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Smt. Vidya Devi and ors. Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles;Civil
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.O. (MVA) No. 35 of 1978
Judge
Reported inAIR1982HP89
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110-B; ;Punjab Motor Vehicles Rules, 1940 - Rule 4.60; ;Evidence Act, 1872 - Section 114
AppellantSmt. Vidya Devi and ors.
RespondentState of Himachal Pradesh and ors.
Appellant Advocate G.S. Ahuja, Adv.
Respondent Advocate M.L. Chauhan, Law Officer
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredNarayanlal v. Rukhmanibai
Excerpt:
.....as respondent no. 3 was not authorized to give lift - appellant contended that respondent 1 and 2 were also liable to pay compensation being owners of vehicles - rule 4.60 prohibits carrying passenger in trucks - respondent no. 3 driving vehicle in course of employment being servant of employer violating statutory rule while driving a vehicle is an act of employee for which owner is vicariously liable. - .....this reason the owners are not liable. reference has been made to rule 4.60 of the punjab motor vehicles rules, as applicable to this state.9. it is an admitted fact that ram dass was in the employment of respondents 1 and 2 and was driving the vehicle owned by respondents 1 and 2 at the relevant time. there is no evidence on record to prove that the truck had been taken by ram dass driver in an unauthorised manner and for this reason, it has to be presumed that ram dass was driving the truck in the course of his employment.10. the respondents have not led any evidence to prove that ram dass was forbidden to give a lift to ram saran deceased.11. rule 4.60 of the punjab motor vehicles rules reads as follows:'4.60. carriage of persons in goods vehicles. -- (1) save in the case of a.....
Judgment:

V.P. Gupta, J.

1. The appellants have filed this appeal against the award, dated 12th April, 1978, of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Simla (hereinafter called the Tribunal).

2. The brief facts are that Ram Saran was travelling in truck No. HPS 1036 on 20th April, 1974, when this truck met with an accident near Chhots Simla on the Dhalli-Shoghi Road. Ram Saran died as a result of the accident and the present appellants are his legal heirs being the widow and the sons. The appellants filed a claim petition claiming a compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- for the death of Ram Saran against the respondents on the allegations that Ram Dass (respondent No. 3) was driving the vehicle rashly and negligently and that the accident was caused on account of his rashand negligent driving. The truck was in the ownership of respondents 1 and 2 and Ram Dass (respondent No. 3) was employed as a driver by respondents 1 and 2.

3. The application of the appellants was contested by the respondents and on the pleadings of the parties the following issues were framed:

'1. Whether the accident was due to the rash and negligent driving of Shri Ram Dass driver, as alleged, if so, its effect? OPP.

2. If isssue No. 1 is found in the affirmative to what compensation the petitioners are entitled to? OPP.

3. Whether Shri Ram Dass took truck No. HPS 1036 on 19-4-1974 without the permission of the in-charge of the vehicle which met with an accident on Dhalli Shogi Road at 22.10 hours, if so, its effect? OPR 1 and 2.

4. Whether the respondent No. 3 is not obliged to pay the compensation for the reasons set out in the reply? OPR 3.

5. Relief.'

The Tribunal decided issues Nos. 1 and 2 in favour of the appellants but decided issues. Nos. 3 and 4 in favour of respondents Nos. 1 and 2, and as a result of these findings allowed the appellants a sum of Rs. 27050/- against respondent No. 3 only,

4. In this appeal, I have heard Shri G. S. Ahuja, Advocate, far the appellants and Shri M. L. Chauhan, Law Officer, for respondents 1 and 2.

5. The only contention raised by the learned counsel for the appellants was that the claim petition of the appellants should have been allowed against respondents 1 and 2 also, as respondents 1 and 2 are also liable to pay compensation to the appellants being the owners of the vehicle. The learned counsel did not contest the findings of the Tribunal on any other issue.

6- The learned counsel for the respondents contends that the owners of the vehicle, i. e. respondents 1 and 2 are not liable for compensation payable to the appellants for the reasons that Ram Saran deceased was a trespasser in the truck and that Ram Dass (respondent No. 3) was not authorised to give any lift to Ram Saran deceased.

7. I have considered the contentions of the learned counsel for the parties andhave also gone through the records of the case.

8. The Tribunal has awarded compensation to the appellants against respon-dent No. 3 only and has dismissed appellant's claim against respondents Nos. 1 and 2 on the ground that respondent No. 3 was not authorised to give any lift to Ram Saran deceased and that Ram Saran deceased was only s trespasser in the truck and for this reason the owners are not liable. Reference has been made to Rule 4.60 of the Punjab Motor Vehicles Rules, as applicable to this State.

9. It is an admitted fact that Ram Dass was in the employment of respondents 1 and 2 and was driving the vehicle owned by respondents 1 and 2 at the relevant time. There is no evidence on record to prove that the truck had been taken by Ram Dass driver in an unauthorised manner and for this reason, it has to be presumed that Ram Dass was driving the truck in the course of his employment.

