PALANPUR MUNICIPALITY AND ANOTHER Vs. GUJARAT STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION AND OTHERS
LAWS(GJH)-1988-7-19
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
Decided on July 15,1988

Palanpur Municipality and Another Appellant
VERSUS
Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation and others Respondents




JUDGEMENT

P.M.CHAUHAN,J. - (1.)First Appeal No. 92 of 1979 arises out of the award in Motor Accident Claim Petition No.95 of 1977, by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Mehsana, awarding the compensation of the amount of Rs. 1,21,000/- to the respondents No. 4 to 10, heirs and legal representatives of deceased Pravinkumar Kanaiyalal Pathak, the Chief Officer of the appellant - Palanpur Municipality and First Appeal No. 93 of 1979 arises out of the award in Motor Accident Claim Petition No. 132 of 1977 by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Mehsana awarding the compensation of the amount of Rs. 6,500/- to the respondent No. 4.
(2.)Deceased Pravinkumar Pathak was the Chief Officer of the appellant-Palanpur Municipality and injured Dharmabhai was the Gardener of the Municipality. Both of them were proceeding in the jeep of the Palanpur Municipality, which was being driven by appellant-Ismailbhai Janmohmed. When the jeep reached nearby Maktupur village between Unjha and Sidhpur, the bus belonging to the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation being driven by respondent No.-2-Shambhubhai proceeded from Unjha and the accident occurred in which Pravinkumar Pathak was caused injuries and succumbed to the injuries and Dharamabhai was caused fractures and other injuries. The contention of the appellant-Palanpur Municipality was that the driver of the bus was driving the bus rashly and negligently, while the contention of the respondent-Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation and the driver-Shambhubhai was that the driver of the jeep-Ismailbhai was rash and negligent in driving and the accident occurred because of his rash and negligent driving. The Tribunal, after considering the evidence on record, held that Ismailbhai the driver of the jeep was rash and negligent and the accident occurred only because of his such driving and, accordingly, awarded the compensation of the amount of Rs. 1,21,000/- to the heirs and legal representatives of Pravinkumar Pathak and Rs. 6,500/- to Dharmabhai. The New India Assurance Company Limited, which was also a party was held responsible to indemnify the insured to the extent of Rs. 50,000/-for both the awards under Section 95 (2) (i) (b) of the Motor Vehicles Act. Being aggrieved by the award, the appellants have preferred the appeal, but at the hearing of the appeals, the learned advocate for the appellants has not challenged the amount of compensation awarded or that the driver of the jeep was not rash and negligent, but the only contentions are that the driver of the bus was equally rash and negligent and, therefore the Tribunal should have held the driver of the bus guilty of the contributory negligence to the extent of 50 per cent. The other contention is that the Tribunal erred in limiting the liability for the compensation of the Insurance Company to the extent of Rs. 50,000/- only for both the victims of the accident and should have considered the liability to to the extent of Rs. 50,000/- for the compensation to the heirs and legal representatives of Pravinkumar Pathak and Rs. 6,500/- for the compensation to Shri Dharmabhai.
(3.)The Tribunal referring to the contents of the insurance policy, held that the Insurance Company is liable to indemnify the insured under sub-clause (i) of clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 95 of the Motor Vehicles Act and directed the Insurance Company to indemnify the insured to the extent of Rs. 50,000/- for both the accidents. The overall liability of the Insurance Company is, therefore, fixed only at Rs. 50,000/-. The observation of the Tribunal that referring to the contents of the insurance policy, the Insurance Company is liable to indemnify the insured under the provisions of Section 92(2)(b)(i) is not challenged and, therefore, it should be considered that the Insurance Company under the policy is liable to indemnify the insured under the said provisions. The only question for our consideration is, therefore, only to the extent as to whether the overall liability of the Insurance Company is to the extent of Rs. 50,000/- or to the extent of Rs. 56,500/-. The learned advocate for the appellants referred Motor Owners Insurance Company Ltd. v. Jadavji Keshavji Modi and Others, A.I.R. 1981 SC 2059 (=1981 GLH 361) and submitted that the phrase "any one accident" should be considered as two accidents for the purpose of the liability of the Insurance Company and, therefore, the Insurance Company should be held responsible for the amount of Rs. 56,500/- It is true that Their Lordships of the Supreme Court were considering the provisions of Section 95(2)(a) of the Motor Vehicles Act and not the provisions of Section 95(2)(b)(i) of the Motor Vehicles Act. However, the expressions "any one accident'' and "in all" were for the consideration of Their Lordships Sub-section (2) of Section 95 provides that subject to the proviso to sub-section (1), a policy of insurance shall cover any liability incurred in respect of any one accident upto the limits specified in clauses (a) and (b). The expression "any one accident", therefore covers cases covered under the provisions of clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 95. While considering the expression "any one accident", Their Lordships observed in paragraph 16, "what is the meaning of the expression "any one accident"? If that expression were plain and unambiguous, and its meaning clear and definite, effect would be required to be given to it regardless of what we think of its wisdom or policy. But as we will presently show, the expression "any one accident" does not disclose one meaning conclusively according to the laws of language. It clearly, is capable of more than one meaning, introducing thereby an ambiguity which has to be resolved by resorting to the well-settled principles of statutory construction." It is also observed the expression "any one accident" in paragraph 17 that "a consideration of preponderating importance in a matter of this nature is not whether there was any one transaction which resulted in injuries to many but whether more than one person was injured, giving rise to more than one claim or cause of action, even if the injuries were caused in the course of one single transaction. If more than one person is injured during the course of the same transaction, each one of the persons have met with an accident". Their Lordships held that "in all" liability shall be the liability for each victim of the accident. It is, therefore, clear that the Insurance Company is liable to indemnify the insured for the compensation awarded to the claimants of both the claim petitions. To that extent the award by the Tribunal is required to be modified.
Case Referred

Appeals allowed.

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