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Jothi v. Viruthasarani - CMA. No.344 of 2002  RD-TN 2002 (20 June 2007)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
DATED : 20.06.2007
THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE S.PALANIVELU
C.M.A. No.344 of 2002
2. United India Insurance Company Ltd.,
Arani. ...Appellants Vs
4. Malarkodi ...Respondents Appeal against the award and decree, dated 16.04.2001, made in MACTOP No.159 of 1994, on the file of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (Principal Sub-Court), Tindivanam.
For appellants : Mr.P.Sukumar
For Respondents : Mr.P.Mani
J U D G M E N T
Insurance Company and the owner have filed this appeal, aggrieved over the award, dated 16.04.2001, made in MACTOP No.159 of 1994, on the file of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (Principal Sub-Court), Tindivanam, awarding a compensation of Rs.2,00,000/-, as against the claim of Rs.3,00,000/-.
2. There is no dispute about the manner of accident and the liability fixed on the driver, for causing the accident.
3. One Mannan suffered injuries in a road traffic accident on 26.10.1993 at about 07.15 p.m., while he was going along Gingee-Chetput Road, on account of rash and negligent driving of the driver of the bus, belonging to first appellant. The said Mannan was engaged in the business of purchasing and selling milch animals and earning a sum of Rs.3,000/- per month. It is also in evidence that he was leading goats, among which 10 goats died in the accident on the spot. Gravity of the accident is depicted by the said circumstance.
4. Originally, the said Mannan filed the claim petition for a compensation of Rs.1,10,000/- and since he succumbed to injuries pending the claim petition, the claimants, after their impleadment as wife, son and daughters, prayed for an enhanced compensation of Rs.3,00,000/-.
5. The main contention of the claimants/respondents is that Mannan died due to the injuries, which he suffered in the accident and there was no other cause for his death.
6. The Insurance Company makes a scathing attack on the contention of the claimants with regard to the death of the deceased, stating that he did not die on account of injuries he received in the accident, but he met with his ill-fate by some other means. It is also argued that it is the bounden duty of the claimants to establish the cause of death of the said Mannan.
7. There is no debate with regard to the negligence attributed on the part of driver of the vehicle belonging to first respondent. The insurance coverage is also far from dispute.
8. The accident took place on 26.10.1993, while Mannan died on 12.04.1995, after a period of 18 months. The legal maxim Actio Personalis Moritur cum Persona is also projected on behalf of the appellants and it is represented that the action ceases with the person, who died. It is noteworthy to note that after the death of Mannan, his corpse was not subjected to autopsy. So, a connecting link is missing, to find out the cause of death. Therefore, this Court is left with no other option except to analyse the other circumstances and records available in this matter.
9. It is seen from the award of the tribunal that while Mannan was alive, he accepted to compromise the matter, by receipt of Rs.18,000/- and a memo to that effect was also prepared, in which he had not inked, but his advocate signed. However, on the basis of the said document, the Court could not come to a conclusion.
10. Son of the deceased was examined as P.W.1, who deposed that in the accident, his father suffered head injury; he lost two teeth and also received various injuries; he was admitted to Pondicherry Jipmer Hospital from where he was removed to Government Hospital, Chennai, and he got discharged from the said hospital, since he was informed that he would recover soon.
11. Ex.A-2 is the copy of the Accident Register, issued to Mannan, in which nine injuries are described, out of which the first injury is a lacerated injury 5 x = x 3 cms. on the left side of the forehead and others are contusions and abrasions on various parts of the body. Ex.A-3 is the copy of O.P.Ticket, issued to Mannan, by General Hospital, Madras. Ex.A-4 is another Accident Register, issued to Mannan, by Government General Hospital on 27.02.1995, wherein it is stated that about one year ago, he was hit by a bus and the patient was referred from Neuro O.P. in the same hospital for A.R.entry and he was complaining of giddiness. Thereafter, he was referred to Neuro O.P. Ex.A-6 is the Discharge Slip, issued by Pondicherry Government Hospital, for a lacerated injury to his left ankle.
12. Doctor, P.W.2, deposed before the tribunal that after a perusal of the medical records pertaining to Mannan, he was of the opinion that Mannan's death was due to the injuries received in the road traffic accident. He gave Ex.A-8 Certificate, wherein he mentioned that Mannan died on 12.04.1995 due to post traumatic complications of a road traffic accident, in which he sustained poly trauma, including head injury.
13. As far as this case is concerned, the Court has to very much scan the findings and observations in Exs.A-2 to A-4, A-6 and A-8. A cumulative effect of the said analysis would go to show that Mannan died of head injury, which he sustained in the accident. As evident from Ex.A-2, Mannan suffered a head injury. Though it appeared to be a superficial one, it had got its own impact inside the skull, because he was complaining of giddiness before the doctor in Government Hospital, Madras, after one year. It is also noteworthy to point out that Mannan was referred from Neuro O.P. and, after examination by the doctor, who recorded Ex.A-4, he was again referred back to the same department, namely, Neuro O.P. The fact that he sustained head injury is far from any doubt. There is no evidence available with the appellants that Mannan met with his death due to some other reasons. The injured was aged about 50 years at the time of accident and had there been any other reason for his death, it might have been unearthed by the Insurance Company after the claim petition was amended for enhanced compensation after the death of Mannan, by appointing its own investigators. The silence on the part of the Insurance Company has to be noted. Preponderance of probabilities in this matter goes a long way to establish that Mannan died owing to the injuries, which he received in the road traffic accident and not by any other means. Hence, the finding of the tribunal in this regard deserves to be confirmed.
14. With regard to quantum of compensation arrived at by the tribunal, this Court does not find any infirmity it it. It is seen from the oral testimony of P.W.1, son of the deceased, that his father was earning about Rs.5,000/- per month, by purchasing and selling cattle. There is no doubt on this aspect, since, even at the time of accident, the deceased was steering goats and about 10 of them died in the accident. The tribunal had not taken into account the loss of value of goats, which died at the time of accident. Instead, the tribunal assessed the income of the deceased at Rs.3,000/- per month and fixed dependency at Rs.2,000/-, thus arriving at the compensation of Rs.24,000/- as 'annual loss of income'. It also applied the multiplier '8' and fixed the total loss of income at Rs.1,92,000/-. Towards 'funeral expenses', a sum of Rs.2,000/- and for 'loss of love and affection', a sum of Rs.6,000/- was awarded. Thus, totally, the tribunal awarded a sum of Rs.2,00,000/-, which, I feel, is just and proper. This Court cannot appreciate the contention put forth by the learned counsel for the appellants. Hence, there is no need to dislodge or disturb the findings and observations of the tribunal.
15. In the result, this Civil Miscellaneous Appeal is dismissed, confirming the award of the tribunal. No costs. The claimants/respondents are at liberty to withdraw the balance amount.
The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal,
Principal Sub Court,
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