K. SUMATIBAI AND ANR. Vs. D. SAROJINI AND ORS.
LAWS(MAD)-1970-4-18
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
Decided on April 24,1970

K. Sumatibai Appellant
VERSUS
D. Sarojini Respondents

JUDGEMENT

Maharajan, J. - (1.) THIS appeal and the Memorandum of Cross objections coming on for hearing on this day the court delivered the following Judgment.
(2.) THIS is an appeal against the judgment of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Madras, awarding, as against the owner of a baby taxi and its insurer and in favour of the legal representatives of one Kuppammal, a sum of Rs. 6,100/ - by way of compensation in pursuance of an application under Section 110A of Motor Vehicles Act. The case of the legal representatives in the court below was that as a result of the rash and negligent driving of the baby taxi MSW 4095 at about 7 -30 p.m. on 23 -5 -1966, Kuppammal was knocked down by the taxi and he sustained injuries, which resulted in her death the next day. The accident took place as Kuppammal was crossing the Poonamallee High Road, which is sixty -one feet broad. She had come to a point twenty -eight feet nine inches to the South of the Northern kerb of the road when the taxi MSW 4095 which was going in a an Easterly direction knocked her down and dragged her for a distance of forty two feet four inches from the place of impact. According to P.W.I, (Chandran, the driver) the accident was not the result of any negligence or rashness on his part. He would say he was driving the baby taxi at a slow speed of 10 miles per hour and that Kuppammal, who crossed from his left to right, suddenly recrossed the road from his right to left after sighting another transport bus. Exhibit P.3, the statement given by Kuppammal to the Police soon after the accident contradicts the story of the driver of the taxi. The evidence of P.W.5 Shanmugham, who is an eye witness to the occurrence would also give the lie direct to the evidence of the driver. According to P.W.5, the baby taxi was coming from the Egmore side at a great speed and dashed against the lady, who was caught in the bumper of the baby taxi and dragged over a distance of forty feet. P.W.5 is definite that Kuppammal did not retrace her steps while crossing the road. He would also say that the driver of the baby taxi did not sound his horn before the accident, and that there was not much traffic on the road at the time of the accident. It may be noted that the accident took place at about 7 or 7 -15 p.m. in the night, and there was sufficient light at the scene of the accident, because the Poonamallee High Road is illuminated by a number of electric street lights. There is nothing to show that the view of the driver of the baby taxi was blocked by any object in between the pedestrian and the moving taxi. The width of the Poonamallee High Road is, as I have already stated, sixty -one feet; and in the absence of other traffic at the scene of the accident, it should have been possible for the driver of the taxi to swerve round the pedestrian and avoid the accident. If he failed to avoid the accident, it must have been because he was driving at a speed at which he lost control over the vehicle. In fact, the established circumstance that after the impact, the woman's body was being dragged along the road over a distance of 42 feet, indicates the rashness and dangerous speed with which the baby taxi was being driven. The postmortem certificate reveals that over 15 of the ribs of Kuppammal were fractured as a result of the impact in addition to a number of other bones, There were abrasions all over the body and there was fracture of the left cranial fossa of the base of the skull. It is also found from the evidence on record that there was 50 per cent efficiency of the brakes, and that the accident was not the result of any mechanical inefficiency of the vehicle. In these circumstances, I agree with the Tribunal and hold that Kuppammal sustained the fatal injury as a result of the rashness and negligence of the driver of the baby taxi.
(3.) THE next question arises as to what would be the quantum of compensation awardable to the legal representatives, of the deceased Kuppammal. It is contended on behalf of the Respondents that the deceased was only 52 years old, as per Ex. P.6, a certified copy of the relevant extract from the Birth Register. The Birth Register itself does not indicate the name of the child that was born. Admittedly Kuppammal had an elder sister and a younger sister. The Birth Register shows that some female child was born on a particular date. No evidence has been adduced to connect Kuppammal with the entries in Ex. P.6. In these circumstances, the Tribunal was justified in rejecting Ex. P.6 and ascertaining the age of Kuppammal from her own statement in Ex. P. 3, which is to the effect that she was 60 years old at the time of death. The court below has assumed that but for the accident she might have lived for at least ten years more. But in computing the compensation lower court has assumed that she would have worked and earned for at least 5 years. The evidence of P.W.4, the daughter of Kuppammal, is that Kuppammal used to vend edibles in the streets and earn a net income of at least Rs. 5/ - per day. I think her evidence, which is not coroborated by any accounts, is exaggerated. A street vendor of edibles is not likely to earn much more than what is necessary to keep her body and soul together. In the absence of any positive evidence on the side of the Appellants, I am prepared to assume that Kuppammal was able to save at least one rupee per day; in which case, she would have saved during the next 5 years about Rs. 1,800/ -. Apart from what she would have saved, there is also the question of compensating her estate for the loss of the prospect of a predominantly happy life. But for the accident, she was likely to have lived for 10 years, therefore it would be right to value the prospects of a predominantly happy life for ten years at Rs. 2,000/ -. Another amount must be added on by way of compensation for the mental pain and physical sufferings of Kuppammal, as a result of the multiple and gruesome injuries inflicted upon her during the accident. I would fix the same at Rs. 1,000/ -. Learned Counsel for the Appellant says that she died within 17 hours after the accident and that during this period she was unconsicous and therefore no compensation need be awarded in that behalf. But the evidence shows that after the accident she was conscious and was able to give a statement to the Police as per Ex. P 3. I would therefore hold that a sum of Rs. 1,000/ - must be awarded on this account. The total compensation would then come to Rs. 4,800/ - As the amount of Rs. 1,800/ - on the first count is being paid in a lump -sum some deduction has to be made by way of counter -interest, Taking into account all these considerations I think it right to fix the total lumpsum compensation at Rs. 4, 500/ -. The Appeal against order No. 166 of 1968 of the owner is consequently allowed in part and the memorandum of cross objections dismissed.;


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