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Bhag Chand Panju Ram and anr. Vs. Smt. Snehlata and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberD.B. Civil Misc. Appeal Nos. 74 of 1967 and 7 of 1968
Judge
Reported in1974WLN36
AppellantBhag Chand Panju Ram and anr.
RespondentSmt. Snehlata and ors.
Cases ReferredIn Nance v. British Columbia Electric Railway Company Ltd.
Excerpt:
motor vehicles act, 1939 - section 110a--'rash' and 'negligent'--brakes, of bus not functioning properly--rickshaw knocked down, & r dies--held, act is rash & negligent.;the brakes of the bus no. rjr 915 were not functioning properly, and further that as it went down the slope towards the bus stand, it knocked with force against the rickshaw in which shri rajbahadur singh was traveling on the morning on may, 3, 1966, and this act on the part of sob hag singh, who was then driving the bus, was. certainly rash and negligent.;(b) motor vehicles act, 1939 - section 110a--compensation and damages--measure of.; where the head of the household is killed, as a result of an accident, the wife & child are dependent upon him, to the extent of his earnings and other income less a.....d.p. gupta, j.1. these two appeals arise out of a motor accident, which took place on may 3, 1966 shri rajbahadur singh reached kota junction on the fateful morning by train and took a cycle rickshaw from the railway station to go to bundi bus stand at kota in order to catch the bus for bundi. he had been selected at a competitive examination for the rajasthan judicial service, occupying the fifth position and after undergoing the necessary training at alwar, he was posted as munsiff-magistrate, bundi. it was his first assignment in the state service and he was to join his duties as a munsiff-magistrate on may 3, 1966, at bundi. but destiny willed otherwise and while the rickshaw in which shri rajbahadur singh was sitting, was proceeding from brij talkies crossing on the slope leading.....
Judgment:

D.P. Gupta, J.

1. These two appeals arise out of a motor accident, which took place on May 3, 1966 Shri Rajbahadur Singh reached Kota Junction on the fateful morning by train and took a cycle rickshaw from the railway station to go to Bundi bus stand at Kota in order to catch the bus for Bundi. He had been selected at a competitive examination for the Rajasthan Judicial Service, occupying the fifth position and after undergoing the necessary training at Alwar, he was posted as Munsiff-Magistrate, Bundi. It was his first assignment in the State service and he was to join his duties as a Munsiff-Magistrate on May 3, 1966, at Bundi. But destiny willed otherwise and while the rickshaw in which Shri Rajbahadur Singh was sitting, was proceeding from Brij Talkies crossing on the slope leading towards the Bundi bus stand, a passenger bus, bearing registration No. RJR 915 came from behind. The bus collided in the first instance with Jeep No. DLJ 1329, which was at that time parked towards the left side of the road and thereafter the bus dashed against the rickshaw, which overturned as a result of the jolt and Shri Rajbahadur Singh was thrown out on the road and was run over by the aforesaid bus No. RJR 915. Shri Rajbahadur Singh sustained multiple injuries as a result of the accident, his first three ribs, were broken, the ciavical bones were fractured and the flame of lite blew off even before he could be removed to the hospital.

2. Shri Rajbahadur Singh was a double M.A., L.L.B. and was 26 year of age. As mentioned above, he was appointed as a Munsif-Magistrate after being selected for the post in the Rajasthan Judicial Service He left behind him a younger widow of about 21 years of age and a daughter hardly 3 months old. His wife, who was at that time probably looking, forward to a life of prosperity and married happiness, was informed of his sad demise and of the fact that Shri Rajbahadur Singh could not even reach his, place of posting on account of the unfortunate accident, which over-took him at Kota. Thus all her plans and aspirations, were shattered.

3. The widow of Shri Rajbahadur Singh filed an application for compensation before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Kota, on behalf of herself and her minor daughter and prayed that a sum of Rs. 3,25,000/- be awarded by way of compensation. The appellants Messrs Bhagchand Panjuram and Sobhag Singh, who are retrospectively the owner and driver of bus No. RJR 915, filed a joint written statement, accepted the fact that Shri Raj Bahadur Singh died on May 3, 1966, but they denied any responsibility for the accident and his death. According to these defendant-appellants the bus No. RJR 915 was not being driven rashly or negligently. Their story, as mentioned in para 9 of their written statement, is that Sobhag Singh was driving the bus carefully, but the rickshaw in which Rajbahadur Singh was sitting, was going very fast on the slope ahead of their bus and on account of the jolting caused by the sudden application of brakes by the rickshaw-puller, Shri Rajbahadur Singh was thrown, out who struck against the bumper of the bus in question and then fell down on the road and thus got injured. According to their version, their bus did not strike against the rickshaw in which Shri Rajbahadur Singh was travelling nor any part of hid body was run over by the bus. They claimed that they were not liable to pay compensation and in any event the amount of compensation claimed was highly exaggerated.

4. The bus No. RJR 915 was insured with the Life Insurance Corporation of India, who filed a separate written statement, in which it substantially reiterated the stand taken up by. the owner and the driver of the bus and submitted in the alternative, that if at all the Corporation was found liable to pay damages, its liability could not extend to more than half of Rs. 20,000/-under the Motor Vehicles Act, the other half to be borne by the Indian Mercantile Insurance Co Ltd. with which the bus in question was also alleged to have been insured, in addition to being insured with the Corporation.

