IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) Date of Decision : January 06 , 2009 Gian Chand .....Appellant Versus Jaspal Kaur and others .....Respondents CORAM : HON'BLE MR JUSTICE T.P.S. MANN Present : Mr. Deepak Suri, Advocate for the appellant. Mr. Amarjit Markan, Advocate for respondents No. 1 and 2. T.P.S. MANN, J.
Judgment dated 26.11.1992 passed by the Motor Accidents
Claims Tribunal, Sangrur, while allowing the claim petition filed by
respondents No.1 and 2 and directing the appellant and respondents
No.3 and 4 to pay a sum of Rs.8,00,000/- as compensation to the
claimants alongwith interest @ 12% per annum from the date of the
accident, stands challenged in the present appeal filed under Section 173
of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, for short ‘the Act’, preferred by the
owner of the offending jeep.
According to the claim petition filed by respondents No.1
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and 2, Amrik Singh, since deceased, was travelling on a scooter and
going from Chajjli to Sunam on 9.2.1990. A jeep bearing registration
No.HRF-2777 driven by Gurcharan Singh alias Bholla-respondent No.3
and owned by Gian Chand-appellant, while being driven rashly and
negligently, struck against the scooter. As a result, Amarik Singh
received injuries and died at the spot. The occurrence was witnessed by
Bhupinder Singh. Pleading that the claimants, who were widow and
mother of Amrik Singh, deceased were dependent upon him, they filed a
petition under Section 166 of the Act for awarding them an amount of
Rs.8,00,000/- as compensation.
The claim petition was opposed by the driver, the owner and
the insurer of the jeep. It was pleaded by them that the scooterist had
emerged suddenly from behind a tractor-trolley. However, there was no
negligence or rash driving on the part of the driver of the offending jeep.
On the basis of the pleadings of the parties, learned Tribunal
framed the following issues :-
1. Whether the death of Amrik Singh took
place by the rash and negligent driving of
respondent No. 1 as alleged in the
petition ? OPP.
2. Whether the petitioners are the L.Rs of
the deceased ? OPP.
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -3-
3. Whether the petitioners are entitled to
recover the compensation, claimed in the
petition, from the respondents ? OPP.
The claimants had examined Darshan Singh PW1, Mohinder
Kaur PW2 and Gurmail Singh PW3 in support of their claim petition,
whereas the respondents did not lead any evidence. After going through
the evidence brought on the record and hearing learned counsel for the
parties, learned Tribunal held that the accident was caused due to rash
and negligent driving of the jeep by Gurcharan Singh alias Bholla, as a
result of which Amrik Singh died. The claimants were held to be the legal
heirs of the deceased, being his widow and mother, respectively. The
monthly salary of the deceased was determined at Rs.1,200/- and the
dependency calculated at the rate of Rs.800/- per month. As the deceased
was 25 years of age and was to retire from service on attaining the age of
58/60 years, multiplier of 33 was applied so as to arrive at a figure of
Rs.3,16,800/-. As the deceased was also an agriculturalist and doing dairy
farming, it was held that he must have been earning Rs.50,000/- per year,
and, thus, the claimants entitled to claim compensation on this account at
the rate of Rs. 40,000/- per year for a period of 33 years, i.e.
Rs.13,20,000/-. The total compensation was, thus, determined as
Rs.16,36,800/-. However, as the claimants had only sought a sum of
Rs.8,00,000/- as compensation, they were awarded the said amount to be
paid to them by the driver, the owner and the insurer of the jeep
alongwith interest @ 12% per annum, as mentioned above.
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -4-
It may not be out of place to mention here that the present
appeal was initially filed by the New India Assurance Company Limited,
being insurer of the jeep and Gian Chand-owner of the jeep. On April 21,
1993, when notice of motion was issued, recovery beyond Rs.3,00,000/-
was stayed. The amount of Rs.3,00,000/-, including the amount
deposited with the appeal, was ordered to be disbursed to the claimants in
terms of the award against the security to the satisfaction of the learned
Tribunal. Later on, the appeal was admitted. An application bearing C.M.
No.20265-CII of 2006 was, thereafter, filed by the appellants with a
prayer for transposing the Insurance Company-appellant No.1 as a
respondent in the appeal. This application was allowed on July 05, 2007
and the Insurance Company was ordered to be transposed as the
respondent. Pursuant thereto, the sole appellant in the present appeal is
Gian Chand-owner of the offending jeep, whereas Insurance Company
has been arrayed as respondent No. 4.
Learned counsel for the appellant has submitted that the
accident in question did not take place on account of driving of the jeep
by Gurcharan Singh, as he was neither rash nor negligent in doing so.
After the accident, an FIR was lodged by Gurmail Singh PW3, brother of
the deceased, wherein he stated that the accident took place by chance as
the driver of the jeep applied brakes suddenly while saving a mule cart
as the mule became frightened and the jeep struck against the scooter.
Moreover, the scooterist had emerged all of a sudden from behind a
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -5-
tractor trolley and came in front of the jeep. While doing so, it was the
scootertist who was rash, negligent and careless, besides not observing
traffic rules. As a result, he struck against the jeep driven by Gurcharan
Singh. It is also submitted that there was no documentary proof brought
on the record to show that the deceased was drawing any salary from Lok
Priya General Finance and Investments Limited. Therefore, it could not
be held that the deceased was earning Rs.1,200/- per month. Moreover,
there was no land with the deceased and in case he had any such land, his
legal heirs must be earning something from the same. Besides, multiplier
of 33 applied by the learned Tribunal was on the higher side.
Accordingly, it has been prayed that the claim petition be dismissed, or,
in any case, the amount of compensation awarded by the learned Tribunal
be reduced drastically.
