HIGH COURT OF CHATTISGARH OF BILASPUR Misc Appeal No 693 of 2004 State of Chhattisgarh ...Petitioners Versus 1 Lakhmania Devi 2 Ku Savita 3 Shambhu Singh Claimants 1 to 3 All residents of village Mitgai 4 Anand Kumar Agrawal 5 Dilbagh Singh 6 The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd ...Respondents ! Mr Kishore Bhaduri Additional Advocate General for the State appellant ^ 1 Mr J A Lohani Advocate for respondents 1 to 3 Claimants 2 Mr Sanjay Agrawal Advocate for respondent No 4 3 None for respondent No 5 4 Mr Ajay Mishra Advocate for respondent No 6 CORAM: HONBLE SHRI RAJEEV GUPTA C J & HONBLE SHRI SUNIL KUMAR SINHA J Dated: 07/01/2010 : JUDGEMENT
Following order of the Court
was delivered by Sunil Kumar Sinha, J.
(1) Being aggrieved with the award dated 31.1.2004 passed
by the Fifth Additional Motor Accident Claims Tribunal
(F.T.C.), Surajpur, District Surguja (CG) in Claim Case No.
1/2002, the State has filed this appeal u/s 173 of the
Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
(2) The facts, briefly stated, are as under:-
The claimants/respondents 1 to 3 herein, filed a
Claim Petition u/s 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act
claiming compensation of Rs.9,59,752/- on account of
death of Nohar Pratap Singh, in the motor accident
which took place on 21.5.94 when the truck bearing
registration No. MPT 9552, in which, the deceased was
going with polling party for conducting election met
with an accident.
Respondents 1 to 3 are wife and minors children
of the deceased.
The owner filed his written statement taking the
plea that his vehicle was requisitioned by the State
Authority/Sub-Divisional Officer for election purpose,
therefore, the liability to pay compensation would be
on the State.
The driver remained ex-parte.
The appellant/State opposed the claim petition
and denied the factum of accident. It further denied
that deceased Nohar Pratap Singh, who was working as a
Patwari, was sent on election duty, therefore, he was
required to travel on the said vehicle.
Insurer also denied the claim made by the
The Claims Tribunal recorded the findings that
the deceased was on election duty and the accident
occurred while the polling party was being taken for
election by the said truck. The Tribunal on the basis
of Ex.-P/5 further held that the deceased was earning
Rs.2,278/- per month. After deducting 1/3rd from the
said income of the deceased, the dependency was worked
out to Rs.1,520/- per month and 18,240/- per annum.
The deceased was aged about 28 years. The Tribunal
applied multiplier of 18 to the said annual dependency
and the compensation was worked out to Rs.3,28,320/-.
By adding further sum of Rs.20,000/- under the other
heads, the total amount of compensation was worked out
to Rs.3,48,320/-. The Tribunal also awarded interest
at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of filing of
the Claim Petition till its realizations and directed
that the said amount would be payable by the
(3) Mr. Kishore Bhaduri, learned Additional Advocate
General appearing on behalf of the appellant/State, argued
that the Tribunal erred in fixing the liability on the
State. He also argued that high amount of compensation has
been awarded and the interest @ 9% per annum is also on the
(4) On the other hand, Mr. J.A. Lohani, learned counsel
appearing on behalf of the claimants/respondents 1 to 3,
opposed these arguments and supported the award passed by
the Claims Tribunal.
(5) Mr. Sanjay Agrawal, learned counsel appearing on
behalf of respondent No.4, supported the arguments advanced
by the counsel for the appellant.
(6) So far as liability to pay compensation is concerned,
we find that from the certificate issued by the S.D.O. (Ex.-
D/1), it was established that truck No. MPT 9552 was
requisitioned for election duty and the same met with an
accident on 21.5.94 at 9.00 p.m. The contents of Ex.-P/1
would further show that the deceased, who was working on
the post of Patwari PC No. 21, was on election duty as his
name has been mentioned in the said document as one of the
officers of the polling party, issued by concerned Election
Officer. The contents of Ex.-P/1 (order in Schedule ) by
Election Officer showing the deceased as a member of the
polling party as also Ex.-D/1 issued by S.D.O. regarding
the vehicle requisitioned by him have not been disputed.