5. M/s Indian Mercantile Insurance Co, Ltd., submitted in its written statement that after the accident in question had taken place in the morning of May 3, 1966, the owner of the vehicle No: RJR 915 approached the Agent of the Company at Kota and without disclosing that such an accident had happened, requested him for the issuance of an insurance policy. The Agent of the defendant No. 3 issued a cover note on that very day, but inadvertently mentioned the date of issuance as May 2,1966 instead of May 3, 1966. It was further alleged by defendant No. 3 that the owner of the vehicle No. RJR 915, with the intention of saving himself from the liability of paying compensation & with the malafide intention to unlawfully saddle upon the Company the liability for the payment of compensation in respect of the said accident, got the cover note issued. The owner of the vehicle in question also failed to disclose to their Agent at Kota that the vehicle was already insured with the Life Insurance Corporation of India. It was alleged that the suppression of the fact of he accident which had already taken place and of the existence of insurance with the Life Insurance Corporation of India in respect of the bus in question for the same period, were fraudulent and malafide acts on the part of the owner of the bus and further that on coming to know of these facts, the Company not only refused to issue a policy of insurance in respect of the vehicle in question, but also cancelled the cover note, which had already been issued. It was also pleaded that the cover note was void from its very inception on account of fraudulent non disclosure of above mentioned material farts by the owner of the vehicle and as no certificate of insurance was issued & the coyer note was also cancelled, the contract of insurance did not come into existence so far as the Company was concerned.

6. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal Kota, after recording the evidence led by the parties, by its order dated September 8, 1967 awarded a sum of Rs. 1,20,000/- as compensation to the widow and the minor child of the deceased Shri Rajbahadur Singh including Rs. 10, 000/- for pain and agony, against the owner and the driver of bus No. RJR 916 as well as against the Life Insurance Corporation of India. The claim petition against Messers Indian (sic) Insurance Company Ltd. was dismissed The owner and the driver of the vehicle in question & the Life Insurance Corporation of India have preferred two separate appeals before us against the aforesaid decision given by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunanl, Kota. It shall be convenient to decide both these appeals by a common order as they arise out of the same decision of the Tribunal.

7. We have heard the leraned Counsel for the parties and have gone through the record of the case. On behalf of the owner and the driver of the bus No. RJR 915 it was argued that the bus was not being driven by Sobhag Singh either rashly or negligently but on the other hand the rickshaw in which Shri Rajbahadur Singh was sitting, was being driven rashly and negligently, as it was proceeding with great speed and it was on account of the sudden application of brakes by the rikshaw puller that the rikshaw received a jolt and overturned and Shri Rajbahadur Singh was thrown out resulting in his death. It was also argued that the damages in the sum of Rs. 10,000/- given for pain and agony could not have been legally awarded as Shri Rajbahadur Singh died immediately after the accident even before he could be removed to the hospital and further that the award of compensation by the Tribunal to the tune of Rs. 1,10,000/- by way of general damages, was grossly excessive.

8. On behalf of the Life Insurance Corporation of India two submissions were made, firstly, that the liability of the Insurance Company was limited to the sum of Rs, 20,000/- only in respect of persons other than passengers carried for hire or reward, in view of the provisions of Section 95 of the Motor Vehicles Act and secondly that the vehicle No. RJR 915 was also insured with the Indian Mercantile Insurance Co., Ltd., and as such even the amount of Rs. 20,000/- should be shared equally by the said Company along with the appellant, Life Insurance Corporation of India.

9. Let us examine the first instance as to whether Shri Rajbahadur Singh died as a result of the rash and negligent driving of bus No. RJR 915 by the appellant Sobhag Singh. It is the admitted case of the parties that Shri Rajbahadur Singh was going in a rikshaw over the slope leading from the Brij Talkies crossing towards the Bundi bus stand at Kota on the morning of May 3,1966, at about 10 am. when the accident took place and that Shri Raj Bahadur Singh received multiple injuries and died as a result thereof even before he could be taken to the hospital. What is in dispute is as to whether the said accident was the result of rash and negligent act on the part of the driver of bus No. RJR 915 The evidence in this respect has been considered by the Tribunal in detail and we have ourselves looked into the evidence on record. Kastoor Chand (PW 1), whose Jeep was parked at the moment on the left side of the road leading to the Bundi Bus stand, stated that he was standing on the road behind his Jeep at the time when the accident took place, as the driver of his Jeep had gone to a nearby restaurant for taking his meals. According to him, the bus in question which was full of passengers and was driven by Sobhag Singh appellant, came from behind without blowing any horn and in the first instance it knocked on the right side of his Jeep and then it dashed against the rikshaw, which was then going a little ahead of his Jeep and in which Shri Rajbahadur Singh was sitting. The rikshaw puller as well as the passenger (Shri Rajbahadur Singh) were thrown out on the road and the front left wheel of the bus ran over the ribs of the passenger. The rikshaw puller Bhanwar Lal (PW 7) has also the same story to tell. There is no reason to disbelieve the testimony of these two eye witnesses of the occurrence. Kastoor Chand (PW 1) is an independent person and his presence at the spot cannot be doubted, as his Jeep was parked at the moment near the place where the accident took place. It was argued by the leraned Counsel for the appellant that the statement of this witness should not be believed because there is some discrepancy between his statements before the Tribunal and in the criminal case relating to the accident. Whereas he stated before the Magistrate that the right side of the bus collided against the left ride of the rikshaw. In his statement before the Tribunal, this witness stated that it was the left front side of the bus which struck against the right side of the rikshaw We have read the statement of Kastoor Chand (PW 1) and have also looked into the photographs relating to the accident, which have been placed on record and have been marked Exs. 13 to 17 and have been proved by PW 5 Mohammed Alladin, S.H.O., P.S. Nayapura, Kota, and PW 6 Bashir Mohammed, the police photographer, who took the photographs. We have no doubt that the bus No. RJR 915 struck against the left side of the rikshaw, as rear left wheel of the rikshaw appears to have been smashed and the tyre of that wheel was thrown away as a result of the impact of the accident. The discrepancy between left and right in the statement of PW 1 Kastoor Chand appears to have been caused owing to not unusual confusion beetween fight and left and we are satisfied that it does not in any manner detract the veracity of his statement. Further PW 3 Surendra Sipgh, Mechanical Inspector, Transport Department stated that the bus No. RJR 915 was examined by him a day after the accident had taken place and he found that its brakes Were not functioning properly and there was no brake oil in the master cylinder. He also found that the front number plate of the bus had a dent and was bent. It is admitted position that the brakes of the bus were hydraulic and without the availability of oil in the master cyliner, the brakes could not work properly. It is also in evidence that telegram Ex.P/5 was sent by the partner of the firm, Messrs Bhagchand Panjuram who owned the bus, to the Life Insurance Corporation of India, which reads as under:

Accident made by RJR 915 at Kota on 3rd May 66 at 10.00 a.m. One person expired-Baghchand.

