Decided on July 22,1997

Tikma Devi Respondents

Cited Judgements :-



M.SRINIVASAN,C.J. - (1.)THE insurance company is the appellant. The accident occurred on 25.11.1986. The deceased was travelling in the truck owned by the respondent No. 6 herein. The driver of the truck also died in the accident. The deceased was an employee of another person as a driver of another truck No. HIS 6017. The claimants are his widow and children. In the original petition it was alleged that the deceased travelled in the truck, which got involved in the accident, on a request made by the driver of the truck in order to find labourers for the said truck to load cargo of apple boxes in the said truck. It was alleged that on account of rash and negligent driving of the truck, the vehicle got involved in the accident resulting in the death of the driver of the said truck as well as the deceased. A claim was made for a sum of Rs. 5,00,000/ (five lakh) by way of compensation.
(2.)THE appellant as well as the owner of the vehicle contested the proceedings. In the reply filed by the appellant, one of the objections raised was that the vehicle was insured only with respect to specific persons, namely, driver, cleaner and four labourers travelling in the truck as it was goods vehicle and that the deceased was an unauthorised and gratuitous passenger. It was stated that the appellant was not, therefore, liable to make good the liability even if the owner is held to be liable. Other pleas were also raised by the appellant to the effect that the application was barred by limitation and that the amount claimed by way of compensation was highly excessive.
The Tribunal held that the accident occurred on account of rash and negligent driving of the driver of the truck owned by the respondent No. 6 herein and awarded a total compensation of Rs. 2,13,000/ in favour of the claimants. Issue No. 4 was "whether the deceased was a gratuitous passenger in the truck in question and if so its effect". Issue No. 5 was whether the vehicle in question was being driven in violation of the Motor Vehicles Rules? The Tribunal held that there was no evidence to show that the deceased was travelling as a gratuitous passenger in the truck in question and that the vehicle was being driven in contravention of the Motor Vehicles Act or the Rules. Accordingly, the Tribunal held that the appellant was liable for the entire amount awarded as compensation.

(3.)IN this appeal, it is contended by the appellant that when the insurance policy is expressly limited to certain persons named therein who alone could travel in the truck which was a goods vehicle, the appellant cannot be made liable for the death of any other person who happened to be in the vehicle at the time of accident. Our attention is drawn to the terms of the policies marked Exh. R2 and Exh. R3. It is also contended that the evidence on record is not sufficient to show that the deceased travelled in the vehicle on a request made by the driver of the vehicle for the purpose of securing labourers for the said vehicle to load apple boxes in the vehicle.

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