Decided on August 12,1997

Managing Director, Himachal Appellant
Amra Devi Respondents


ARUN KUMAR GOEL, J. - (1.)THIS appeal is filed by the Managing Director, Himachal Pradesh State Forest Corporation (here-in-after referred to as 'the Corporation') against the award passed by Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (1), Solan and Sirmaur Districts at Solan dated 25.4.1989, whereby the respondent No. 3 (hereinafter called 'the insurance company') has been exonerated for payment of compensation awarded in the favour of Amra Devi and Shashi Pal Nadda (hereinafter referred to as 'the claimants'). While passing the impugned award, Corporation has been directed for the payment of compensation awarded in terms of the award. It has been held that Corporation is liable for payment of compensation for the act of its employee Joyti Parshad (hereinafter referred to as 'the driver').
(2.)FACTS of this case need briefly to be referred to for properly understanding the present case as well as for appreciating the submissions made on behalf of the parties. Deceased Sant Ram Nadda was working as Deputy Ranger in the Himachal Pradesh Government Forest Department. On the fateful day, i.e., 18.2.87, Sant Ram deceased was working with the Corporation. On this day when Joyti Parshad who was authorised driver of the vehicle bearing registration No. HIS 9003 engaged by the Corporation was carrying the timber from forest Kansar to Mantaruwala, deceased was also travelling in the truck. Claimants case is that deceased Sant Ram was travelling while on duty, insurance company has admitted this fact in para 10 of the reply filed by it, Corporation as well as driver while admitting the factum of the deceased being there on the truck, did not admit that he was on duty when he boarded the truck. However, when the truck had reached near Giri Nagar at about 5.30 p.m. it met with an accident after having gone out of the road and consequently having fallen into the khud. As a result of this accident, deceased received multiple injuries and died on the spot. Claimants Amra Devi is the widow whereas Shashi Pal Nadda is the son of deceased Sant Ram. According to claimants, accident took place due to rash and negligent driving on the part of the driver and thus compensation in the sum of Rs. 5,00,000/- was claimed by both of them. Corporation in its reply admitted that the vehicle in question was owned by it and Joyti Parshad was its authorised driver who was driving the vehicle at the time of accident on 18.2.1987 when Sant Ram died due to injuries sustained by him in the said accident. While further admitting the accident it was denied by the Corporation that the accident was due to rash and negligent driving on the part of the driver. Accident was further stated to be the result of danga (retaining wall) giving way and consequently the truck falling into the khud. As such accident was attributed to have taken place as an act of God. Relationship of both the claimants with the deceased was admitted.
In the aforesaid background parties went to trial on the following issues:

(1) Whether the deceased suffered fatal injuries on account of rash and negligent driving on the part of the respondent No. 2?OPP (2) Whether the alleged mishap took place on account of act of God? OPR (3) Whether the insurance company is not liable to indemnify the award as alleged? OPR (4) Relief.
Issue No. 1 was held in the affirmative, under issue No. 2 findings were recorded in the negative and while exonerating the insurance company under issue No. 3, compensation in the sum of Rs. 1,26,240 was granted to the claimants to be paid by the Corporation with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of the petition, i.e., from 14.8.87 till the time of deposit of the amount by the Corporation.
(3.)ANOTHER fact which may be noticed here regarding which parties are not at variance is that admittedly the truck in question was insured with the insurance company by means of a valid insurance policy which was in force on the date of accident.

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