High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Sukhbir Kaur & Ors v. Kabal Singh & Ors - FAO-5228-2005  RD-P&H 6331 (31 August 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH
DATE OF DECISION: 17.7.2006.
Sukhbir Kaur and others
Kabal Singh and others
CORAM:- Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uma Nath Singh.
Hon'ble Mr. Justice S.D.Anand.
Present: Mr.L.S.Sidhu, Advocate,
for the appellants
UMA NATH SINGH, J.
This judgment shall also dispose of the connected FAO No.5226 of 2005 (Baljit Kaur versus Kabal Singh and others) and FAO No.5227 of 2005 (Sukhbir Kaur versus Kabal Singh and others), as all the three appeals arise out of a common award dated 27.1.2005 passed by learned Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Fast Track Court, Ferozepur, in Claim Case Nos.40, 40-A and 40-B of 3.5.2000/15.10.2004, awarding a sum of Rs.2,80,000/- in the death case of Joginder Singh, Rs.30,000/- in the injury case of Sukhbir Kaur and Rs.30,034/- in the injury case of Baljit Kaur. However, in another FAO filed by injured Tejpal Kaur for enhancement of compensation, we have issued notice as, prima facie, the compensation amount appears to be inadequate.
It appears that on the date of accident, i.e., 19.2.2000 at about 5.30 PM, claimant Sukhbir Kaur along with her husband Joginder Singh, was returning to Ferozepur Cantt. in their two wheeler Moped mark Hero FAO No.5228 of 2005 2
Majestic (PB-05-C-1347), whereas two other injured Baljit Kaur and Tejpal Kaur were returning by their scooter (PB-05-E/8666), after purchasing their house-hold articles. When they reached near the crossing of octroi Post No.7, a little ahead of petrol pump, the offending vehicle being Ambassador Car (PUL-6) appeared from the opposite direction, being driven rashly and negligently by its Driver Kabal Singh. He was driving the offending vehicle at a very high speed and without giving any signal or blowing the horn, he struck it first against the scooter carrying Tejpal Kaur and Baljit Kaur and then against the moped being driven by deceased Joginder Singh, whereon his wife claimant Sukhbir Kaur was a pillion rider.
They all fell down on the road and received multiple injuries. Deceased Joginder Singh succumbed to the injuries on the spot, whereas claimant Sukhbir Kaur suffered fractures of both her legs and right arm. Another injured claimant Baljit Kaur received internal injuries. All the injured were immediately shifted to Frances Newton Hospital, Ferozepur Cantt., where they received medical treatment. The post-mortem of dead body of Joginder Singh was conducted and an FIR being No.9 dated 19.2.2000 was registered under Section 304-A IPC against the driver of the offending vehicle for causing death of Joginder Singh, and causing grievous and simple injuries to the injured claimants. Moreover, it is admitted that the driver of the offending vehicle Kabal Singh was convicted in the criminal trial.
Under the circumstances, claimant Sukhbir Kaur and her three minor children laid a claim for Rs.7,00,000/- towards compensation in the death case of her husband Joginder Singh. She also filed a separate claim petition in respect of personal injuries suffered by her. Similarly, Baljit Kaur also filed a separate claim petition in her injury case. The Tribunal, FAO No.5228 of 2005 3
amongst others, framed the issues like: as to whether the death of deceased Joginder Singh took place in the accident due to rash and negligent driving of the offending vehicle; as to whether injuries were received by the injured claimants in the accident ; as to whether the claimants are the legal heirs of deceased Joginder Singh; as to whether the claimants are entitled to receive compensation, and as to whether the driver of the offending vehicle was holding of a valid driving licence at the time of accident. Injured witnesses/claimants Tejpal Kaur (AW1), Baljit Kaur (AW2) and Sukhbir Kaur (AW3) appeared in the witness box. They reiterated that the offending vehicle, being driven rashly and negligently, had struck against their vehicles, causing death of Joginder Singh and injuries to others. The injured were shifted to Frances Newton Hospital, Ferozepur Cantt. where they were medically treated. Their statements were also corroborated by Dr.Tirath Garg (AW5) of Arti Hospital, Ferozepur City. He stated that claimant Sukhbir Kaur (AW3) was admitted in the hospital in injured condition with (i) segmental fracture of right femur; (ii) comminuted fracture of both bones of right leg, and (iii) compound fracture of right radius which was a stitched wound. Dr.Raman Raheja (AW6) of Frances Newton Hospital, Ferozepur Cantt. stated that the claimants were admitted in the hospital on having received accidental injuries on their person.
