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Saroj & Ors v. Chhotu Ram & Ors - FAO-190-1989  RD-P&H 4599 (21 July 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
FAO No. 190 of 1989
Date of Decision : 28-7-2006
Smt. Saroj & others v. Chhotu Ram and others
CORAM:- HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE ARVIND KUMAR
Present: Mr. Navneet Gautam, Advocate,
for the appellant.
None for the respondent
In this appeal, challenge is to award dated 28.10.1988 passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Karnal, awarding a sum of Rs.77,000/- as compensation to the claimants(appellants herein) along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of claim petition till payment, on account of death of Jai Parkash in motor vehicle accident that took place on 15.12.1986.
In brief, the facts of the case are that on 15.12.1986, deceased, Jai Parkash, was coming on his scooter from Delhi and was heading towards Panipat. When he reached in front of Bansal Iron Factory, G.T. Road, Smalkha, a truck bearing registration No.PBV-4351 driven by respondent no.1, Chhotu Ram, came and hit his scooter from back side as a result of which Jai Parkash, deceased, received grievous injuries on his person. He was taken to Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, where he succumbed to his injuries on 23.12.1986. According to the claimants- appellants, the offending truck was being driven by respondent No.1, in a rash and negligent manner and had he driven the truck at a normal speed with due care and caution, the accident could have been averted. It was stated that deceased Jai Parkash was 29 years of age and was earning FAO No.190 of 1989 2
Rs.2000/- per month. Claimants, namely, deceased's widow, a minor son and parents, filed claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Karnal, for the grant of compensation on account of death of Jai Parkash.
Upon notice of the claim petition, respondents 1 and 2 put in appearance. In their joint written statement, they denied the factum of accident with their truck, contending that on 14.12.1986 at about 10 P.M.
respondent No.1 along with his truck was at Delhi border and thereafter, when he reached near Karnal, he saw a scooter lying on the road in a damaged condition. Respondent No.1 with the help of cleaner of the truck was about to move the scooter from the road when all of a sudden he was arrested by the police and implicated in the present case. As per respondents and 2, the scooterist might have met with an accident with some other vehicle and not with their truck. Respondent No.3, namely, New India Assurance Company, filed its separate written statement thereby controverting the pleas raised by the claimants in the claim petition.
On framing of issues by theTribunal, the parties led evidence in support thereof. On appreciation of evidence so adduced by the parties, the learned Tribunal passed the award in the manner indicated above.
Feeling dissatisfied with the same, the claimants- appellants have approached this Court by way of present appeal.
There is no cross-appeal by the respondents.
I have heard the learned counsel for the appellants.
Respondents have not put in appearance.
Learned counsel for the appellants has sought enhancement in compensation. The argument is that the deceased was engaged as an agriculturist and was running crusher/Khandsari business and the monthly income of Rs.600/- as assessed by the Tribunal is meager.
Evidence has been perused. PW-1 Saroj though has shown ignorance of the monthly income of the deceased who has stated that her husband used to give Rs.1500/- and sometimes Rs.2000/- for house-hold expenses. The occupation of her husband was of an agriculturist and running crusher/Khandsari. She does not speak of the occupation of dairy by her husband. Even PW-3 Jagdish, brother of the deceased, also does not speak of the matter. This falsifies the statement of PW-5 Bhim Singh who FAO No.190 of 1989 3
claims that the deceased Jai Parkash used to supply 30-50 litres of milk daily. PW-1 Saroj though has stated that the deceased used to cultivate land of Bhim Singh PW-5 but said Bhim Singh is absolutely silent if he owns any land which used to be cultivated by deceased Jai Parkash. No doubt, PW-1 Saroj and PW-3 Jagdish are categoric in saying that in fact deceased used to cultivate land of one Bhola Ram. PW-6 Bhola Ram has also endorsed that the deceased had taken 10-11 acres of land on lease from him giving yield of Rs.8/9000/- per acre per annum. The lease money was to be paid at the rate of Rs.2750/- per acre. There is no documentary evidence to prove the same. If the land was on lease, there has to be a lease- deed. PW-6 Bhola Ram if had been receiving lease money, then receipts would have been issued for the purpose of record. There must be some reflection in the revenue record of Bhola Ram having given the land on lease to Jai Parkash. As discussed above, no such document has been placed on record. Even PW-6 Bhola Ram has not produced any record showing that there was any agricultural land in his name. Khandsari business as per PW-3 Jagdish(brother of the deceased) was in partnership and the licence was in the name of their father Dhajja Ram. No partnership- deed has been placed on record to show as to what was the share of the deceased. Even Dhajja Ram, father of the deceased, in whose name licence of the partnership-firm was, has not been examined for the reasons best known to the claimants. There are no statement of accounts with regard to the earnings from the said Khandsari unit under the name and style of "Parkash Khandsari Atta". Form `J'(Mark P-2 and P-3) proved by PW-3 Jagdish of M/s Ram Sarup Subhash Singh who runs Purchase Centre at Dikadhla though may prove the sale of Khandsari but in no way depict the income of the said firm, what to say of the share of the deceased. Therefore, the income of the deceased is not adequately proved on record. Thus, the income of the deceased has to be assessed on hypothetical basis. However, keeping in view the fact that the deceased was doing multifarious activities and was an able-bodied person, the monthly of Rs.600/- so assessed by the Tribunal is certainly meager and as such, is assessed at Rs.900/-.
therefrom, i.e. Rs.300/-, the monthly dependency comes to Rs.600/-. The deceased was aged about 27/28 years at the time of his death and in my considered view, the multiplier of 16 applied by the Tribunal FAO No.190 of 1989 4
being adequate, needs no increase. Thus, the total compensation payable to the claimants comes to Rs.1,15,200/-(600x12x16).
After the accident, deceased Jai Parkash died on 23.12.1986.
PW-3 Jagdish has stated that Jai Parkash remained admitted in hospital for about eight days at Safdarjung hospital and a sum of Rs.10,000/- was spent on treatment. There is no evidence to prove the same. However, there is no rebuttal that he was not admitted in hospital. The said hospital though a government hospital, some amount is generally spent on treatment.
Expenses on last rites are also a natural consequence. Therefore, in my view, a consolidated sum of Rs.6800/- would be just and reasonable under this head. It is so ordered. In this way, the total amount compensation payable to the claimants would come to Rs.1,22,000/-, i.e. Rs.45,000/- over and above the amount awarded by the Tribunal. Out of the enhanced amount, Rs.30,000/- shall be paid to Saroj, widow, while the remaining amount of Rs.15,000/- shall be disbursed in equal share to the three other appellants, namely, minor son, father and mother of the deceased respectively.
Coming to the rate of interest, previously it used to be 12 per cent, however, in the recent years the bank rates have been considerably reduced and the rate of interest is being awarded at the rate of 7-1/2 per cent in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation Limited v. S.Rajapriya and others, (2005-2) P.L.R.
650. Therefore, in that back-drop of the situation, the remaining outstanding amount payable to the claimants shall carry interest at the flat rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of filing of the claim petition till its payment.
In view of the above, the impugned award stands modified in the manner indicated above. Appeal stands disposed of accordingly. No costs.
( ARVIND KUMAR )
July 28 , 2006 JUDGE
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