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Suraj NaraIn and anr. Vs. Sneh Lata JaIn and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1986)ACC254
AppellantSuraj NaraIn and anr.
RespondentSneh Lata JaIn and ors.
Cases ReferredSushma Mitra v. M.P. State Road Transport Corporation
Excerpt:
- - jadavji keshavji modi 1981 acj 507 (sc), now it is well established law that 'any one accident' means accident to 'any one' and, therefore, the liability of the insurance company is not limited of rs. in some of the states, like, tamilnadu, even when the claimants do not file claim petition, the tribunals are required to grant damages and compensation......evidence was produced was not believed so far as the rashness and negligent driving of the bus driver of vehicle no. rrl 3804 is concerned. in view of this, mr. bhargava submitted that even 1/3rd liability fastened on vehicle no. rrl 3804 deserves to be set aside.18. i have considered the contention of mr. bhargava. it is true that the allegations in the claim petition were not there but, 1 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 (mp), is concerned, it is not necessary that there may be any specific averment on that point in the.....
Judgment:

G.M. Lodha, J.

1. These two appeals have been filed against the award of the Accidents Claims Tribunal. Jaipur in accident claim case No. 11 of 1977. The accident took place on 16th September, 1972. Miss Sneh Lata was travelling in bus No. RRL 8548 and was coming to Jaipur from Veer Hanuman Samod village. The bus No. RRL 8548 was being driven by Suraj Narain driver. In the south of Chemu village at a distance of 1 mile, another bus No. RRL 3804 which was being driven by Tara Chand driver, collided with the bus No. RRL 8548. The bus No. RRL 8548 after the accident struck a telephone pole. 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 of Rs. Rs. 1,31,000/- was made by Sneh Lata. Bus Nos. RRL 8548 and RRL 3804, both, are insured with M/s. Anand Insurance Co. Jaipur, a unit of M/s. New India Assurance Co. separately.

3. The Tribunal after recording the evidence, came to the conclusion that Sneh Lata's right band was cut in this accident and at the time of the accident, Sneh Lata's hand was outside but 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. 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. 8548 responsible and liable due to the negligence and rashness the Tribunal then considered the case of bus No. RRL 3804. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that both the buses dashed against each other from the sides as they passed closely in the middle of the road. The Tribunal then observed that although Sneh Lata had not alleged any negligence of the bus driver (No. RRL 3804) but, 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 the 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 Madhya Pradesh High Court in Sushma Mitra v. M.P. State Road Transport Corporation 1974 ACJ 87 (MP). In this judgment, their Lordships, observed that normally, when the buses are plied and passengers sitting inside the buses are on a long journey, they are bound to rest their elbow 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. If this precaution is not taken, it would tantamount to negligence. Relying on this doctrine enunciated by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Tribunal observed that the drivers are guilty of composite negligence.

6. However, while fixing the liability, the Tribunal observed that the liability of the driver of bus No. RRL 8548 is two-third and, one-third for the bus No. RRL 8548. Mr. Mehta appearing for the appellant Suraj Narain has argued firstly that the finding of negligence and rashness is not Justified so far as the 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, Kailasbnarain and Ramkishore, in holding that the driver of the bus No. RRL 3804 was driving at a fast speed and guilty of rashness. Mr. 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 Mr. Mehta, is that in view of the decision of the apex court in Motor Owner's Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jadavji Keshavji Modi 1981 ACJ 507 (SC), now it is well established law that 'any one accident' means accident to 'any one' and, therefore, the liability of the insurance company is not limited of 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 so 1982, reads 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 passenger in any other case.

9. Mr. 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 52 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-clause s (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 Mr. Mehta for the simple reason that, the established principle of interpretation of statute is that the legislature would be assumed to have never used any superfluous words or phrases. Here, Mr. Mehta wants me to ignore sub clause (4) completely. If Sub-clause (4) is given effect to, it would mean that apart from rider of clause (ii) and its various parts or Sub-clause s (1), (2) and (3), there is 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 purposes of 30 passengers only then limit would be Rs. 50,000/-. However, each passenger would not get more than Rs. 5,000/-. In case all the 30 passengers are injured then the liability of the owner of the vehicle would be 30 x 5,000/- = 1,50,000/- but, the liability of the insurance would be only to the extent of Rs. 50,000/-. The ceiling of Rs. 50,000/- is for whole of the liability. But, there is ceiling of Rs. 5,000/- in case of passengers in vehicle other than motor cab as enshrined in Sub-clause (4), thus the insurance company would be liable 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' Ins. Co. v. J.K. Modi 1981 ACJ 507(SC), in para 24, their Lordships of the Supreme Court leaving the question open, observed as under:

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.

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

12. In fact, I have tried to persuade myself, to accept the view point of Mr. Mehta as it would be in consonance with the 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 helplessness, in giving a liberal interpretation which would have certainly benefitted the injured in taking the compensation from the insurance company.

13. 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 upto Rs. 50,000/- from the insurance company but curiously enough a passenger who pays the bus fare would be at a disadvantage as Sub-clause (4) would limit the quantum of compensation of Rs. 5,000/- or Rs. 10,000/- only, as the case may be. This obviously requires legislative interference.

14. Mr. Mehta then argued that according to the insurance policy, the liability was upto Rs. 50,000/- for each person.

15. I have perused the insurance policy. The limits of the liability where Rs. 50,000/- has been mentioned, also mentions endorsements No. 16, 31 and 13a 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 person 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.

16. Obviously, Sneh Lata cannot come in any one of the categories and her liability is limited to Rs. 5,000/- so far as the Insurance Company is concerned, for the purposes of indemnifying the owner.

17. Mr. 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 he rashly drove the vehicle. Mr. Bhargava also submitted that there was no evidence to this extent and whatever evidence was produced was not believed so far as the rashness and negligent driving of the bus driver of vehicle No. RRL 3804 is concerned. In view of this, Mr. Bhargava submitted that even 1/3rd liability fastened on vehicle No. RRL 3804 deserves to be set aside.

18. I have considered the contention of Mr. Bhargava. It is true that the allegations in the claim petition were not there but, 1 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 (MP), 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 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, Tamilnadu, even when the claimants do not file claim petition, the Tribunals are required to grant damages and compensation.

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

20. Obviously, the two buses dashed against each other from the sides as they did not leave enough space in between. It was only on account of 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 (supra) 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 at a fast 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.

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

22. It has come in evidence that vehicle No. RRL 8548 was being driven at a very fast speed so much so 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 respons bility to be more than that of other driver, is just and proper and calls for no interference in this appeal.

23. 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.

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


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