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Hanuman Dass vs Hans Raj And Ors. on 4 February, 1994

Punjab-Haryana High Court
Hanuman Dass vs Hans Raj And Ors. on 4 February, 1994
Equivalent citations: 1 (1996) ACC 79
Author: N Jain
Bench: N Jain


JUDGMENT

N.C. Jain, J.

1. This appeal has been filed by the appellant against the award of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Faridabad, dated 14.5.1984, dismissing the application under Section 110-A of Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. The appellant averred in the application that he was sitting on the pillion of the motor cycle which was being driven by Ram Murat Yadav when he met with an accident with Truck No. HRP 2636. According to him, the truck was being driven rashly and negligently as a result of which the accident took place. The appellant, according to the case made out by him, was taken to Holy Family Hospital, after he suffered injuries, where he remained admitted from 30.12.1980 to 29.1.1981 and thereafter from 11.8.1981 to 26.8.1981 and during the period of his treatment, he had spent a sum of Rs. 20,000/- on his medical treatment. The appellant has stated that he was operated upon twice. According to him, his leg was not working well and he was permanently disabled. He claimed a sum of Rs. 40,000/- alongwith interest. The claim application was hotly contested and in view of the rival case, the Tribunal struck the following issues:

(1) Whether the accident took place on account of rash and negligent driving of Truck No. HRP 2636 by Hans Raj, Respondent No. 1?

(2) On proof of issue No. 1 to what amount, if any, is petitioner entitled by way of compensation and from whom?

(3) Whether the petition is within time?

(4) Whether the petition is barred for non-joinder of necessary parties, as alleged?

(5) Relief.

2. Under issue No. 1 it has been held by the Tribunal that the truck was not being driven by the respondent either as owner or as driver. It has been observed by the District Judge that the claimant Hanuman Dass while appearing as AW 1 did not say a single word to show that the truck in question was being driven by Hans Raj. Hans Raj, RW 1, while appearing as a witness stated that on the day of the alleged occurrence he was neither its owner nor its driver. The Tribunal also observed that Beni Prasad, RW 2, had stated that the truck in question belonged to him and that on the date of the accident it was being driven by one JaswantSingh. After making the aforementioned observations/the learned District Judge concluded that the truck in question was not being driven by respondent Hans Raj. It was further held that the accident did not take place due to the rash and negligent driving of the truck in question. Issue Nos. 3 and 4 were discussed together by the Tribunal and it was held that the petition was not within time and that the same was bad for non-joinder of necessary parties. In order to support the findings under the aforementioned issues, the Tribunal observed that the truck did not belong to Hans Raj and that the appellant did not file any application for impleading the Insurance Company as a party despite the grant of time for doing so. Reference has been made to the statement of Beni Prasad, RW 2, who stated that truck in question belonged to him and it was insured with the New India? Assurance Co. Ltd. Reference has also been made to his statement wherein he stated that some accident did take place and that Jaswant Singh was its driver. Issue No. 2 was decided as a result of the finding recorded by the Tribunal on issue Nos. 3 and 4 and it went against the appellant. Consequently, the petition was dismissed.

3. At the very outset, the Counsel for the appellant, Mr. A.P. Bhandari, did , agree that the present case cannot be said to be properly conducted and that it appears to have been mishandled. He, however, argued that the Tribunal has not taken into consideration certain aspects of the matter and if the evidence had been properly appraised, the petition could not have been dismissed. He has taken me through the entire evidence and on its perusal I have come to the conclusion that on the basis of the evidence led by the appellant the petition could not be dismissed. There is no doubt that the application was filed after the expiry of period of limitation and that the appellant did not file the necessary application for impleading the owner and the Insurance Company at the right stage but the appellant having filed an application for condonation of delay, the Tribunal could condone the delay after adopting a liberal approach in this direction. I am further of the view that once Beni Prasad had stepped into the witness box and admitted the factum of the accident and having given the name of the Insurance Company, the Claims Tribunal should have impleaded the owner and the Insurance Company even if request in this direction was made at a late stage. Even on the point of negligence, the finding of the Tribunal cannot be sustained in view of the statement of Hanuman Dass, the injured person. In fact, the statement of Hanuman Dass, claimant, deserves to be noticed on all the points which is being done hereinafter.

