GURMIT KAUR Vs. PRATAP SINGH
LAWS(MPH)-1980-1-23
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
Decided on January 03,1980

Gurmit Kaur and Others Appellant
VERSUS
Pratap Singh and Another Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

LAURIE V. REGION BUILDING CO [REFERRED TO]
GOBALD MOTOR SERVICE LTD. V. R.M.K. VELUSWAMI [REFERRED TO]
MINU B MEHTA VS. BALKRISHNA RAMCHANDRA NAYAN [REFERRED TO]
PUSHPABAI PURSHOTTAM UDESHI VS. RANJIT GINNING AND PRESSING CO PRIVATE LIMITED [REFERRED TO]
GANGARAM VS. KAMALABAI [REFERRED TO]
KAMLA DEVI VS. KISHANCHAND [REFERRED TO]
CHAURASIA AND CO VS. PRAMILA RAO [REFERRED TO]
MANOHARLAL GUPTA VS. MADHYA PRADESH ELECTRICITY BOARD [REFERRED TO]
NARAYANLAL VS. RUKHMANIBAI [REFERRED TO]
RAMESH KUMAR VS. GADARAI [REFERRED TO]
SOUTH INDIA INSURANCE CO. LTD. VS. HEERABAI AND ORS. [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

M.D. Bhatt, J. - (1.)THIS is the appeal of the legal representatives of the deceased Harbhajan Singh against the dismissal of their claim under Section 110 -A of the Motor Vehicles Act in the matter of death of Harbhajan Singh in the truck accident.
(2.)FACTS , not in dispute, are briefly these. Respondent No. 1 and Respondent No. 2 were respectively the owner and the insurer of the truck No. MPK 3313 which had met with the accident. In the said accident, apart from Harbhajan Singh, whose legal representatives have laid the claim of compensation, the driver and the conductor of the truck had also died. The truck was carrying a tractor of the deceased's brother. It was loaded at Raipur and was bound for Delhi. Besides the driver and the conductor, the deceased as the representative of owner of the tractor had also travelled in the truck. The truck had reached Garaghat, District Balaghat, on 9.6.70 by 9 p.m. The bridge of the river Bainganga was submerged since the river was in flood. The truck did not cross the bridge during the night and stopped aside. Next day morning, the driver of the truck tried to cross the bridge. In the middle of the bridge, the truck turned turtle and fell in the river. Consequently, the driver and the conductor and so also Harbhajan Singh died. Appellant No. 1 is the widow of the deceased Harbhajan Singh and Appellant Nos. 2 and 3 are the male minor children of the deceased. The Appellant No. 3 is his posthumous child.
According to the Appellants -Petitioners, the truck driver, despite the protests of Harbhajan Singh, had persisted in crossing the bridge on the relevant morning, although the bridge was two feet under water. The truck was driven at a high speed. The brakes failed; and the truck slipped in the river, resulting in the accident. The Appellants -Petitioners claimed Rs. 1,50,000/ - as compensation against the Respondents as per particulars detailed in paragraph 7 of the claim petition, on the basis of the deceased's salary at Rs. 401/ - p.m. as an auditor of the Punjab Electricity Board, age of superannuation, his expected longevity of life etc.

(3.)BOTH the Respondents non -Petitioners disputed the Petitioners' claim before the Claims Tribunal. It was primarily contended that Harbhajan Singh (now deceased) was a gratuitous passenger, inasmuch as, the truck was meant only to carry goods; and the driver of the truck had been specially prohibited not to carry any passengers whatsoever, in the truck. Accordingly, the vicarious liability of the truck owner was denied. The truck driver, according to the Respondents, had tried to cross the bridge when the water on the bridge had receded. When the truck was in middle of the bridge, the front tyre of the truck incidentally got burst, with the result that the truck turned turtle and fell down in the river, a circumstance beyond the control of the truck driver. Hence it was a vis major. Harbhajan Singh (now deceased) being an unauthorised occupant of the truck was not covered under the terms of the policy; and as such, the Respondent No. 2, insurance company was not liable for compensation to any extent.


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