Therefore, it was established that the deceased was a
member of polling party and the said vehicle was
requisitioned for the purpose of election. It further comes
in the evidence of Lakhmania Devi (AW-1, wife of the
deceased) and Laxman Ram (AW-2) that the accident occurred
on account of rash and negligent driving of the offending
truck by its driver and the deceased was traveling on the
said truck along with polling party which was going for
conducting election. Laxman Ram (AW-2), who was also
traveling on the said truck, has proved these facts.
Therefore, it was further established that the accident
occurred while the vehicle was taking the polling party of
which the deceased was also a member.
(7) In National Insurance Co. Ltd. -Vs- Deepa Devi and
Others, (2008) 1 SCC 414, the Apex Court held that “In a
situation when the vehicle was requisitioned by the
District Magistrate in exercise of the power conferred upon
him under the Representation of the People Act, the owner
does not exercise any control over the vehicle. The driver
may still be the employee of the owner of the vehicle but
he has to drive it as per the direction of the Officer of
the State, who is put in-charge thereof.” The Apex Court
said that “Save and except for legal ownership, for all
intent and purport, the registered owner of the vehicle
loses entire control thereover and if in such a situation
the statutory definition contained in the 1988 Act cannot
be given effect to in letter and spirit, the same should be
understood from the common sense point of view.” The Apex
Court held that in a case like that, “the State shall be
liable to pay amount of compensation to the claimants and
not the registered owner of the vehicle.” Therefore, in the
present case also, the Tribunal has rightly held that the
liability to pay compensation was on the State and not on
the registered owner or insurer of the said vehicle.
(8) So far as quantum of compensation is concerned, we do
not find any infirmity in the same. The Tribunal has
assessed the monthly income of the deceased as Rs.2,278/-
on the basis of contents of pay certificate (Ex.-P/5) which
has not been disputed by any party. The Tribunal has
deducted usual 1/3rd which also appears to be proper.
Admittedly the deceased was aged about 28 years and the
claimants, i.e. were wife and two minor children have been
shown to be aged about 24, 3 & 4 years. Therefore, the
multiplier of 18 applied by the Tribunal also appears to be
(9) So far as interest @ 9% per annum is concerned,
Section 171 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 provides, where
the claim for compensation made under the Act is allowed by
the Claims Tribunal, the Tribunal may direct that in
addition to the amount of compensation simple interest
shall also be paid at such rate from such date not earlier
than the date of making the claim. The provisions require
payment of interest in addition to compensation and a duty
is laid down on the Tribunal to consider the question of
interest separately with due regard to the facts and
circumstances of each case. The Supreme Court held in the
matter of National Insurance Co. Ltd. -Vs- Keshav Bahadur,
(2004) 2 SCC 370 that the provisions of payment of interest
is discretionary and is not and cannot be bound by rules.
No rate of interest is fixed u/s 171 of the Act and the
duty has been bestowed upon the Tribunal to determine such
rate of interest. The Supreme Court held that in order to
determine such rate, the prevailing rate of bank interest
at the relevant time has to be considered. In the facts and
circumstances of the present case, when accident took place
in the year 1994 and the award was passed in the year 2004,
we deem it appropriate to award the interest @ 6% per annum
which in our opinion would serve the interest of justice.
(10) The appeal filed by the appellant/State, therefore, is
allowed in part. The award passed by the Tribunal in
relation to liability and quantum of compensation is hereby
confirmed. However, it is directed that the claimants shall
be entitled to get interest @ 6% per annum from the date of
filing of the Claim Petition till the date of deposit of
the amount with the Claims Tribunal which has already been
deposited by the State. The amount to which the claimants
shall be entitled would be adjusted in the said amount.
(11) The appeal is allowed to the extent indicated above.
(12) There shall be no order as to costs.
CHIEF JUSTICE JUDGE