Learned counsel for the claimants/respondents has opposed
the appeal by submitting that it was the driver of the offending jeep, who
was rash and negligent while driving, which caused accident and as a
result of which Amrik Singh died. Darshan Singh PW1 and Gurmail
Singh PW3 had seen the occurrence as they were also proceeding on the
same road when the accident had taken place. As the offending jeep had
been deployed by Bareta Police, the signatures of Darshan Singh and
Gurmail Singh were obtained by the police on blank papers, which were
later on used for fabricating an incorrect version that Amrik Singh,
deceased, himself was rash and negligent in driving the scooter. It is also
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submitted that the deceased was 25 years of age and earning Rs.1,200/-
per month from the Lok Priya General Finance and Investment Limited,
Sangrur. The deceased was also an agriculturist by profession, besides
running a dairy. He was getting income of Rs.50,000/- from these two
occupations. The multiplier of 33 was rightly applied as the deceased was
to retire from the finance company in about 35 years’ time. Accordingly,
it has been submitted that no case was made out for the grant of any
interference in the findings arrived at by the learned Tribunal and,
therefore, appeal be dismissed.
I have heard learned counsel for the parties and with their
able, assistance perused the records.
As regards the accident in question, Darshan Singh PW1 and
Gurmail Singh PW3 deposed before the learned Tribunal that it was
caused by the driver of the jeep, who was rash and negligent in driving
the same. Though an FIR stood registered on the basis of a statement
made by Gurmail Singh, but it is borne from the records that offending
jeep had been deployed by the police. In such like situation, possibility
of a false version being recorded and, that too, at the behest of the police
so as to avoid incurring of any liability regarding the accident in which a
person had lost his life, cannot be ruled out. It was mentioned in the claim
petition that the police obtained signatures of Darshan Singh and Gurmail
Singh on blank papers. Apparently those blank papers were, later on,
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -7-
used by the police so as to show that the accident had taken place by
chance and the jeep driver was not negligent at all in causing the
accident. Even otherwise, there is no material available on the record
from which it could be made out that it was the deceased, who was rash,
negligent and careless in driving the scooter or not observing the traffic
rules when he struck against the offending jeep. In view of the above, the
findings arrived at by the learned Tribunal that the accident was caused
due to rash and negligent driving of the jeep by Gurcharan Singh, as a
result of which Amrik Singh died, is confirmed.
The deceased was 25 years of age at the time of his death.
He was in the employment of a finance company from where he was
drawing a monthly salary of Rs.1,200/- per month. Therefore, the
dependency could be easily calculated at the rate of Rs.800/- per month.
In the claim petition, it was mentioned that apart from being
an employee of the finance company, the deceased was also an
agriculturist by profession, besides doing dairy farming. Mohinder Kaur,
while appearing as PW2, deposed that the deceased had been earning
Rs.1,00,000/- from cultivation of land and after his death income from
the land had diminished.
During the pendency of the appeal, C.M. No.18612-CII of
2006 under Order XLI Rule 27 C.P.C. was filed by the claimants for
placing on record birth certificate Annexure P.1 and school certificate
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -8-
Ex. P.2 of Sukhpreet Kaur, daughter of the deceased and Jamabandies
Annexure P.3 for the year 1966-67 and Annexure P.4 for the year
1991-92 by way of additional evidence. Learned counsel for the appellant
had sought time to file a reply to the application but no such reply ever
came to be filed. In view of the same, the said application was allowed.
A perusal of the Jamabandies would reveal that Bhagwan Singh and
Mohinder Kaur, father and mother, respectively, of Amrik Singh,
deceased had 1/4th share each in agricultural land measuring 301 Kanals
2 Marlas. Their total share, thus, came to about 19 killas. Apart from
Amrik Singh, deceased, his parents had another son, who was aged 18
years. Thus, Amrik Singh, deceased was owner and in occupation of
about 9½ acres of land through his parents. It has been admitted by
Mohinder Kaur PW2 that after the death of her son Amrik Singh, income
from the land had diminished. Therefore, this Court can reasonably assess
the annual income of the deceased from agricultural operations and dairy
farming to be Rs.45,000/-. After deducting an amount of Rs.10,000/-
towards the expenses incurred in the agricultural operations as well as the
money spent by the deceased upon himself, an amount of Rs.35,000/- can
be held to have been handed over by him to the claimants-respondents.
Adding the income from the finance company to the income derived from
agricultural operations, etc., the deceased had been contributing an
amount of Rs.44,600/- per annum.
As regards the multiplier, the one applied by the learned
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Tribunal was on the higher side. As the age of the deceased at the time of
the accident, was 25 years, multiplier of 18 can safely be applied so as to
determine the final amount of compensation in the appeal. Once the
multiplier of 18 is applied to the annual dependency of Rs.44,600/-, the
amount of compensation works out to be Rs.8,02,800/-. However, as the
claimants/respondents had themselves prayed for granting an amount of
Rs.8,00,000/- only as compensation, their prayer, as such, has to be
In view of the above discussion, it is held that the annual
income derived by the deceased from agricultural operations was
Rs.45,000/- and dependency on that count was Rs.35,000/- annually.
However, the multiplier of ’33’ applied by the learned Tribunal is reduced
to ’18’. At the same time, the amount of Rs.8,00,000/- granted by the
learned Tribunal to the claimants as compensation alongwith interest @
12% per annum from the date of the accident, i.e. 9.2.1990 is upheld.
The appeal is, accordingly, disposed of.
( T.P.S. MANN ) January 06, 2009 JUDGE satish Whether to be referred to the Reporters : YES / NO