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Tahal Singh and anr. Vs. Shammi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1985)ACC102
AppellantTahal Singh and anr.
RespondentShammi and ors.
Excerpt:
- - 9, new india assurance company, bombay as well......at sri ganganagar, he was hit by bus no. rjk 8027, which was being driven by respondent no. 8, teja singh negligently and at an excessive speed. according to the case of the claimants the bus first struck against a cyclist and thereafter hari ram, who was going on foot on the road, was run over and then the bus struck against a small culvert as a result of which the culvert was broken. hari, ram received grevious injuries as a result of the aforesaid accident and died on the spot. the vehicle did not come to an halt even after striking hari ram, but it continued to proceed at a considerable speed and had to be over taken and stopped by police officials. the claimant who, as earlier stated, are the widow and sons and daughters of deceased hari ram, filed a claim for a sum of rs......
Judgment:

Dwarka Prasad, J.

1. This appeal has been filed against the award passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bikaner dated May 1, 1979, awarding a sum of Rs. 30,000/- by way of compensation to the claimants, respondent Nos. 1 to 7 against the appellant Nos. 1 and 2 and respondent No. 8 but dismissing the claim against the insurance company, respondent No. 9.

2. The case of the claimants, who are respondent Nos. 1 to 7 before this Court, is that Hari Ram, was the husband of respondent No. 1 and father of respondent Nos. 2 to 7, and while he was going on foot on November 16, 1972 near the gate of the Sadul Textiles Mills at Sri Ganganagar, he was hit by bus No. RJK 8027, which was being driven by respondent No. 8, Teja Singh negligently and at an excessive speed. According to the case of the claimants the bus first struck against a cyclist and thereafter Hari Ram, who was going on foot on the road, was run over and then the bus struck against a small culvert as a result of which the culvert was broken. Hari, Ram received grevious injuries as a result of the aforesaid accident and died on the spot. The vehicle did not come to an halt even after striking Hari Ram, but it continued to proceed at a considerable speed and had to be over taken and stopped by police officials. The claimant who, as earlier stated, are the widow and sons and daughters of deceased Hari Ram, filed a claim for a sum of Rs. 1,75,800/- before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bikaner (hereinafter called 'the Tribunal'). The Tribunal vide its award dated May 1, 1979 came to the conclusion that the bus was driven by Teja Singh, driver at an excessive speed, rashly and negligently and that Hari Ram, who was a pedestrian, was injured on account of the rash and negligent driving of the said driver Teja Singh. The Tribunal also determined the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants as Rs. 30,000/-, applying the multiplier of 15 to the average annual income of deceased Hari Ram which was assessed at Rs. 2,000/- and deducting 1/5 from the aforesaid amount on account of the fact that the claimants were getting payment of the amount of compensation in lump sum. The Tribunal also awarded to the claimants a sum of Rs. 6,000/-for loss of companionship and mental pain and suffering as Hari Ram was the only bread earner of the family and he died as a result of the aforesaid accident and his widow and children, ranging from the age of 3-1/2 to 11 years were left without anybody to fall back upon. However, the Tribunal held that the insurance company was not liable for payment of the amount of compensation because it was not proved that Teja Singh, driver, had a valid driving licence at the time when the accident took place.

3. It can hardly be disputed in this appeal that the accident had taken place on account of the rash and negligent driving by Teja Singh, driver of bus No. RJK 8027, while crossing through a crowded locality in front of the gate of Sadul Textiles Mills at Sri Ganganagar, as is apparent from the facts of the case. The very fact that the bus first struck against a cyclist and then ran over Hari Ram and further collided against a culvert on one side of the road, yet it still did not stop and went ahead for a considerable distance is sufficient to prove that Teja Singh was driving the bus at the relevant time at a far excessive speed as also that he was driving the said vehicle negligently. Therefore, there can be no doubt, in the circumstances of the case, that Hari Ram died as a result of the accident which took place when the bus in question ran over him on account of the rash and negligent driving on the part of the driver Teja Singh.

4. On the question of quantum of compensation awarded to the claimants also there cannot be no two opinions, as a very reasonable sum of Rs. 30,000/- has been awarded as compensation to all the claimants, which include the widow and six minor children of Hari Ram deceased, the eldest being a boy of 11 years and the youngest being a boy of 3-1/2 years and there being 3 minor daughters of the ages of 10, 8 and 6 years. The Tribunal has accepted the annual income of Hari Ram as Rs. 2,000/-, which is rather on the lower side and there is no reason for this Court to vary the quantum of compensation awarded by the Tribunal.

5. The only question, which was seriously argued in this appeal was that the insurance company could not have been absolved of its liability in the matter. The driving licence of the driver Teja Singh respondent No. 8 which was effective at the relevant time has been produced in this Court along with an application under Order 41, Rule 27 C.P.C. After hearing the parties, this Court by its order dated January 13, 198? has allowed the application of the appellant and has taken on record a duplicate copy of the driving licence of respondent No. 8, Teja Singh. Learned Counsel for the insurance company on that day desired to produce some evidence in rebuttal but the insurance company has not produced any evidence, oral or documentary, in order to rebut the driving licence produced on behalf of the appellants to show that Teja Singh, son of Laxman Singh resident of 2-C, Sri Ganganagar had a driving licence from October 8, 1970 and which was effective when the accident took place on November 16, 1972. The driving licence of Teja Singh, which has been produced in this Court, was in force at the time when the accident had taken place. The Tribunal had exonerated the insurer from the liability on the ground that Teja Singh was not proved to be holding a valid driving licence on the date when the accident had taken place. According to the Tribunal, no material was placed on record to show that Teja Singh had a valid driving licence on the date when the accident took place and observed that no liability could be fastened upon the insurance company, unless it is shown that the driver who was driving the vehicle at the time when accident had taken place, had a valid driving licence at that time. Now, in view of the fact that licence the of Teja Singh son of Laxman Singh, who was driving the vehicle at the time when the accident had taken place, has been produced and the same was effective and valid driving licence, the insurance company could not escape from its liability in respect of payment of compensation. As no rebuttal has been produced on behalf of the insurance company or on behalf of the other parties in respect of the fact that Teja Singh had a valid driving licence at the time when the accident had taken place, the finding recorded by the Tribunal in respect of issue No. 4 is reversed and it is held that Teja Singh driver had a valid driving licence at the time when the accident had taken place and as such the insurance company was also liable for payment of compensation to the claimants.

6. No other point was argued before me in this appeal.

7. The appeal is, therefore, partly allowed and the award passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bikaner dated May 1, 1979 is modified to the extent that award in the sum of Rs. 30,000/- in favour of respondent Nos. 1 to 7 and against the appellant Nos. 1 and 2 and respondent No. 8 is also held to have been passed against respondent No. 9, New India Assurance Company, Bombay as well. The result is that the insurer, New India Assurance Company, shall also be liable for payment of the sum of Rs. 30,000/- by way of compensation, together with interest thereon and costs awarded by the Tribunal, to respondent Nos. 1 to 7. The award passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bikaner dated May 1, 1979 shall stand modified to the extent indicated above.


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