This telegram is a version of this accident given at an early stage of the case when self interest had not been able to function inventively. We have no reason to distrust this significant admission which stands unambiguously corroborated by oral evidence and photographs There is thus no doubt left in our mind that the brakes of the bus No. R.J.R. 915 were not functioning properly and further that as it went down the slope towards the bus stand, it knocked with force against the rikshaw in which Shri Rajbahadur Singh was travelling on the morning on May 3, 1966, and this act on the part of Sobhag Singh, who was then driving the bus, was certainly rash and negligent.

10. The next important question to be determined is as to whether the amount of compensation awarded by the Tribunal to the petitioner respondents is excessive? They claimed, as already stated above, a sum of Rs. 3,25,000/ by way of damages inclusive of Rs. 25 000/- as damages for pain and agony, The The tribunal awarded a sum of Rs. 120,000/ in all, inclusive of Rs. 10,000/-on account of pain and agony and remaining amount for loss of expectation of life of the deceased.

11. Before proceeding to consider as to what amount of compensation would be reasonable in the facts and circumstances of the present case, it would be proper first to examine the principles which should be applied in estimating the amount of damages to be awarded.

12. Winfiled in his treaties on 'The Law of Tort' (Eighth Edition) has stated the principles at page 679 thus:

The basic principle for the measure of damages in tort as well as in contract is that there should be restitutio in integrum. Where any injury is to be con pen sated by damages, in settling the sum of money which will put the party who has been injured, or who has suffered, in the same position as he would have been in if he had not sustained the wrong for which be is now getting his compensation or reparation. In a case of personal injury this criterion can and should be applied to the pecuniary elements of the plaintiff's loss such as his loss of earnings. Indeed compensation in the literal sense is no more possible than restitution, and what is given has been described as notional or theoretical compensation to take the place of that which is not possible, namely, actual compensation.

13. The learned author further observes:

The starting point is the amount of wages which the deceased was earning, the ascertainment of which to some extent may depend on on the regularity of his employment. Then there is an estimate of how much was required or expended for his own personal and living expenses. The balance will give a datum or basic figure which will generally be turned into a lump sum by making a number of years' purchase. That sum has to be taxed down by having regard to the uncertainties. The number of years' purchase is left fluid & will vary according to the deceased's expectation of working life as it was at his death, the probable duration of the dependency of the dependents and so on. There are in fact so many imponderables in each case that arithmetic, though a good servant, is a bad master and accordingly a round figure should be assessed.

14. Munkson in his book 'Damages for personal injuries and death' (Third Edition) page 35 stated as under:

In principle, the measure of damages for pecuniary loss is the exact amount of money which has been lost, or spent in consequence of the injury. Now it is easy enough to apply this rule in the case of earnings which have actually been incurred. But in the case of future financial loss, assessment is not so easy. in general, this financial loss is assessed in much the same way as prospective loss of earnings in the case of living plaintiff except of course that the basic figure, instead of being the net earnings of the plaintiff, is the not contribution to the support of the plaintiff which would have been derived from the future income of the deceased. In both cases, when the basic figure has been fixed, an as image has to be made of the probable length of time for which the earnings or contribution, would have continued; then a convenient multiple has to be determined--a number of years' purchase--which will reduce the total loss to its present value. The ordinary chances and uncertainties of life should also be taken in to account, but it does not necessarily follow that any deduction ought to be made for this reason. Where the injured man has been in good health and had excellent prospects it would be legitimate for the court to conclude that the risks were slight and might be disregarded. After all the court is not compelled to exercise its imagination for the benefit of the Person who has caused the loss.

15. Kemp & Kemp in their book on 'The Quantum of Damages' (Second Edition) Volume 2 at page 19 have described the general principles as:

The basic figure is the value of the dependency. It should usually be possible to assess the value of the dependency at the date of the deceaseds death with some accuracy. Usually the most important factor will be the age and expectation of working life of the deceased himself. He is the source of the dependency, which could not be in any event have continued beyond the span of his working life. But one must also consider the expectation of life of the dependents and in particular where a husband is killed, of his widow The future prospects of the deceased, if he had not been killed, will also effect the multiplier. If the deceased had good prospects of attaining a much greater wage or salary, or of achieving promotion to a much better position, the court will apply a higher multiplier. On the other hand the court must take account of the uncertainties of life particulary where the deceased was engaged in some especially hazardous employment The court will also make some discount on the ground that the dependents get a lump sum down and will be able to enjoy the interest on it. But in this connection, it is submitted, that regard should be had to the general depreciation in the purchasing power of the pound sterling over the last fifty years and more, a trend which unfortunately shows no sign of altering. Regard should also be had to the fact that the interest will be taxed. Where the deceased had good prospect of considerably increased earnings, the court must take into account that the value of the dependency would probably have increased as the deceased's earnings increased. The assessment of damages in this type of the dependency at the date of death, may represent a multiplier of twenty or more.

16. Prof. Harry Street in his book 'Principles of the Law of Damages' Page 59 discussing the law in England on the subject stated as under:

The law protects the human personality in its psychic phases as well as in its economic ones. A man has a legal interest entitling him to complain if the integrity of his life is impaired by tortuous acts, not only in regard to pain, suffering and disability, but in regard to the continuance of 1ife for its normal expectancy. A man has a legal right that his life shall not be shortened by the tortious act of another. In case of death, damages are recoverable or loss of pecuniary benefit. The right of each dependent is based on the reasonable expectation of pecuniary advantage from the continuance of the life of the deceased. Obviously it is important to determine what contribution the deceased has made to the dependents from his earnings, and evidence of his household financial arrangements should be adduced. Equally obviously the discounted capital value of the total future contributions of the deceased based upon his work-life expectancy is relevant. Judges frequently speak of the loss of dependency or loss of contribution, as if this is all to which the dependents are entitled The explanation is two fold: first, the judicial urge for simple calculation and secondly, the cynical attitude of the judges to working class life.