4. The claimant while appearing as AW 1 has stated that on 30.12.1980 he was sitting on the pillion seat of motor cycle of Ram Moorat Yadav and was going from Bata Chowk to his math. When they were at a distance of one furlong from Budkhal crossing towards Delhi, one truck bearing No. HRP 2636 being driven rashly and negligently came from the backside and hit the motor cycle as a result of which he fell down and became unconscious. He was shifted to Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi, in an injured and unconscious condition where he remained admitted uptil 29.1.1981 and during this period his left leg was operated upon. He has further stated that his bones could not be united and was again operated upon and remained admitted in the hospital from 11.8.1981 to 26.8.1981. During this period he could not do any work under the medical advice of the doctor. He has stated that he spent about Rs. 15,000/-, out of which some money was contributed by his followers. About his income, he has stated that he used tos earn Rs. 50 to 60 per day from the temple donation and that on account of the accident his income had lessened. He has further stated that even now (on the date of giving the statement in the Court) he was not in a position to walk. He stated that an iron rod had been inserted into his left leg by the doctor at the time of the operation. He further stated that he reported the matter of accident to the police on 6.11.1981 and that mark ‘A’ was copy of the FIR. Mark ‘B’ was the medical certificate issued by the Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi. In cross-examination he denied the suggestion that no accident had taken place. He further denied the suggestion that he had not spent any money on his medical treatment.

5. In view of the statement of the claimant, it will not be safe to hold that no accident took place, particularly when Beni Prasad while appearing as RW 2 did admit that accident took place. The factum of the accident is proved even from the statement of Beni Prasad. In fact, the statement of Beni Prasad in its entirety goes in favour of the claimant inasmuch as he has stated that he was the owner of the truck and that it was insured with the New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Beni Prasad was further constrained to admit that the truck was being driven by one Jaswant Singh on the date of accident. In the light of the statement of Beni Prasad, the sworn testimony of Hanuman Dass does inspire confidence. It will be seen that the appellant never stated that the truck was being driven by Hans Raj. On the other hand, he stated that the truck hit their motor cycle from the backside on account of which he fell down and became unconscious. He further stated that the truck was being driven negligently and rashly. Once the claimant was categorical in his statement that the truck struck from behind and the acetum of its being driven by Jaswant Singh not having been denied by Beni Prasad it cannot be said that there is no evidence ofnegligent driving. On the basis of the evidenceled, I hereby hold that the truck was being driven negligently. It is further held that Beni Prasad was the owner of the truck and that the same was insured with the New India Assurance Co. Ltd. The application of the appellant for imp leading them as parties, although filed at a late stage, should have been allowed in view of the confinement tof the appellant in the hospital at New Delhi. In any case, I after taking a lenient view of the matter hereby condone the delay.

6. The question now arises whether after the condo nation of delay and after imp leading Beni Prasad and New India Assurance Co. Ltd., the case should be remanded to the District Judge for afresh decision in order to determine the amount of compensation. The Counsel for the parties, during the course of arguments, expressed their views to the effect that the case need not be remanded as more than a decade has already passed since the date of the accident. They submitted before me that whatever reasonable compensation this Court thinks appropriate be awarded to the appellant. It has been observed by me while referring to the statement of the appellant that he was operated upon twice and that an iron rod has been inserted into his leg, may be no details of expenditure have been given and no doctor has been summoned to prove the medical certificate, mark ‘B’. As such the appellant must have suffered a lot of pain and agony on account of the injury and on account of operations he must have incurred some expenditure. For pain and agony and on account of medical expenses, I hereby grant compensation of Rs. 10,000/- which be paid to the appellant at the earliest and in any case within a period of two months from today. This Court is not inclined to grant interest on the amount of compensation as the application for imp leading the Insurance Company is being allowed by me today which was not done by the Tribunal. Even otherwise, as has been stated by the Counsel for the appellant that the case was not properly handled at the earlier stage and, therefore, it would not be in the interest of justice to saddle the Insurance Company with the liability of interest.

7. With the aforementioned observations, I hereby allow the appeal, set aside the impugned award of the Tribunal and grant a sum of Rs. 10,000/- by way of compensation which would be borne by the owner and the Insurance Company jointly and severally. The appellant would also have the costs of the appeal as well as the claim petition which I hereby quantify at Rs. 1,100/-.

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