High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Santosh Kaur & Anr v. Jagir Singh & Ors - FAO-555-1995  RD-P&H 4678 (24 July 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995
Date of Decision: August 2, 2006
Santosh Kaur and another
Jagir Singh and others
CORAM: HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE M.M.S. BEDI.
Present:- Mr. K.S. Dadwal, Advocate,
for the petitioners.
Mr.Chanchal K. Singla, Advocate for
Mr. Rajan Gupta, Advocate
for respondent No.1.
Mr. Balram Singh, Advocate
M.M.S. BEDI, J.
Challenging the finding of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, dated November 21, 1994 on issue No.1, this appeal has been filed for the grant of compensation to the claimant- appellants, who are the heirs i.e. wife and son of Hardev Singh, deceased, who was killed in an accident while going on his bicycle to his home on August 27, 1993. It is averred in the F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
claim petition that when the deceased reached the area of village Pandori Kad at about 6.45 p.m., a Bus No. PUP-2791, driven by Jagir Singh rashly and negligently came from Rahana Jattan, Rajpur Bhaian Link Road and ran over the deceased, while going on the wrong side of the road. Hardev Singh died in the accident on the spot. The occurrence was witnessed by Sewa Singh of village Mukhliana and Kulwinder Singh of Village Bhungerni. The driver had sped away the Bus from the spot. An FIR No.
83 dated August 27, 1993 was registered in the Police Station Mehtiana.
Respondent No.1 was arrested and challaned by the police. The deceased was allegedly contributing Rs.1800/- per month for the maintenance of the claimants, as such a claim of Rs.4 lacs was raised by way of claim petition.
Respondents No.1 to 3 contested the claim petition by filing a written statement alleging that Bus No. PUP-2791 had not hit any person, as alleged and prayed for dismissal of the claim petition. The said Bus had not been involved in the accident. On the pleadings of the parties, following issues were framed:-
1. Whether Hardev Singh had died in an accident on 27.8.1993 in the area of village Pandori Kad on account of rash and negligent driving of Bus NO. PUP 2791 driven by Jagir Singh, respondent No.1? OPA.
2. Whether the applicants are legal heirs of the deceased? OPA.
3. To what amount as compensation the applicants entitled and from whom? OPA.
F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
4. Relief. Issue No.1 was decided against the claimants holding that the statements of PWs regarding the accident cannot be relied upon. Issue No.2 was decided in favour of the claimants. Issue No.3 was decided to the effect that claimants were entitled to the compensation of Rs.2 lacs but on the basis of the finding on issue No.1, no relief was awarded to the claimant- appellants.
Learned counsel for the appellants- Mr.K.S. Dadwal has vehemently argued that the Claims tribunal has acted illegally in not taking into consideration Ex.A5, wherein it was specifically mentioned that Bus No. PUP 2791 was involved in the accident. He referred to the statement of AW4 Manjit Singh and AW3 Sewa Singh, who had given a true version regarding the manner in which the accident had taken place. He argued that respondent No.1 while appearing as RW1 had admitted that he was arrested by the police in the criminal case and that he had not lodged any complaint with the higher officials regarding his false implication. It was vehemently urged that lodging of the FIR is not necessary for claimants' compensation.
Finding of the claims Tribunal on issue No.1 was thus vehemently challenged.
I have heard the learned counsel for the appellants and gone through the findings of the claims tribunal on issue Nos. 1 and 3. The claims Tribunal, while deciding issue No.1 held that the accident had not taken place on account of rash and negligence driving of Jagir Singh while driving Bus No. PUP 2791. Disbelieving the statements of Sewa Singh and F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
Manjit Singh, the following factors weighed with the claims Tribunal while deciding issue No.1 in favour of the respondents and against the claimant- appellants:-
i) The person who lodged the FIR Ex.R.1 is Thakur Dass, Sarpanch, has not been examined.
ii) There is no mention of the name of Sewa Singh who belongs to the same village of Thakur Dass.
iii) Name of Manjit Singh, who has been examined as independent witness is not named as a witness in the FIR, rather name of one Kulwinder Singh is mentioned as an eye witness.
iv) Kulwinder Singh whose name was mentioned as eye witness has not been examined to prove the accident; whereas PW Sewa Singh has also stated that Kulwinder Singh, Driver of mini Bus had seen the accident.
v) Sewa Singh and Manjit Singh had not lodged the FIR on seeing the accident is an unnatural conduct, thus making them unbelievable.
vi) The arrest of respondent No.1 after 30 days leaves a doubt regarding his involvement.
vii) The application Ex.A3 by the departmental Inspector for release of the Bus on supardari and authority letter A.4 in which there is a specific mention regarding the F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
involvement of the Bus in the accident is not proof of the involvement of the Bus in the accident.
I have heard the learned counsel for the appellants and gone through the evidence of the eye witness. The specific averment regarding the manner in which the accident had taken place, as per the claim petition, is that the deceased was going to his home on his bicycle when Bus No.
