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The Corporation of Madras, by Its Commissioner Vs. N. Jayammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1970)2MLJ189
AppellantThe Corporation of Madras, by Its Commissioner
RespondentN. Jayammal and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....in the death of ramadoss, his widow susila and his mother jayammal filed petitions before the motor accidents claims tribunal, chingleput, who, after a due enquiry, awarded compensation of rs. 3,000 to the widow and rs. 750 to the mother. as against the said award of the motor accidents claims tribunal, c. r. p. no. 1647 of 1967 has been filed by the corporation of madras, questioning the award in so far as it related to the claim made by the mother. the corporation also filed an appeal, c. m. a. no. 115 of 1967 questioning the award in so far as it related to the claim of the widow. in c.m.a. no. 115 of 1967, the widow has filed a memorandum of cross-objections seeking for an increase in the amount of compensation awarded by the motor accidents claims tribunal. the three matters.....
Judgment:

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The civil revision petition and the appeal can be dealt together. The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Chingleput, heard the petitions of the widow and mother of a deceased person by name Ramadoss who was involved in a fatal accident on 5th October, 1965, when he was travelling in the jeep belonging to the Corporation of Madras. It is common ground that Ramadoss was travelling in the said jeep not in the capacity as a workman of the Corporation of Madras, but as a person who was allowed to board the jeep for being carried from one place to another with the consent of one of the officers of the Corporation. No doubt Ramadoss, was an employee of the Corporation of Madras. But, at the time when he was travelling in the jeep, it cannot be said that he was in the course of the employment of the Corporation of Madras.

2. As the accident referred to above resulted in the death of Ramadoss, his widow Susila and his mother Jayammal filed petitions before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Chingleput, who, after a due enquiry, awarded compensation of Rs. 3,000 to the widow and Rs. 750 to the mother. As against the said award of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, C. R. P. No. 1647 of 1967 has been filed by the Corporation of Madras, questioning the award in so far as it related to the claim made by the mother. The Corporation also filed an appeal, C. M. A. No. 115 of 1967 questioning the award in so far as it related to the claim of the widow. In C.M.A. No. 115 of 1967, the widow has filed a Memorandum of Cross-objections seeking for an increase in the amount of compensation awarded by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. The three matters were dealt with and argued in common. Mr. T. Chengalvarayan the learned Counsel for the Corporation of Madras, initially stated that he was not questioning the quantum of compensation awarded by the Tribunal, but that he was on the question whether the petition for compensation was maintainable at all before the Tribunal under the Motor Vehicles Act. According to the learned Counsel, a person aggrieved in such matters should have recourse to a Tribunal constituted under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, in case the person involved in the accident was an employee of the person against whom the compensation is sought. Reliance was placed on Section 95 of the Motor Vehicles Act. In other words, Ramadoss was an employee of the Corporation of Madras. The learned Counsel states that the employee, having died while he was in service of the Corporation, the respondents were prevented from setting the process of law as prescribed under the Motor Vehicles Act into motion and that a petition under,, the 'Workmen's Compensation Act is the proper remedy. According to him, as the Corporation of Madras is exempted from insuring their motor vehicles, as is ordinarily done by other owners of motor vehicles, Section 95 is a pointer to his contention that the procedure, otherwise prescribed under this Act, is also equally excluded in cases where compensation is asked for as a result of fatal accident. Mr. Lakshminarayana Reddy, the learned Counsel for the widow, would urge that the Motor Vehicles Act is a self contained enactment and that in all cases where it becomes necessary to adjudicate upon claims for compensation in respect of accident involving the death or bodily injury to a person arising out of the use of a motor vehicle, resort to the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal is imperative and the widow or mother of the deceased or injured cannot have recourse to a Tribunal appointed under the Workmen's Compensation Act. No other contentions where raised before me.

