Decided on May 21,1997

PADMA DEVI Respondents

Cited Judgements :-



M.SRINIVASAN,C.J. - (1.)THIS appeal is directed against the award passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Solan. The accident took place on 16.6.1986 at about 4 p.m. near village Dharja on Solan Rahgarh road. The husband of the first claimant by name, Joginder Singh, was travelling in a bus bearing registration No. HPA 1289 belonging to Himachal Road Transport Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'the appellant'). According to the claimants, the bus was driven in a rash and negligent manner and the driver failed to negotiate a curve properly with the result the vehicle rolled down a ditch some 100 metres below the road. Consequently, injuries were sustained by several persons travelling in the vehicle and Joginder Singh succumbed to the said injuries on the spot. He was employed as leprosy worker in ayurvedic dispensary, Dhamla, Tehsil Rajgarh, District Sirmaur and was drawing a salary of Rs. 1,743/ p.m. He was aged about 36 years and he had good chances of rising up in his life. Thus the claimants have put forward a claim for compensation for a sum of Rs. 4,00,000/ in the original petition. The contention of the appellant was that there was no rashness and negligence on the part of the driver and the appellant will not be liable for the death of Joginder Singh.
(2.)THE Tribunal has on the facts found that the accident was caused by the rash and negligent driving of the bus by the respondent No. 3 before it who was the driver. Though this finding is attacked by the appellant, we do not find any justification whatever to interfere with the said finding. It is based on the evidence on record and there is ample material on record to come to a conclusion that the bus was driven in a rash and negligent manner. Hence, that finding is affirmed.
The Tribunal held that the appellant was liable to pay a sum of Rs. 2,44,800/ by way of compensation to the claimants with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of institution of the petition till the realisation thereof. In the said amount, a sum of Rs. 57,800/ was awarded to the widow of the deceased, who was the petitioner No. 1 before the Tribunal. A sum of Rs. 50,000/ was to be invested in National Saving Certificates (7th issue) and remaining amount to be released to her unconditionally. Claimant Nos. 6 and 7 before the Tribunal were the parents of the deceased Joginder Singh and they were awarded Rs. 15,000/ each by the Tribunal. The said amount was also directed to be invested in National Saving Certificates (7th issue). Claimant Nos. 2 to 5 were the children of the deceased being sons and daughters. In so far as the sons are concerned, the Tribunal directed payment of Rs. 35,000/ to each of the sons and Rs. 45,000/ to each of the daughters. However, as all of them were minors, the Tribunal had directed investment of the amount in National Saving Certificates (6th issue) and also directed reinvestment periodically.

(3.)THE appellant vehemently attacks the method adopted by the learned Tribunal in arriving at the amount of compensation of Rs. 2,44,800/ . According to the appellant, the multiplier chosen by the Tribunal is not based on any principle. At any rate, it is against the certain principles settled by the Supreme Court of India in several judgments. It is also the contention of the appellant that the multiplicand taken by the Tribunal into account is also wrong and it should not have taken into account Rs. 1,200/ as multiplicand. It is seen from the evidence that the deceased was earning Rs. 1,743/ p.m. as salary. The claimant No. 1 has deposed as PW 1. She has stated that the deceased used to spend only Rs. 500/ to Rs. 600/ p.m. for his personal requirements and the remaining amount was being paid for household expenses. It was also in her evidence that the deceased had rented out a house in a place of working and the family was occupying the said house. Thus the evidence of PW 1 makes it clear that the deceased was giving at least a sum of Rs. 1,200/ p.m. for household expenses. In the strata of life to which the claimants and the deceased belong there can be no difficulty in accepting the evidence of PW 1 as true. It can be easily appreciated that the people belonging to that strata of life will normally spend less on themselves individually and more on their families. There is nothing on record to show that the deceased was frittering away or wasting the income or leading a reckless life without caring for his family. In such a situation, there is no warrant to differ from the Tribunal and hold that the Tribunal was in error in accepting the version of PW 1 and taking Rs. 1,200/ as multiplicand. We affirm the finding of the Tribunal in that regard and hold that the deceased was giving at least Rs. 1,200/ p.m. for the household expenses and that amount happened to be loss of dependency of the claimants.

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