17. Mayne & Mc Gregor on Damages summarised the law on the subject as under:

The court has restricted recovery to damages for the loss of the pecuniary benefit arising from the relationship which would be derived from the continuance of the life. In short, the measure recoverable by a dependent is what is often called the value of the dependency. The basic rule, and ever since accepted and acted upon, is that the damages are to be calculated 'in reference to a reasonable expectation of pecuniary benefit, as of right or otherwise, from the continuance of the life.' This entails two consequences of importance: first, there is no need for the dependent to show that the deceased was under a legal liability to support him; second, there is no need to show that the dependent was receiving pecuniary benefit at the time of the death as purely prospective loss being sufficient.

The courts have evolved a particular method for calculating the value of the dependency, or the amount of pecuniary benefit that the dependent could reasonably expect to have received. The basis is the amount of pecuniary benefit that the deceased would have conferred upon the dependent in the future. This may be calculated by taking the annual figure of the dependency, and multiplying it by the number of years that the dependency might reasonably be expected to last. This latter figure is generally referred to as the multiplier The resulting amount must then be scaled down by reason of two considerations: first that a lump sum is being given instead of the various sums over the years, and second that contingencies might have arisen to cut off the benefit prematurely. The method adopted by the courts to scale down is to take the figure intact of present annual dependency and reduce only the multiplier. The full amount of future contributions cannot be awarded, as this would put them in the dependent's hands long before he would otherwise have got them and enable him to enjoy the interest in the intervening period. What must be calculated is the present value of the future contributions. The basic annual figure will be the amount of the wages the deceased contributed to the house keeping less the amount out of such contribution that has gone towards his own maintenance. A multiplier is then applied to this value of the family dependency at the date of the death, this multiplier will generally represent the number of working years that would have remained to the deceased less a deduction in this number to represent the two factors already discussed. It is impossible to state with any precision what this multiplier should be because of the varying circumstances of each case: all that can be said is that the number of years' purchase is an average case where the parties are not too old or ailing tends to be in the region of thirteen to eighteen. Where, however, the deceased had good prospects of increased earnings in the future by promotion or otherwise, this is accounted for by continuing to take the annual value of the family dependency at the time of death but applying a rather higher multiplier, generally in the region of twenty to twenty-two.

18. In the 'Restatement of the Law of Torts' (as adopted and promulgated by the American Law Institute) Vol. IV, paras 924 925, the law on the subject has been summarised as under:

The extent of future harm to the earning capacity of the injured person is measured by the difference viewed as at the time of trial between the value of the plaintiff's services as they will be in view of the harm and as they would have been had there been no harm. This difference is the resultant derived from reducing to present value the anticipated losses of earnings during the period of the prospective life the plaintiff would have had but for the defendant's act:In the majority of States, the English model has been followed and damages are determined by the present worth of the contributions and aid which the deceased probably would have given to the survivors had he lived. Under this a widow and child of the deceased can recover the value at the time of trial of the amounts which the deceased probably would have earned but for this death resulting from the defendant's act, less the amount which he would have used for his own purposes. In this amount is added an amount to compensate them for the loss of the advice, assistance, training and guidance which they probably would have received, so far as those things would have had pecuniary value. The total represents the worth of the deceased's life in a pecuniary way to his family. In some of these States, the damages are fixed as the present value of the probable earnings of the deceased less his probable personal expenses

19. Now let us consider some of the decided cases on the subject. The judgment delivered by Pollock C.B. in Franklin v. South East Railway (1858) 157 ER 3 may from the convenient starting point for the consideration of the principles regarding award of compensation or damages for loss of future earnings, as it has been cited in several subsequent judgments both in England as well as in our country. In that case the learned Chief Baron adopted the test that:

Damages must be calculated in reference to a reasonable expectation of penuniary benefit as of right or otherwise from the continuance of the life.

20. In Philips v. The South Western Railway Company (1878) 4 QBD 406, Dr. Philips, a doctor of medicine, who had a large income, received serious injuries in an accident incapacitating him for work. James, L.J., delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal, approved the following observations of Field, J:

The damages to which a man is entitled are the consequences of wrongful act by which he suffers. He has done wrong; he has suffered a wrong at the hands of the defendants and you must take care to give him full fair compensation for that which he has suffered. Dr. Philips has been and is prevented from earning such a sum as you think he would have been likely to earn if this accident had not happened. That has been taken from him and I am at all loss to see how the fact that he enjoys a considerable income from other sources can alter the amount which you ought to give him.

And added:

That comes to this, you are to consider what his income would probably have been, how long that income would probably have lasted, and you are to take into consideration the other contingencies to which a party is liable.

Cockburn, C.J., observed in that case:

As a general rule, where injury is caused to one person by the wrongful or negligent act of another, the compensation should be commensurate to the injury sustained.

21. In Flint v. Lovell (1934) All. ER 200 the Court of Appeal held that where the plaintiff's expectation of life has been curtailed owing to the injuries caused by the accident, he is necessarily deprived of something of value and he may recover damages on account of loss suffered due to the negligence of another:

22. Green, L.J., observed in that case:

There is no doubt that he has lost the prospect of an enjoyable, vigorous, and happy old age which I am satisfied on the medical testimony might have gone on for a number of years if this unhappy accident had not occurred.

23. Earl of Halsbury, L.C., delivering his speech in the House of Lords, in the Owners of the Steamship 'Mediana' v. The Owners, Master and Crew of the Lightship 'Comet' (1900) Appeal Cases 113 observed as under:

Of course the whole region of inquiry into damages is one of extreme difficulty. You very often cannot even lay down any principle upon which you can give damages. Take the most familiar and ordinary case: how is anybody to measure pain and suffering in moneys count? Nobody can suggest that you can by any arithmetical calculation establish what is the exact amount of money which would represent such a a person would be entitled to no damages for such things. What manly thing as the pain and suffering which a person has undergone by reason of an accident. In truth, I think it would be very arguable to say that mind cares about pain and suffering that is past? But nevertheless the law recognises that as a topic upon which damages may be given.