3. The Motor Vehicles Act, (IV of 1939), is a Code which prescribes and regulates the issue of licence and incidentally touches upon the adjudication of claims in which death has resulted by reason of use of a motor vehicle. Section 110, while authorising the State Government to constitute Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, provides that such constitution is for express purpose of adjudication of claims for compensation in respect of accidents involving the death of persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles. Section 110-A, prescribes various matters to be dealt with in such an application for compensation. Such being the import and content of Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, it cannot be said that persons aggrieved by the death of another which has arisen out of the use of a motor Vehicle should have recourse to Tribunals other than that set out and delineated in section no for the express purpose. The Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, is equally an enactment made for a specific purpose. Section 3 of the Act in Chapter II enumerating employer's liability for compensation, states that, if personal injury is caused to a workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, his employer shall be liable to pay compensation in accordance with the provisions of that Chapter. The words to be noted in this section are ' injury is caused to workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment' In the instant case, it is not seriously contended by Mr. T. Chengalvarayan that R. Ramadoss, when he was travelling in the jeep could be said to be a person who was travelling in the course of employment of the Corporation of Madras. No doubt, he was an employee otherwise. At the time when the accident occurred, it cannot be said that Ramadoss was in the course of employment, and that the accident arose out of such employment. Ramadoss was casually travelling in the unfortunate jeep which collided with a lorry resulting in his death. I am of the view that the special procedure, prescribed by the Motor Vehicles Act under section no, has to prevail notwithstanding the merit in this case which of course is not disputed that Ramadoss was an employee of the Corporation of Madras. That, by itself, is not the test to decide as to which Tribunal has jurisdiction to consider and adjudicate upon a claim for compensation of the nature in issue. This is undoubtedly a claim arising out of the use of a motor vehicle and obviously, therefore, it falls within the letter and spirit of Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

4. The second contention of Mr. T. Chengalvarayan, is that Section 95 of the Motor Vehicles Act would operate as an exception to the specific law enacted in Section 110. I do not agree, Section 95 appearing in Chapter VIII of the Act deals with insurance of motor vehicles against third party risk. It is in such context that certain exceptions are made in the section, whereby it is left to the option of the owner of a vehicle to take insurance policy of one or the other kind mentioned in the section. The earlier part of Section 95 is mandatory and the proviso gives an option to Insurance company to cover the risks mentioned in the proviso or not to cover the same. Argument of the learned Counsel proceeds that, as there is exemption in favour of the Corporation of Madras, from insuring motor vehicles, it follows that the purviso to Section 95 would naturally be attracted and the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, are to prevail over the the express provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act. This argument, if accepted, would place an employee of the Corporation of Madras in a very peculiar position, and the employee, if he is involved in a fatal accident by reason of the use of a motor vehicle, should necessarily go to the Workmen's Compensation Tribunal, even though the accident occurred not in the course of his employment with Corporation. Naturally the workmen's Compensation Tribunal would reject such an application, as it has no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon a claim of that character, the claim being not related to an accident occurring in the course of the employment of the workman. I have already indicated that Ramadoss was only travelling in the jeep at the mercy or consent of others in it and he was not working as an employee of the Corporation of Madras at or about the time when he was involved in the fatal accident. I am unable to agree that Section 95 excludes the jurisdiction of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal under Section 110 of the Act.

5. While considering the Memorandum of Cross Objections filed by the widow, it is contended by Mr. Lakshminarayana Reddy, that the amount of Rs. 3,000 awarded to her as compensation is unreasonably low. It is not in dispute that Ramadoss was earning a sum of Rs. 108 per month. The learned Counsels therefore, requests for enhancement of the compensation at least by Rs. 7,000, making a total compensation of Rs. 10,000. This is opposed on the ground that the totality of salary obtained by the deceased Ramadoss was not transmitted by him to the widow when he was alive and therefore the formula by the Tribunal to capitalise the compensation on the quantum of the salary actually given by the deceased to his wife is correct and has to be upheld. This argument, if accepted, would lead to this result, if there is a husband who fails to give any money at all to his wife from and out of his salary and if ultimately such husband is involved in a fatal accident of the type under consideration, then his widow would not be entitled to any amount at all. Quantum of compensation, in my view, has to be fixed with reference to the loss sustained by the dependents of the deceased, and if it relates to a premature death of a young man, certainly, the Court would temper justice with mercy and award reasonable compensation. Ramadoss had 22 years of service yet, on the date when he died in the accident. He would have earned more than Rs. 20,000, if he had normally lived and worked. Finding that the mother has not come forward with any claim for increased compensation and taking all the circumstances into consideration, I feel the grant of a further sum of Rs. 5,000 besides the sum of Rs. 3,000, granted by the Motor Accidents Claims tribunal, would serve the ends of justice I order accordingly. The memorandum of cross objections, is therefore, allowed in part. C.M.A. No. 115 of 1967 and C.R.P. No. 1647 of 1967 are dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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