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Chattisgarh High Court
State Of Chhattisgarh vs 6 The Oriental Insurance on 7 January, 2010
       

  

  

 
 
            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  

ORDER

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
claimants.

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
appellant/State.

(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

higher side.

(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 [1]) 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

proper.

(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


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