Gian Chand vs Jaspal Kaur And Others on 1 January, 2009

Punjab-Haryana High Court
Gian Chand vs Jaspal Kaur And Others on 1 January, 2009
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
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -2-

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
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -6-

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
F.A.O. No. 611 of 1993 (O&M) -9-

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

accepted.

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
 

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