During the trial, the driver of the offending vehicle, Kabal Singh (RW3), appeared on behalf of the respondents and denied the allegations.
According to him, the two wheelers being driven by the claimants took a sudden right turn and struck against the offending vehicle. However, he admitted that Joginder Singh died on the spot. He also admitted that he had carried the victims to the hospital. Admittedly, he has been convicted in the FAO No.5228 of 2005 4
criminal case vide the judgment dated 30.11.2004. His only plea of defence was that the claimants have contributed to the accident. But, the Tribunal has found and rightly so that if a truck was coming from behind, to save themselves, it was not necessary for the claimants to have taken a right turn and, thus, has rejected the defence of the driver. The Tribunal has also rejected the submission of the Insurance Company that they were not given any opportunity to cross-examine the injured by holding that the Company did not seek permission under Section 170 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, to contest the case on merit. As regards the status of the legal heirs of the deceased, the evidence of Sukhbir Kaur (AW3), given on oath, being unrebutted, was believed in. Though Sukhbir Kaur has stated that her deceased husband Joginder Singh was earning Rs.20,000/- per month as a Mechanic by running a workshop at Mamdot, and she and her three minor children, below the age of 9 years, were wholly dependent upon him, but in the absence of documentary evidence, her claim as such was not accepted.
She also stated that she has suffered a lot due to the death of her husband so also on account of multiple bodily injuries received in the accident. In the absence of documentary evidence, the Tribunal has assessed the monthly income of deceased Joginder Singh at Rs.2500/-, after taking into consideration his age and health condition. Further, taking into account the nature and number of dependency, only 1/3rd has been deducted from his
earning. Accordingly, the dependency amount was worked out to be Rs.20,000/- per year. Though the widow claimed that the deceased was aged between 33 and 36 years, but the Tribunal has fixed the age of the deceased between 40 and 45 years on considering the materials on record. On the question of the multiplier, as per the Schedule, the multiplier applicable for FAO No.5228 of 2005 5
this age group would be 15, however, after taking into account all the attending circumstances, the tribunal has applied the multiplier of 14. Thus, the total compensation has been worked out to be Rs.2,80,000/- with 9% interest. The interest amount appears to be on higher side, but the claimant- wife has not been granted any amount towards consortium and funeral expenses. Hence, we do not think it expedient to interfere with the interest rate. The compensation amount being just and reasonable in the obtaining circumstances is affirmed and the claimant has no other ground for enhancement. As regards the injury case of Sukhbir Kaur, she was found to have spent Rs.12,528/- towards medical treatment and she also remained admitted in the hospital from 19.2.2000 to 7.3.2000, i.e., for a period of 18 days, due to plastering of the fracture. She had three school going minor children and, thus, she suffered mental pain and agony. She must have engaged some domestic help to look after her children, therefore, she was awarded a sum of Rs.15,000/- on that count. Besides, for the special diet she has been awarded Rs.2500/-. Thus, the grand total of the compensation has been worked out to be Rs.30,000/-. As regards the injury case of Baljit Kaur, she alleged to have suffered grievous injuries. There was a fracture of her pelvic bone and as such, she was operated upon at DMC and Hospital, Ludhiana. She has claimed to have spent Rs.50,000/- on medical treatment.
Besides, she has two minor children. The accident had also affected their education and upbringing for about six months. Dr.Rahul Bansal (AW7) has appeared in support of the medical expenses and has stated that she remained hospitalised from 21.2.2000 to 7.3.2000. During her medical treatment, she was complaining of abdominal pains and also pain in her both hips. She had been diagnosed to have fluid collection in the chest and FAO No.5228 of 2005 6
the fracture of pelvic bones. The total amount of her medical bills (Exs.P-1 to P29) was found to be Rs.15,034/-. Besides, for the pain and suffering and mental agony, she was awarded a sum of Rs.10,000/- and towards loss of education of her two minor children, she has been granted a sum of Rs.5,000/-. Thus, she has been awarded a compensation of Rs.30,034/- in total. However, in both the injury cases, there is no evidence to show that the claimants have also suffered any permanent disability.
Thus, the impugned award of compensation amounts appears to be just and reasonable. As per Hon'ble the Apex Court's judgment reported in 2003(7) SCC 484 (State of Haryana and another versus Jasbir Kaur and others), the compensation amount should be just and reasonable and it should not be distributed like bonanza.
Accordingly, these appeals, being devoid of merits, are, hereby dismissed.
( UMA NATH SINGH )
July 17, 2006 ( S.D.ANAND )
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