24. In Taff Vale Railway Company v. Jenkins 1931 Appeal Cases 1 Viscount Haldane, L.C., propounded the law as under:

The basis is not what has been called solatium, that is to say, damages given for injured feelings or on the ground of sentiment, but damages based on compensation for a pecuniary loss. But than loss may be prospective, and it is quite clear that prospective loss may be taken into account.

25. Lord Atkinson concurred and observed:

I think it has been wall established by authority that all that is necessary that a reasonable expectation of pecuniary benefit should be entertained by the person who sues. It is quite true that the existence of this expectation is an inference of fact--but I wish to express my emphatic dissent from the proposition that it is necessary that two of the facts without which the inference cannot be drawn are, first, that the deceased earned money in the past, and, second, that he or she contributed to the support of the plaintiff. These are, no doubt, pregnant pieces of evidence, but they are only pieces of evidence and the necessary inference can I think be drawn from circumstances other than and different from them.

26. In Rose v. Ford (1937) 3 All. E.R. Lord Wright in his speech in the House of Lords expressed thus:

I think he has a legal interest entitling him to complain if the integrity of his life is impaired by tortuous acts, not only in regard to pain, suffering, and disability, but also in regard to the continuance of life for its normal expectancy. A man has a legal right that his life should not be shortened by the tortuous act of another. His normal expectancy of life is a thing of temporal value, so that its impairment is something for which damages should be given.

In that case Lord Russell of Killowen made the following significant observation:

I am of opinion that, if a person's expectation of life is curtailed, he is necessarily deprived of something of value, and that, if that loss to him is occasioned by the negligence of another, that other is liable to him in damages for the loss.

It was also observed that the death of the injured person obviates to some extent the necessity of medical evidence that the accident has shortened the person's life.

27. In Benham v. Gambling (1914) Appeal Cases 157 Viscount Simon, L.C., giving the unanimous verdict on behalf of the House of Lords, spoke thus:

The question thus resolves itself into that of fixing a reasonable figure to be paid by way of damages for the loss of a measure of prospective happiness. In assessing damages for this purpose, the test is not subjective and the right sum to award depends on an objective estimate of what kind of future on earth the victim might have enjoyed, whether he had justly estimated that future or not. The damages is in respect of loss of life, not of loss of future pecuniary prospects.

28. In Bishop v. Cunard White Star Company, Limited 1950 Law Reports (Probate Division) 240. Hodson, J. observed:

The number of years' purchase is left fluid, but I do not think that that number is to he materially reduced by consideration of the hazardous nature of the occupation of the deceased men.

29. In Nance v. British Columbia Electric Railway Company 1915 Appeal Cases 601 discount Simon delivering the judgment of the Privy Council summed up the law on the subject as under:

If the deceased had not been killed, but had eked out the full span of life to which in the absence of the accident he could reasonably have looked forward what sums during that period would he probably have applied out of his income to the maintenance of his wife & family. It is man's expectation of life if he had not been killed when he was; and next what, sums during these years he would probably have applied to the support of his wife. In fixing x, regard must be had not only to his age and bodily health, but to the possibility of a premature determination of his life by a later accident. In estimating future provision for his wife, the amounts he usually applied in this way before his death are obviously relevant, and often the best evidence available; though not conclusive, since if he had survived, his means might have expanded or shrunk, and his liberality might have grown or wilted. Supposing by this method, an estimated annual sum of y is arrived at as the sum which would have been applied for the benefit of the plaintiff for x more years, the sum to be awarded is not simply multiplied by x, because that sum is a sum spread over a period of years and must be discounted so as to arrive at its equivalent in the form of a lump sum payable at his death as damages. Then a deduction must further be made for the benefit seeming to the widow from the acceleration of her interest in his estate on his death.

30. Then again the general principles governing the assessment of damages were enunciated by Lord Wright in his speech in the House of Lords in Davies v. Powell 1952 Appeal Cases 601:

The damages are to be based on the reasonable expectation of pecuniary benefit or benefit reducible to money value. The actual pecuniary loss of each individual entitled to sue can only be ascertained by balancing, on the one hand, the loss to him of the future pecuniary benefit, and, on the other, any pecuniary advantage which from whatever source comes to him by reason of death. The estimating of the pecuniary loss of the defendant may depend on data which cannot be ascertained with certainty and must be matter of estimate or even partly of conjecture. There is no question here of what may be called sentimental damage, bereavement or pain or suffering. It is a hard matter of pounds, shillings and pence, subject to the element of reasonable future probabilities. The starting point is the amount of wages which the deceased was earning, the ascertainment of which to some extent may depend on the regularity of his employment. Then there is an estimate of how much was required or expended for his own personal and living expenses. The balance will give a datum Or basic figure which will generally be turned into a lump sum by taking a certain number of years' purchase. That sum, however, has to be taxed down by having due regard to uncertainties, for instance, that the widow might have again married and thus ceased to be dependent, and other like matters of speculation and doubt.

31. In Rushton v. National Coal Board (1953) 1 All. E.R. 314. Singleton, L.J., observed:

Every member of this court is anxious to do all he can to ensure that the damages are adequate for the injury suffered, so far as they can be compensation for an injury, and to help the parties and others to arrive at a fair and just figure in all the circumstances. It is impossible to standardise damages, but it is the duty of this court to see that, so far as possible, the same general principles are followed and the same approach is ensured for all defendants in a case of this kind. More than that the court cannot do.

He also quoted with the approval the following observations of Birkett, L.J., in Bird v. Cocking and Sons, Ltd. (1952) 2 TLR 1263:

The assessment of damages in cases of personal injuries is, perhaps, one of the most difficult tasks which a judge has to perform. The task is so difficult because the elements which must be considered in forming the assessment in any given case vary so infinitely from other cases that there can be no fixed and unalterable standard for assessing the amounts for those particular elements. The courts have been making these assessments over many years, and I think that they do form some guide to the kind of figure which is appropriate to the facts of any particular case, and when, therefore, a particular matter comes for review one of the questions is, how does this accord with the general run of assessments made over the years in comparable case?

