's right hand was cut in this accident and at the time of the accident, Kumari Sneh Lata's hand was outside and on account of the impact of the accident, it was struck and cut. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that the driver of bus No. RRL 8548 was driving the bus rashly and negligently and Sneh Lata was not asked to keep her hand inside, if it was outside or, her hand was projecting outside the window.

4. After holding the driver of bus No. RRL 8548 responsible and liable due to negligence and rashness, the Tribunal then considered the case of bus No. RRL 3804. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that both the buses in the middle of the road dashed against each other from the sides as they passed closely. The Tribunal then observed that although Sneh Lata had not alleged any negligence of the bus driver (No. RRL 3804) from the defence it is established that the two buses dashed from the sides by crossing each other and, in that process, the hand was cut.

5. The Tribunal observed that it was the duty of the driver of bus No. RRL 3804 to keep the vehicle at such a distance from the vehicle coming from the opposite direction so that they can safely cross each other at some distance without any risk to the passengers. In this connection, reliance was placed on the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Sushma Mitra v. M. P. State Road Transport Corporation [1974] ACJ 87 ; AIR 1974 MP 68, In this judgment, their Lordships observed that normally, when buses are plied and the passengers sitting inside the buses go on a long journey, they are bound to rest their elbows on the window-sill and this must be taken into account by any driver of a vehicle for the purpose of negotiating his vehicle in motion so as to avoid risk to the passengers. Ifthis precaution is not taken, it would be tantamount to negligence. Relying on this doctrine enunciated by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Tribunal observed that the drivers are guilty of composite and contributory negligence.

6. However, while fixing the liability, the Tribunal observed that the liability of the driver of bus No. RRL 8548 is two-thirds and one-third for bus No. RRL 3804. Shri Mehta, appearing for the appellant, Suraj Narain, has argued, firstly, that the finding of negligence and rashness is not justified, so far as bus No. RRL 8548 is concerned.

7. I have carefully perused the evidence in this respect. It appears that the Tribunal has placed reliance rightly on the evidence of Sneh Lata, Kailashnarain and Ramkishore, in holding that the driver of bus No. RRL 3804 was driving with a high speed and was guilty of rashness. Shri Mehta emphasised that both the driver and conductor stated that they asked Sneh Lata to get her elbow inside the bus but she did not pay any heed to their directions and request. This part of the statement has been rightly disbelieved by the Tribunal.

8. The second point, which is much more important and which has been argued by Shri Mehta, is that in view of the decision of the apex Court in Motor Owners' Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jadavji Keshavji Modi [1981] ACJ 507; [1982] 52 Comp Cas 454 (SC), now, it is well established law that 'any one accident' means accident to 'anyone' and, therefore, the liability of the insurance company is not limited to Rs. 5,000 only. This point raises an important question regarding Section 95(2) and further sub- Clause (4) as it was earlier to the amendment of 1982 (Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1982). Section 95(2)(b)(ii)(4), as it stood earlier to 1982, read as under:

'(4) subject to the limits aforesaid, ten thousand rupees for each individual passenger where the vehicle is a motor cab, and five thousand rupees for each individual passengers in any other case. '

9. Shri Mehta wants me to interpret Section 95 in such a manner that sub-clause (4) of Clause (ii) of Sub-section (2)(b) of Section 95 is wholly and completely to be ignored. According to him, once the apex Court has held that under Sub-section (2) of Section 95, there is an expression ' in respect of any one accident ', which means ' accident to any one ', then it logically follows that the liability would be governed by the riders put in sub-clauses (1), (2) and (3) of Sub-section (2)(b)(ii) of Section 95 ; and Sub-clause (4) is to be ignored.

10. I am unable to accept the above contention of Shri Mehta for the simple reason that the established principle of the ' interpretation of statute ' is that the Legislature would be assumed to have never usedany superfluous words or phrases. Here, Shri Mehta wants me to ignore Sub-clause (4) completely. If Sub-clause (4) is given effect to, it would mean that apart from the rider of Clause (ii) and its various parts or Sub-clauses (l), (2) and (3), there is a further rider of Sub-clause (4). This would be clear from the illustrations which I am giving now ; suppose, a bus is insured for the carriage of 30 passengers only, then the limit would be Rs. 50,000. However, each passenger would not get more than Rs. 5,000. In case all the 30 passengers are insured, then the liability of the owner of the vehicle would be Rs. 30X5,000 = 1,50,000 but the liability of the insurance company would be only to the extent of Rs. 50,000. The ceiling of Rs. 50,000 is for the whole of the liability. But, there is a ceiling of Rs. 5,000 in case of passengers in a vehicle other than motor cab as enshrined in Sub-clause (4), thus the insurance company would beliable to pay Rs. 5,000 for each individual passenger travelling in bus as is covered by Section 95(2)(b)(ii)(4) of the Motor Vehicles Act.

11. In the decision of Motor Owners' Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jadavji Keshavji Modi [1981] ACJ 507; [1982] 52 Comp Cas 454 (SC), in para 24, their Lordships of the Supreme Court, leaving the question open, observed as under (at page 468}:

' Different considerations may arise under Clause (b), as amended by Act 56 of 1969, but we do not propose to make any observations on that aspect of the matter, since it does not directly arise before us.'

