GHISALAL DURGA DUTTA Vs. BINA DAS AND OTHERS
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
GHISALAL DURGA DUTTA
BINA DAS AND OTHERS
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T.N. Singh, J. -
(1.)On 21.11.1977 Motilal Das was travelling in a bus when at a place near Raha, at about 7.30 p.m , the bus dashed against a stationary truck. The impact was so big that the bus capsized. Though some of the other passengers received minor injuries, Motilal was severely injured and was therefore taken to Nowgong Civil Hospital, where he was declared dead. He left behind his wife and three minor daughters. An application under section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, for short the Act or Motor Vehicle Act, was filed by the widow claiming compensation for herself and for her three minor daughters on account of death of her husband in the said motor accident. In the application the registered owner of the bus, the insurer, as well as the financier under the Hire Purchase Agreement which the registered owner had entered with it, were impleaded as opposite parties. After the matter was heard by the learned Member, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Nowgong, for short the Tribunal, an award was passed by him allowing the claim in part. In terms of the award the insurer (Opp. party No. 5) has to pay Rs. 5,000.00 and the balance of Rs. 25,000.00 has to be paid jointly and severally by the registered owner (Opp. Party No. 1) and the financier (Opp. party No. 3). Being aggrieved by the award the financier has come up before us in this appeal. The claimant is also aggrieved by the quantum of compensation and has filed a cross-objection. Both these matters were heard together and are being disposed of by this common judgment.
(2.)In the course of hearing written statements were filed before the Tribunal by the opposite parties. The occurrence is not denied. The registered owner claimed that the accident did not take place as a result of rash and negligent driving of her vehicle. The financier's objection was that he could not be saddled with any liability in respect of the claim arising out of the accident as he was in no way connected with the ownership or possession of the said vehicle. The insurer took up a number of defences and asserted that the claim was excessive and in any event its liability was limited to Rs. 5,000.00 only.
(3.)The learned Tribunal struck 4 issues for trial. As many as 8 witnesses were examined by the claimant besides herself (as PW 9) in support of her claim Learned Tribunal on a discussion of the evidence came to the finding that the accident occurred due to rash and negligent driving of the bus. Indeed, this finding is not challenged before us by any party. What the appellant, the financier, challenges in the appeal is that the award passed against it was illegal inasmuch as it had no liability either jointly with Opp. Party No. 1, or independently, in respect of the claim arising out of the accident. What the claimants, the cross-objectors, challenge is that the determination of compensation payable to the dependants was erroneous both on facts and law. Therefore, the same ought to be set aside and on a reappraisal of evidence and by applying appropriate principles of law the compensation ought to be determined and accordingly enhanced. On behalf of the insurer-respondent it is contended that the limit of their liability was rightly determined by the learned Tribunal and whether or not the compensation is enhanced it cannot be saddled with any further liability. We proceed accordingly to discuss and decide each of the three points agitated before us by the learned counsel appearing for the parties. Quantum of Damages
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