In Rushton's case (1953) 1 All. E.R. 314. Birkett, L.J. also made the following observations:

The courts have been compelled by the logic of circumstances to decree that their only possible course in cases of personal injury is to award damages in money, and, that being so, it is useful to look at comparable cases to see what other minds have done and so gather the general consensus of opinion as to the amount which an injured person in the present state of society ought to be awarded.

32. In Pope v. D. Murphy and Son Ltd. (1961) 1 QB 222 it was observed:

In my view the proper approach to this question of loss of earning capacity is to compensate the plaintiff for what he has in fact lost the prospect of earning from his business over the period of time that he might otherwise, apart from the accident, have reasonably expected to earn. I think that, apart from the accident and again, of course, subject to the ordinary chances of life, he is entitled to claim damages over his normal expectation of life. If I were to hold any thing else, I feel strongly that I should be giving the to treason, the benefit of his own wrong, and I decline to do.

33. In H. West v. Shephard (1963) 2 All E.R. 625. Lord Morris delivering his speech in the House of Lords, stated:

My lords, the damages which are to be awarded for a tort are those which 'so far as money can compensate', will give the injured party reparation for the wrongful act and for all the natural and direct consequences of the wrongful act. The words 'so far as money compensate' point to the impossibility of equating money with human suffering or personal deprivations. A money award can be calculated so as to make good a financial loss. Money may be awarded so that something tangible may be procured to replace something else of like nature which has been destroyed or lost. But money cannot renew a physical frame that has been battered and shattered. All that judges and courts can do is to award sums which must be regarded as giving reasonable compensation. In the process there must be the endeavour to secure some uniformity in the general method of approach. By common assent awards must be reasonable and must be assessed with moderator. Further more, it is eminently desirable that so far as possible comparable injuries should be compensated by comparable awards.

34. In Singh v. Toong Fong Omnibus Co., Ltd. (1964) 3 All E.R. 925, Lord Morris, delivering the judgment of the Privy Council, observed:

It is but to recognise, that, since in a court of law compensation for physical injury can only be assessed and fixed in monetary terms, the some measure of uniformity by paying heed to any current trend of considered opinion. As far as possible it is desirable that two litigants whose claims correspond should receive similar treatment just as it is desirable that they should both receive fair treatment. Those whom they sue are no less entitled.

35. In Fletcher v. Autocar & Transporters, Ltd. (1968) 1 All E.R. 726. Lord Denning, M.R. observed:

In the first place, I think that he has attempted to give a perfect compensation in money, whereas the law says that he should not make that attempt. It is an impossible task. He should give a fair compensation. In order to give him fair compensation, I should have thought that he should be given a sum which would ensure that he would not, within reason, want for anything that money could buy; and that his wife should be able to live for the rest of her life in the comfort that he would have provided for her; and that any savings that he would have made if uninjured would, be available for his family.

36. In the same case Salmon, L. J., observed:

To my mind the damages awarded should be such that the ordinary sensible man would not instinctively regard them as either mean or extravagant, but would consider them to be sensible and fair in all the circumstances. With the fall in value of money, present day awards of damages for really serious injuries tend, in my opinion, to be too low. One has to regard as a whole the plaintiff's general physical and mental state resulting from the accident and give him fair compensation for that.

37. In Ward v. James (1965) 1 All E.R. 563. Lord Denning made the following signific ant observations:

These recent cases show the desirability of three things : First, accessibility In cases of grave injury, where the body is wrecked or the brain destroyed, it is very difficult to assess a fair compensation in money, so difficult that the award must basically be a conventional figure, derived from experience or from awards in comparable cases. Secondly, uniformity. There should be some measure of uniformity in awards so that similar decisions are given in similar cases; otherwise there will be great dissatisfaction in the community and much criticism of the administration of justice. Thirdly, predictability. Parties would be able to predict with some measure of accuracy the sum which is likely to be awarded in a particular case, for by this means cases can be settled peaceably and not brought to court, a thing very much to the public good.

38. The same principles which have been enunciated by the Courts in England for award of compensation, have been adopted by the Supreme Court in this country. Gobald Motor Service Ltd. and Anr. v. V.R.M.K. Veluswami and Ors. : [1962]1SCR929 . Subba Rao, J., as he then was, cited with approval, the observations of Lord Wright in Davies v. Powell (1962) Appeal Cases 601 and Viscount Simon in Nance v. British Columbia Electric Railway Company Ltd. (1951) Appeal Cases 601 and deduced the following principles:

At first the deceased man's expectation of life has to be estimated having regard to his premature determination of his life by later accidents; secondly, the amount required for the future provision of his wife shall be estimated having regard to the amounts he used to spend on-her curing his lifetime, and other circumstances thirdly, the estimated annual sum is multiplied by the number of years of the man's estimated span of life, end the said amount must be discounted so as to arrive at the equivalent in the form of a lump sum payable on his death; fourthly, further deductions must be made for the benefit accruing to the widow from the acceleration of her interest in his estate and, fifthly, further accounts have to be deduced for the possibility of the wife dying earlier if the has band had lived the full span of life; and it should also be taken into account that there is the possibility of the widow remarrying much to the improvement of her financial position. It would be seen from the said mode of estimation that many imponderables enter into the calculation. Therefore, the actual extent of the pecuniary loss to the respondents may depend upon data which cannot be ascertained accurately, but must necessarily be an estimate, or even partly a conjecture Shortly stated, the general principle is that the pecuniary loss can be ascertained only by balancing on the one hand the loss to the claimants of the future pecuniary benefit and on the other any pecuniary advantage which from whatever source comes to them by reason of the death, that is, the balance of loss and gain to a dependent by the death must be ascertained.

39. In Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Subhagwanti : [1966]3SCR649 . Ramaswami, J., cited with the approval the passages extracted above by us from the decisions of Lord Wright in Davies v. British Columbia Electric Railway Co. Ltd. 1951 Appeal Cases 601. In that case the Supreme Court held that correct principles had been applied in the estimation of damages on the basis that Ram Prakash deceased who was 30 years old at the time of the accident must have spent Rs. 150/- per month on the subsistence and education of the children and the income was capitalised for a period of 15 years and thus the amount of Rs. 27,000/- as compensation was arrived at.

40. Again in C.K. Subramonia Iyer and Ors. v. T. Kunhikuttan Nair and Ors. : [1970]2SCR688 the Supreme Court, while relying upon the observations of the House of Lords in Davies v. Powell 1952 Appeal Cases 601 and the Privy Council in Taff Railway Company v. Jenkins 1931 Appeal Cases 1, observed:

In ascertaining pecuniary loss caused to the relations, it must be borne in mind that these damages are not to be given as solarium but are to be given with reference to a pecuniary loss.

Their Lordships also quoted with approval the following observations of Pollock, C.B., in Franklin v. South East Railway Co. (1858) 157 ER 3.:

We do not say that it was necessary that actual benefit should have been derived, a reasonable expectation might well exist, though from the father, not being in need, the son had never done anything for him. On the other hand there has been a loss of sensible and appreciable pecuniary benefit, which might have been reasonably expected from the continuance of the life.

The Supreme Court summed up the law on the point in C.K.S. Iyer's case : [1970]2SCR688 as under:

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 case, 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.

41. In Sheikhupura Transport Co. Ltd. v. Northern India Transporters Insurance Co., Ltd. and Anr. etc. : AIR1971SC1624 it was observed:

The pecuniary loss to the aggrieved party would depend upon data which cannot be ascertained accurately but must necessarily be an estimate or even partly a conjecture.

42. As regards the powers of the appellate court while dealing with an award for compensation on the question of the amount of damages, Green, L.J., in Flint v. Lovell 1934 All. E.R. 200 stated that:

It will be necessary that this court should be convinced either that the judge acted on some wrong principle of law, or that the amount awarded was so extremely high or to very small as to make it, in the judgment of this court, an entirely erroneous estimate of the damages to which the plaintiff is entitled.

43. On this subject Lord Wright in Davies v. Powell 1962 Appeal Cases 601 spoke thus:

In effect the court, before it interferes with an award of damages, should be satisfied that the judge has acted on a wrong principle of law or has misapprehended the facts, or has for these or other reasons made a wholly erroneous estimate of the damage suffered. It is not enough that there is a difference of opinion or preference. The scale must go down heavily against the figure attacked if the appellate court is to interfere, whether on the ground of excess or insufficiency.

44. In Singh v. Toong Fong Omnibus Co, Ltd. (1964) 3 All E.R. 925. Lord Morris laid down that the appellate court should interfere only if:

It is shown that the award in the present case was so much out of line with a discernible trend or pattern of awards in seasonably comparable cases that it must be regarded as having been a wholly erroneous estimate.

44. In Nance v. British Columbia Electric Railway Company Ltd. 1951 Appeal Cases 601. Viscount Simon, delivering the judgment of Judicial Committee of the Privy Council laid down the Principles, which should be observed by the appellate court in deciding whether it is justified in disturbing the finding of the court of first instance as to the quantum of damages:

The appellate court is not justified in substituting a figure of its own for that award below simply because it would have awarded a different figure if it had tried the case at first instance. Even if the Tribunal of first instance was a Judge sitting alone, then before the appellate court can properly intervene, it must be satisfied either that the judge, in assessing the damages, applied a wrong principle or law (as by taking into account some irrelevant factor or leaving out of account some relevant one) or, short of this, that the amount awarded is either so inordinately low or so inordinately high that it must be a wholly erroneous estimate of the damages.

46. The Supreme Court in C.K.S. Iyer's case : [1970]2SCR688 observed:

In the matter of ascertainment of damages, the appellate court should be slow in disturbing the findings reached by the Courts below if they have taken all the relevant facts into consideration.

47. We may row consider the facts and circumstances of the present case for determining the amount of compensation to be awarded in the light of the principles mentioned above. Shri Rajbahadur Singh was a double M.A. and L.L.B.; he was selected in the competitive examination for appointment to the Rajasthan Judicial Service and had secured the 5th position Thereafter he underwent 9 months' training at Alwar and by the order Ex.4 issued by the High Court he was posted as Additional Munsif Magistrate No. 3 Bundi with effect from May 3, 1966. It is also not disputed that the grade of the post of the Munsif-Magistrate at the relevant time was Rs, 250,25,750, but soon thereafter it was revised to Rs. 285,25,510-EB 25-650-10,800. He was further entitled to clearness allowance Rs. 50/- per month. At the time of his death Shri Rajbahadur Singh was drawing a sum of Rs. 325/- per month as his salary and had bright futureprospects before, him He was at that time a young man, 26 years of age, enjoying sound health. There is no doubt that the string of life of a promising and brilliant young man was thus cut short at the very inception of his career. In the course of time he was likely to be promoted as Civil Judge and thereafter as District Judge. He had definitely the prospects of a successful and well paid employment with ample chances of promotion and increased emoluments, the benefit of which would have been certainly available to his wife and child but his dependents were deprived of the same on account of his untimely death. Moreover here is a case of total dependence of the widow and the young child upon the support of the deceased, who was the sole bread winner of the family. In such circumstances, where the head of the household is killed, as a result of an accident, the wife and child are dependent upon him to the extent of his earnings and other income less a deduction of money spent on the maintenance of the husband and his other per oral needs. The net contribution of the deceased to the household is prima facie the 'datum figure' in the words of Lord Wright. The likelihood of increased earnings with definite grads of pay and a will defined ladder of promotion, must be taken into account and then the 'datum figure' must be increased accordingly. The learned Tribunal after taking into consideration the emoluments of Shri Rajbahadur Singh at the time of his death and the reasonable prospects of his increased earnings and promotion, considered that he was reasonably expected to spend, on an average a sum of Rs. 350/- per month on the subsistence of his wife and child and on the education of the latter. We have no reason to differ from the finding arrived at by the Tribunal in this respect. As the deceased had good prospects of increased earnings in the future, by promotion and otherwise, in our opinion, 20 would be a proper multiplier of the annual income to apply in the circumstances of the present case. In this view of the matter, the proper measure of damages to be awarded to the respondent No. 1 and 2 should be obtained by capitalising the amount of Rs. 350/- per month multiplied by 20 i.e. a sum of Rs. 84, 000/. The same result would be arrived at by employing the other method utilised for the purpose of assessment of damages. Shri Raj Bahadur Singh was drawing a sum of Rs. 325 per month at the time of his death out of which he might have spent a sum of Rs. 125/- on himself and the remaining amount of Rs. 200/-might have been spent by him on the maintenance of his wife and child. Thus, the annual value of the dependency at the time of his death must be considered to be Rs. 2,400/-. Then, taking into consideration his good health and age at the time of his death, it can be fairly estimated that he could be expected to have lived for 35 years more and multiplying the figure of Rs. 2 400/- with 35, the damages payable to his dependents should be assesed at Rs. 84,000/.This figure need not be discounted in the present case on account of lump sum payment, due to the fact that he had excellent prospects of promotion and considerably increased future earnings and further the general depreciation in the purchasing power of the rupee must also be taken into consideration The Tribunal multiplied the 'datum figure' of Rs. 350/. per month by 34 and reduced the figure of Rs. 1.42 800/. so arrived at by it to Rs. 110,000/-. In our opinion, the manner in which the Tribunal arrived at the figure of Rs. 1,10,000 as damages is not based on pound principles of law and further the same is inordinately high and must be considered to be an erroneous estimate of damages to which the respondents are entitled. The Tribunal also awarded a sum of Rs. 10, 000/- on account of pain and agony. But, as stated above, Shri Raj Bahadur Singh died on the spot immediately after the accident took place and the award of a nominal sum of Rs. 1000/- on this score would meet the ends of justice. As mentioned above the respondents are entitled to a sum of Rs, 84,000/- as compensation for loss of pecuniary benefit from the deceased, besides the sum of Rs. 1000/- in respect of pain and agony.