12. Thus, it would be clear that the above point canvassed by Shri Mehta before me was not decided by their Lordships of the Supreme Court.

13. In fact, I have tried to persuade myself to accept the viewpoint of Shri Mehta as it would be in consonance with equity and justice but, I find, it would be doing violence to Sub-clause (4) and as long as the Legislature fails to delete Sub-clause (4), I feel helpless, in giving a liberal interpretation which would have certainly benefited the injured when taking the compensation from the insurance company.

14. It would now be for the Legislature to make proper amendments by deletion of Sub-clause (4) or by making suitable amendments in Sub-section (2) of Section 95, so that certain anomalies of liability in cases of passengers who pay hire as against the persons who are carried otherwise is removed. In the present case, a person in a bus who is not carried for hire or reward but is carried otherwise, would get compensation up to Rs. 50,000 from the insurance company but curiously enough a passenger who pays the bus fare would have disadvantage as Sub-clause (4) would limit the quantum of compensation to Rs. 5,000 or 10,000 only, as the case may be.

15. This obviously requires legislative interference.

16. Shri Mehta then argued that, according to the insurance policy, the liability was up to Rs. 50,000 for each person.

17. I have perused the insurance policy. The limits of the liability where Rs. 50,000 has been mentioned, also mentions endorsements Nos. 16, 31 and 13 attached to it. They relate to the liability to the passengers and exclude the liability for the employees of the insured arising out of and in the course of their employment. Endorsement No. 16 mentions the legal liability to persons employed in connection with the operation and/or maintenance and/or loading and/or unloading of motor vehicles. Endorsement No. 31 is meant for hired cars and hirer driving.

18. Obviously, Sneh Lata cannot come in any one of these categories and her liability is limited to Rs. 50,000 so far as the insurance company is concerned for the purposes of indemnifying the owner.

19. Shri Bhargava in his appeal submitted that there was no allegation in the claim petition that the driver of the vehicle, RRL 3804, was negligent or rashly drove the vehicle. Shri Bhargava also submitted that there was no evidence to this extent and whatever evidence was produced was not believed so far as the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver of vehicle No. RRL 3804 is concerned. In view of this, Shri Bhargava submitted that even one-third liability fastened on vehicle No. RRL 3804 deserves to be set aside.

20. I have considered the contention of Shri Bhargava. It is true that the allegations in the claim petition were not there, but I am not impressed on this point and, however, the owner of vehicle No. RRL 3804 was made party to the claim petition so far as the liability on the basis of the doctrine enunciated in the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Sushma Mitra v. M. P. State Road Transport Corporation [1974] ACJ 87; AIR 1974 MP 68, is concerned, it is not necessary that there may be any specific averment on that point in the claim petition. The claim proceedings in accident cases are not civil proceedings and cannot be allowed to be treated as civil proceedings. The strict principles of pleadings cannot be applied in such cases ; and the Motor Vehicles Act provisions for insurance and compensation are parts of social welfare legislation for giving benefits to the public at large. In some of the States like Tamil Nadu, even when the claimants do not file claim petitions, the Tribunals are required to grant damages and compensation.

21. In view of the above, I do not attach much importance to the averments in the claim petition.

22. Obviously, the two buses dashed against each other from the sides as they did not leave enough space in between. It was only on accountof this, Sneh Lata's hand was cut when both the buses collided from the sides. I am in agreement with the view expressed by their Lordships of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Sushma Mitra's case [1974] ACJ 87; AIR 1974 MP 68, in the matter of driving the buses on the road, both the drivers are expected to leave in between minimum space by which the passengers travelling, inside the bus, are not adversely affected by the impact of dashing against each other. In the present case, it has come in evidence that one of the buses on account of this accident which was due to the rash and negligent driving with a high speed, thereafter, struck the telephone pole, which means that it was not a case of close driving only but, it was a case where they physically came in contact with each other. In such circumstances, the negligence of the drivers including the driver of bus No. RRL 3804 has been rightly inferred by the Tribunal.

23. Shri Mehta tried to argue that the contributory negligence held to be two-thirds and one-third requires interference inasmuch as the liability of both the vehicles should be fifty fifty. I am not inclined to accept this contention of Shri Mehta also.

24. It has come in evidence that vehicle No. RRL 8548 was being driven with a very high speed so much so that even after the accident, the driver of the vehicle could not control it and it dashed and struck the telephone pole. If that is so, the finding of the Tribunal holding Surajmal's responsibility to be more than that of other driver, is just, proper and calls for no interference in this appeal.

25. The result of the above discussion is that both these appeals are hereby dismissed without any order as to costs. The impugned award of the Tribunal is confirmed.

26. It is, however, made clear that as per the information conveyed by Shri Vimal Chaudhary, one appeal is pending on behalf of the claimants for enhancement of the compensation amount. This judgment has, in no way, considered the quantum of the compensation amount awarded and, therefore, it would not in any manner come in the way of disposal of that appeal.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //