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Dharam Vir Kapur Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.O. No. 25 of 1970
Judge
Reported inAIR1976HP93
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Section 110B, 110C, 110CC and 110D
AppellantDharam Vir Kapur
RespondentState of Himachal Pradesh and ors.
Appellant Advocate K.D. Sood, Adv.
Respondent Advocate B. Sita Ram, Adv. General and; D.K. Khanna, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases Referred and K. G. Bhaskaran v. K. A. Thankamma
Excerpt:
motor vehicles - compensation - appellant injured due to rash and negligent driving by driver of bus belonging to respondent - doctor advised him light diet and light activity for period of six weeks due to which he could not attend his contract work - claimed compensation - claim tribunal awarded compensation of rs. 4000 - appellant sought enhancement of compensation - damages to be ascertained by claims tribunal - high court to interfere only if wrong principle of law is applied - award made by claim tribunal much below expense incurred on medical and damages occurred to car - no valid principle of law on basis of which claim tribunal can reduce award below expenses incurred and damage suffered - high court enhanced compensation by rs. 896.35. - .....to them he was negligent and the government was not liable to pay any compensation.3. the claims tribunal held that the driver of the bus was negligent and as such the respondents were liable to pay compensation. however the claims tribunal awarded rs. 4,000 as compensation. the appellant considers that the amount awarded is rather low and hence he has filed the present appeal for enhancement of compensation.4. it is very well settled that essentially the claims tribunal has to ascertain damages. the high court will only interfere if a wrong principle of law is applied or the compensation awarded is inordinately low. as long as the discretion exercised by the claims tribunal is held to be based on a reasonable principle and the amount of compensation is ascertained for cogent.....
Judgment:

D.B. Lal, J.

1. This appeal under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 arises from the decision of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Mahasu. The appellant Dharamvir Kapur along with his companion Madan Gopal was coming in a car No. CH161 on 4-1-1969 from Chandigarh and was proceeding to Subathu where he had taken a contract for laying out water pipe line to the Cantonment area. While this car was negotiating a curve at a distance of four miles from Dharampur, it was met with a bus HIL 3661 belonging to the Himachal Government Transport. According to the appellant the bus was coming at a high speed and dashed against the car as the driver (respondent No. 2) due to negligence, failed to apply the brakes. The car of the appellant was towards its left side and he had gone to the extreme limit hardly two feet away from the hill. Still the bus collided against the car and not only damaged the car but also caused injuries to the appellant.

Firstly the appellant was brought to the civil hospital at Dharampur and was given some treatment there. Thereafter the appellant was brought to the Post-Graduate Institute, Chandigarh and was treated by Dr. P. N. Kataria. At first the doctor suspected that the appellant had suffered injury in the liver and abdomen but after four days the appellant settled down and the necessity of operation was ruled out. After a few days he became all right and was discharged from the hospital on 17-1-1969. He was advised by the doctor a light diet and light activity outside for a period of six weeks. According to the appellant he could not attend to his contract work at Subathu and could go to the site of construction only in July 1969. Accordingly the appellant claimed a compensation of Rs. 52,000 from the Government.

2. The respondents not only denied the quantum of damages but also pleaded that the appellant himself was at fault. According to them he was negligent and the Government was not liable to pay any compensation.

3. The Claims Tribunal held that the driver of the bus was negligent and as such the respondents were liable to pay compensation. However the Claims Tribunal awarded Rs. 4,000 as compensation. The appellant considers that the amount awarded is rather low and hence he has filed the present appeal for enhancement of compensation.

4. It is very well settled that essentially the Claims Tribunal has to ascertain damages. The High Court will only interfere if a wrong principle of law is applied or the compensation awarded is inordinately low. As long as the discretion exercised by the Claims Tribunal is held to be based on a reasonable principle and the amount of compensation is ascertained for cogent and valid reasons, no interference can be asked for by the High Court in appeal. It is, therefore, to be considered in this light of the case, as to whether the amount of compensation awarded by the Claims Tribunal is inordinately low or it has been reduced by applying a wrong principle of law.

5. It is evident that there could be a special compensation as well as a general compensation. The special compensation related to the amount spent in medicine, hospital care and other medical attendance procured for the appellant. The Claims Tribunal has awarded a sum of Rs. 800 for all that. This amount seems to be low because expenses in hospital and medicine amounted to Rs. 933.85 P. In fact the appellant was debited for this amount in the firm account. Ex. P.W. 7/1 is the debit account and the expenses incurred by the appellant were noted down as Rs. 933.85 Paise. Therefore, there was no valid principle of law which could prevail upon the learned Claims Tribunal to reduce that amount to Rs. 800.

6. Similarly the damage sustained in the car was paid for by the appellant and the receipt for repairs done is of Rs. 1962-50 Paise. Both the voucher as well as the receipt were filed before the Tribunal. These were not objected to by the respondents. The Claims Tribunal has awarded only Rs. 1,000 and again committed an error for not giving the entire amount, which the appellant actually spent in the repair of the car. The Claims Tribunal was not strictly governed by the rules of evidence. The vouchers regarding expenses in the hospital and the vouchers and the receipt for the repair work done in the car were all admitted without any objection. As such these documents could be duly considered for awarding compensation. In K. Gopala-krishnan v. Shankara Narayanan, 1969 Acc CJ 34 = (AIR 1968 Mad 436) a Division Bench of Madras High Court held that the Claims Tribunal is not bound by the provisions of the Evidence Act though it is not in the position of an arbitrator. The Tribunal can rely upon vouchers produced by the appellant and not objected to by the respondents. Thus the total amount of Rs. 1962-50 paise was to be awarded for damage done to the car.

7. As regards the special damages suffered by the appellant for loss in business there was hardly any proof in favour of the appellant. Only two statements of Madan Gopal (P.W. 2) and of the appellant (P.W. 7) were relevant in that connection. Madan Gopal clearly stated that the work of Subathu never stopped although it slowed down. The appellant could not come to Subathu for about 21/2 months although the appellant himself showed that he remained absent upto July, 1969. According to Madan Gopal the appellant used to give advice and since his advice was not received for 21/2 months or might have been received indirectly from some other source, the construction work was delayed. The entire allegation is so vague that nothing can be inferred from this. It is evident that the appellant was not required to undertake any heavy duty in the performance of the contract. According to Madan Gopal, S. R. Kapur who was the brother of the appellant used to supervise the construction work. The appellant also admitted that his brother used to look after the work and that he could not complete the Subathu contract upto March 1969 and the period of contract was extended upto July 1969. It was for him to prove in what manner he suffered loss and to what extent he was debited for that loss in the firm account. The appellant is a partner of 40% interest in the firm. Admittedly there was a profit of about 15% in the contract work. There could be decidedly some handicap in the progress of the work due to the absence or neglect on the part of the appellant. As regards general damages which related to the pain and suffering, the assessment could only be as laid down by Lord Denning in Ward v. James (1965) 1 All ER 563 on three things: First assessability, second uniformity and third predictability. The appellant has failed to give any comparable data and, therefore, the second test is not to be applied. As regards the first and the third tests the appellant had suffered a little pain and some fear, as injury was suspected in the liver. The agony lasted for four days when he gradually recovered. There is no permanent disability. The Claims Tribunal has awarded Rs. 2,000 in all for damages for loss of business which in fact were not proved to the extent claimed by the appellant. In my opinion, the sum of Rupees 2,000 can be awarded as compensation both for loss of business and also for general damages due to pain and suffering of the appellant.

8. The learned counsel also insisted that interest should have been awarded and he derives his right under Section 110-CC of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. It was held in A. Harsha V. Rai v. Dr. K. V. Kama, 1973 Acc CJ 57 = (AIR 1973 Mys 162) and K. G. Bhaskaran v. K. A. Thankamma (1973 Acc CJ 539) (Ker) that 6% interest can be awarded on the amount of compensation from the date of the application upto the date of payment. Accordingly interest at 6% per annum is awarded from the date of the application to the date of payment.

9. In this manner the appellant is entitled to Rs. 2,896.35 P. as compensation for medical treatment as well as for damages to the car. He is also awarded Rs. 2,000 as compensation for loss of business as well as for general damages suffered due to pain and suffering sustained by the appellant. In all the appellant is entitled to Rs. 4,896.35 P. as compensation. He is entitled to 6% per annum interest on this amount from the date of the application to the date of payment.

10. Since the appellant has exaggerated his claim inordinately the parties are to be left to bear their own costs throughout.

11. The appeal is allowed in so far as the amount awarded as compensation to the appellant is enhanced by Rs. 896.35 Paise. In all the appellant is entitled to claim Rs. 4,896.35 Paise as compensation from the respondents. He is also entitled to interest at 6% per annum on this amount from the date of the application to the date of payment. The parties shall appear their costs throughout.


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