10. The respondents have not led any evidence to prove that Ram Dass was forbidden to give a lift to Ram Saran deceased.

11. Rule 4.60 of the Punjab Motor Vehicles Rules reads as follows:

'4.60. Carriage of persons in goods vehicles. -- (1) Save in the case of a vehicle which is being used for the carriage of troops or in the case of stage carriage in which goods are being carried in addition to passengers no person shall be carried in goods vehicle other than a bona fide employee of the owner or the hirer of the vehicle and except in accordance with this rule.'

12. In this situation the next question which arises for consideration is as to whether respondents 1 and 2 are also liable for the negligence of respondent No. 3, when respondent No. 3 was driving the truck in the course of his employment.

13. The master's liability is based on the ground that the act is done in the scope or course of his employment or authority by the servant and the master must be held to be responsible for the conduct of his servant. The master is answerable for the manner in which the servant conducts himself on the journey, not only in the driving of the vehicle but also in giving lifts to persons, provided that in so doing the servant is acting in the course of his employment. The view which I am taking has beenaccepted in Pushpabai Parshottam Udeshi v. Ranjit Ginning & Processing Co. Pvt. Ltd. (AIR 1977 SC 1735), wherein their Lordships of the Supreme Court have accepted the view expressed by Lord Justice Denning in Young v. Edward Box and Co. Ltd. ((1951) 1 TLR 789). Lord Justice Denning had observed that 'the passenger was a trespasser so far as the employers were concerned but nevertheless the driver was acting in the course of his employment and that is sufficient to make the employers liable'. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court, in the aforementioned case of Pushpabai Parshottam Udeshi and other, have further observed in para 14 of the judgment in following words:

'Before we conclude, we would like to point out that the recent trend in law is to make the master liable for acts which do not strictly fall within the term 'in the course of the employment' as ordinarily understood. We have referred to Sitaram Motilal Kalal v. Santanuprasad Jaishanker Bhatt (AIR 1966 SC 1697) where this Court accepted the las laid down by Lord Denning in Ormrod v. Crosville Motor Services Ltd., (1953) 2 All ER 753 (supra) that the owner is not only liable for the negligence of the driver if that driver is his servant acting in the course of his employment but also when the driver is, with the owner's consent, driving the car on the owner's business or for the owner's purposes. This extension has been accepted by this Court. The lae as laid down by Lord Denning in Young v. Edward Box and Co. Ltd. already referred to i. e. the first question is to see whether the servant is liable and if the answer is yes, the second question is to see whether the employer must shoulder the servant's liability, has been uniformly accepted as stated in Salmond Law of Torts, 15th Ed., page 606, in Crown Proceedings Act, 1947 and approved by the House of Lords in Staveley Iron & Chemical Co. Ltd. v. Jones, 1956 AC 627 and I.C.I. Ltd. v. Shatwell, 1965 AC 656.'

It may be mentioned that the law as laid down by Lord Justice Denning in Young v. Edward Box and Co. Ltd. was first accepted in Sitaram Motilai Kalal v. Santanuprasad Jaishankar Bhatt (AIR 1966 SC 1697), and their Lordships in Pushpabai Parshottam Udeshi's case (supra) have confirmed this view.

14. Another contention raised was that respondent No. 3 could not give alift to Ram Saran deceased under Rule 4-60 of the Punjab Motor Vehicles Rules. In view of the Supreme Court decision in Pushpabai parshottam Udeshi's case (AIR 1977 SC 1735) (supra), this contention of the learned counsel for the respondent has no force. Ram Dass (respondent No. 3) might have acted in an unauthorised manner and in disregard of the prohibition either by the master or by the provision of law, but such a prohibition cannot be taken to be a limited factor on the scope of his employment. Rule 4.60 puts a prohibition in carrying passengers in the truck, but this rule merely deals with the conduct of the driver within the sphere of the employment which is to drive the vehicle in execution of the master's business. That sphere is not in any manner limited by the prohibition contained in the statutory rules. In a Full Bench decision in Narayanlal v. Rukhmanibai, (AIR 1979 Madh Pra 74) it was observed by the Hon'ble Judges that a statutory rule providing that no person should be carried in a goods vehicle other than the bona fide employee of the owner or hirer of the vehicle, deals with the conduct of the driver within the sphere of employment and that this sphere is not in any manner limited by prohibition contained in the statutory rule in question. In the present case, after it is proved that Ram Dass (respondent No. 3) was driving the vehicle in the course of the employment, being a servant of the employer, giving of a lift to Ram Saran deceased in disregard of the statutory rule or prohibition, while driving the vehicle, is an act of the employee for which the owner is vicariously liable. I have also taken the view as laid down in Narayanlal's case (supra), which view is primarily based upon Pushpabai Parshottam Udeshi (supra). Therefore, it has to be held that respondents 1 and 2 are also liable for payment of compensation to the appellants.

15. In view of the above discussion, this appeal of the appellants is accepted, and the award of the Tribunal is modified to the extent that the appellants' claim for Rs. 27,050/- as apportioned by the Tribunal, is allowed against all the respondents.

16. The parties are left to bear their own costs.


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