48. We have already held that Shri Sobhag Singh appellant who was driving the vehicle No. R.J.R. 915 at the time of the accident did so in a rash and negligent manner and as such he is liable for payment of damages to the respondents Nos. 1 and 2.

49. The next question that arises is about the liability of the owner of the bus, M/s Bhagchand Panjuram It would be sufficient to say in this respect that Sobhag Singh was driving the vehicle at the relevant time in the course of his employment and on behalf of his master and as such the owner of the vehicle was also liable for damages caused on account of the negligence of the driver in the course of his employment. Both the appellants M/S Bhagchand Panjuram and Sobhag Singh are, therefore, liable for payment of damages to the respondents.

50. We would now proceed to consider the other appeal filed by the Life Insurance Corporation of India The first submission made on behalf of the Corporation, namely, that in view of Section 95(2)(6) of the Motor Vehicles Act the liability of the insurer is limited to the extent of Rs. 20,000/- is well founded. Section 95(2)(b) of the Motor Vehicles Act, as it stood at the relevant time, was as under:

95(2). Subject to the proviso to Sub-section (1) a policy of insurance shall cover any liability incurred in respect of any one accident up to the following limits, namely:

(a) x x x x(b) Where the vehicle is a vehicle in which passengers are carried for hire or reward or by reason of or in pursuance of a contract of employment:(i) in respect of persons other than passengers carried for hire or reward, a limit of twenty thousand rupees in all;

Thus the liability of the insurer should have been limited to the extent of Rs. 20,000/- only and this position of law was not disputed by the respondents either before the Tribunal or before us But the second submission made on behalf of the Corporation, namely, that the vehicle No. R.J.R. 915 was also insured with the Indian Mercantile Insurance Co. Ltd; and as such the amount of Rs. 20,000/- should be shared equally by the said Company along with the Corporation, does not appear to be correct. From the evidence of Harbans Singh D.W 4 and Devendra Kumar D W 5 and the documents Ex.D.2 and Ex,D.3 on record, it is apparent that the vehicle No. R.J.R. 915 was already with Life Insurance Corporation of India for the same period and further that the cover note was obtained by the owner of the vehicle from the Inspector of the Indian Mercantile Insurance Company Ltd. by misrepresentation after the accident in question had taken place. Bhagchand, a partner of the firm M/s Bhagchand Panjuram admitted in his letter Ex. D 3 that although the cover note in respect of the alleged insurance policy with the Indian Mercantile Insurance Company. Ltd. was issued on 3rd May, 1956 but the period of insurance was inadvertently mentioned therein as commencing from 2nd May, 1986 and further the fact that the vehicle in question was already insured with the Life Insurance Corporation, was not disclosed to the Inspector of the aforesaid Company and the owner of the vehicle as well as the Insurance Company treated the cover note as cancelled from its very inception. In view of the evidence on record we agree with the learned Tribunal that the insurance of the vehicle in question with the Indian Mercantile Insurance Co; Ltd; appears to have been taken after the accident had actually taken place and thus the Company would not be made liable in respect of damages awarded on account of the accident in question. Further we are inclined to bold that the provisions of Section 95(2)(b)(i) of the Motor Vehicles Act have the effect of limiting the liability of the insurer in respect of a policy of insurance to Rs. 20,010/- and there is no basis for the submission of the leraned Counsel for the Corporation that the aforesaid limited liability should be shared by by the Corporation along with the Indian Mercantile Insurance Co. Ltd. The vehicle in question was insured with the Life Insurance Corporation of India under a policy of insurance and the liability of the Corporation itself was limited to the sum of Rs. 20,000/- an account of the aforesaid provisions regarding any one accident.

51. The result is that both the appeals are partly allowed and the award passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal Kota in modified to a sum of Rs. 85 000/- as against the appellants Messrs Bhagchand Panjuram and Sohhag Singh, while the said awards against the appellant M/S Life Insurance Corporation of India is modified and limited to a sum of Rs. 20,000/ The parties shall get proportionate costs in appeal No. 74 of 1967 while in appeal No. 7 of 1968 the parties are left to bear their own costs.


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