PUP 2791 of Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, Ludhiana, driven rashly and negligently by respondent No.1 came at a high speed from behind and ran over the deceased and his cycle, while going on the wrong side of the road. The occurrence was witnessed by Sewa Singh of Village Mukhliana and Kulwinder Singh of Village Bhungerni and others. In order to substantiate the plea in the claim petition, the FIR has been produced on the record which has been got lodged by Thakur Dass. AW3 Sewa Singh has been examined by the claimants as an eye-witness who corroborated the version given in the claim petition and stated that he had seen Hardev Singh going on a Cycle towards his village when Bus No. PUP 2791 of Pepsu Road Transport Corporation came from behind at a fast speed and hit the deceased from the back, killing Hardev Singh. He had noted down the Bus number but the Driver of the bus ran away. He stated that Manjit Singh had also seen the accident and one Kulwinder Singh, Driver of mini Bus who was coming from opposite direction had also seen the accident which had taken place on account of rash and negligent driving of Jagir Singh. He stated that the appellant has registered a case against Jagir Singh and that he had also been examined by the police. It was suggested to the said witness F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
that the respondent Driver had been falsely implicated in the case, neither any enmity was suggested nor any other ill-will was put to the witness to bring the case within the ambit of suspicion or false implication. AW4 Manjit Singh is also an eye- witness who had stated that bus No. PUP 2791 driven by Jagir Singh had hit Hardev Singh deceased from the back while he was going on his cycle, as a result of which he fell and received injuries.
He stated that bus Driver had not stopped his bus and the accident had been witnessed by a Driver of mini Bus and one Sewa Singh. He had asked the mini Bus Driver to follow the Bus but the mini Bus Driver had not accepted the requests, therefore, he and Sewa Singh ran after the bus at Rajpur where the Bus was standing but the driver of the bus was not there. He clarified in his cross-examination that Hardev Singh was not known to him but was known to Sewa Singh AW3. He stated that on next date, he had informed about the accident to Police Station Mehtiana but his statement was not recorded. To rebut the statements of AW3 Sewa Singh and AW4 Manjit Singh, Jagir Singh- respondent No.1 had appeared and stated that on August 27, 1993, he was on duty on that very route and in the morning had taken bus No. PUP 2791 from Rajpur Bhaya to Phagwara and on the same evening he came from Phagwara, on that day at about 5.40 p.m. and when he reached the village Rajpur Bhaya no accident had taken place with his Bus. But in his cross- examination he was stated that he was arrested by the police in accident case and that he had not given any application to the higher authorities regarding his false implication. RW2 Kulwinder Singh, who is the Conductor of the bus stated that no accident had taken place, but F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
his testimony is not worthy of credence as he is Conductor of the same bus and is an interested witness. RW3-Daljinder Singh, Senior Assistant of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, Ludhiana, deposed regarding Bus No.PUP 2791 to have plied on the route from Phagwara to Rajpur Bhaya.
He has stated that police has detained the bus on the allegation of accident on August 27, 1993. Ex.A3 is an application submitted by Gurmail Singh, Inspector, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, Ludhiana dated September 30, 1993, seeking the supardari of the bus wherein it is mentioned that Bus No. PUB 2791 had come across an accident and the same had been impounded by the police. Similarly, authority letter in favour of Gurkirpal Singh, General manager, produced on the record signed by General Manager records that Bus PUP 2791 was involved in the accident. It is an authority letter issued by General manager, in favour of Gurmail Ram, to produce the Bus as and when required. The claims Tribunal has rejected the testimony of eye witness on the ground that the FIR has been lodged by Thakur Singh, who has not been examined and there is no name of the PWs, who had witnessed the occurrence.
I have carefully appreciated the said findings in context to the averments in the FIR Ex.R.1, got lodged on the statement of Thakur Dass.
It is pertinent to mention that the said FIR is merely intimation given by Thakur Dass regarding the occurrence. He had not specifically mentioned the number of the Bus as he was not an eye-witness but was only a person who had given the information regarding the accident. The question of disclosing the name of eye witness or the number of the Bus involved in the F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
accident did not arise, because neither Thakur Dass was an eye-witness nor he had seen the accident, thus, the observation of the claims Tribunal that non- examination of Thakur Dass will go against the claimants or the testimony of AW3 and AW3 is not sustainable. It is a settled principles of law that witnesses may lie but the circumstance will not. The documents Ex.A32 and Ex.A4, the application for release of the Bus on supardari and authority letter for releasing the bus on supardari, in case FIR No. 83 of August 27, 1993, Police Station Sadar, Police Post Mehtiana, reflect the involvement of the Bus in an accident. Moreover, nothing has been brought on the record to indicate that there was an enmity of Sewa Singh and Manjit Singh with respondent No.1. Non-examination of Thakur Dass will not in any manner prejudice the case of the claimants. As such, finding of claims Tribunal on issue No.1 deserves to be reversed and his hereby reversed and it is held that accident had taken place on account of rash and negligent driving of Jagir Singh- respondent No.1,while driving Bus No. PUP 2791.
So far issue No.3 is concerned, the claims Tribunal considering the dependency as Rs.1500/- per month held that the claimants are entitled to a sum of Rs.2 lacs which would be just compensation. In view of the reversal of finding of claims Tribunal on issue No.1, the claimants are held entitled to compensation of Rs.2 lacs with interest at the rate of 7 ½ % from the date of the accident from respondents No.1 to 4 jointly and severally.
Both the claimants will be entitled to compensation in equal share.
Disposed of in the aforesaid terms.
F.A.O. No. 555 of 1995 
August, 2 2006 (M.M.S.BEDI)
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