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Delhi High CourtIndian Cases

Mrs. Updesh Kaur And Ors. vs Jagram And Ors. on 4 November 2003

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Delhi High Court
Mrs. Updesh Kaur And Ors. vs Jagram And Ors. on 4 November, 2003
Equivalent citations: III(2004)ACC106
Author: S.K. Mahajan
Bench: S.K. Mahajan
JUDGMENT

S.K. Mahajan, J.

1. This appeal is filed by the appellants for enhancement of compensation awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal for the death of Mr. Raghubir Singh Kohli, husband of appellant No. 1 and father of appellants 2 and 3. The petition claiming compensation was originally filed by the widow, father, mother and minor sons of the deceased on the ground that the deceased had died in a road Accident caused by the rash and negligent driving of the offending vehicle by its driver. The Tribunal on the basis of the evidence on record came to a finding that the Accident had taken place due to the negligence on the part of the deceased who was driving the scooter as well as on the part of the tempo driver. The Tribunal held both of them responsible for the Accident to the extent of 50% each. Taking the income of the deceased at Rs. 2,500/- per month and deducting 1/3rd from the same towards pesonal expenses of the deceased, the depedency to the family was taken at Rs. 1,650/- per month. The deceased was 42 years of age at the time of death and applying the multiplier of 15 in terms of the Second Schedule, the Tribunal assessed a sum of Rs. 2,97,000/- to be the loss of depedency to the family. As the deceased was held to be 50% liable for the Accident, the Tribunal directed only 50% of such compensation to be paid to the appellants. A sum of Rs. 25,000/- had already been paid by way of interim compensation and the balance amount of Rs. 1,23,500/- was, therefore, directed to be paid along with interest @ 12% per annum. As already mentioned above, aggrieved by the award the appellants have filed the present appeal.

2. The contention of learned Counsel for the appellants is that the Tribunal has erred in holding that the deceased was equally responsible for the Accident and the appellants were entitled to total compensation awarded by the Tribunal. It is also contended that the Tribunal did not take into consideration the future prospects in the life and career of the deceased. It is also contended that the deceased besides himself had three major persons in his family which comprised his wife, his parents and two minor children and, therefore, the personal expenses which the deceased might have been spending upon himself could not have been taken at more than 1/5th of the income of the deceased and for this he places reliance upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in U.P. State Road Transport Corporation v. Trilok Chandra .

3. Insofar as the first contention of learned Counsel for the appellant that the deceased was not equally responsible for the Accident is concerned, I find that the only person who had deposed about the tempo being rash and negligent in the Accident is appellant No. 1 herself. As against her evidence, the driver of the offending vehicle appeared as his own witness and stated that the tempo was stationary when the deceased coming from behind hit the tempo from the back and thus the scooter had almost gone under the tempo and injuries were received by him as well as his wife as a result of which the deceased died the next day. From the statement made by appellant No. 1 as well as by the driver, it cannot be ascertained as to who was responsible for the Accident. The only thing which, therefore, required to be examined is the mechanical inspection report of the vehicles which may throw some light as to how the Accident took place. The mechanical inspection report of the tempo shows that it has a dent at its back, the number plate was also bent because of impact and the headlight and brakes were in order. Inspection report of the scooter shows that the handle was broken headlight was broken, front wheel mudguard was damaged, left side leg guard damaged and left side dickey was also damaged. The fact that the handle and headlight of the scooter had been broken and front portion of the tempo had no sign of an impact suggests that the scooter might have hit the tempo from the back. I am, therefore, in agreement with the Tribunal that the deceased was equally responsible for causing the Accident which resulted in his death.

4. There is, however, force in the contention of learned Counsel for the appellant that while assessing the loss of dependency to the family, the Tribunal ought to have taken into consideration the future prospects in the life and career of the deceased. The deceased was admittedly having an income of Rs. 2,500/- per month as stated in the petition claiming compensation. He was only 42 years of age and had many more years to work. Following the principles laid down by the Surpreme Court in Sarla Dixit and Anr. v. Balwant Yadav and Ors. , this Court would not be in error in estimating the average income of the deceased at Rs. 3,750/- per month or say Rs. 45,000/- per annum. As held by the Supreme Court in U.P. State Road Transport Corporation v. Trilok Chandra (supra) to arrive at the amount which the deceased might have been spending upon himself towards personal expenses the family can be divided into units taking two units for an adult and one unit for each of the minor. The deceased besides himself was supporting his widow, two minor sons and parents. There were thus four major members and two minor members in the family. The family can thus be divided into ten units taking two units for each of the four adults and one unit for two minors. Share per unit works out to Rs. 4,500/-. It can thus be assessed that the deceased was spending Rs. 9,000/- per annum upon himself towards personal expenses. The loss of dependency to the family would, therefore, come to Rs. 36,000/- per annum. The deceased was 42 years of age at the time of his death and applying the multiplier of 15 as per Second Schedule to the Motor Vehicles Act, the total loss of dependency to the family would come to Rs. 5,40,000/-. Adding to this the conventional figure of Rs. 20,000/- by way of non-pecuniary damages towards loss of love and affection, funeral expenses and loss of estate, etc. the total compensation comes to Rs. 5,60,000/-. As the deceased himself was responsible for causing the Accident, the family would not be entitled to more than 50% of such compensation.

5. I, Accordingly, partly allow this appeal and modify the award and direct that the appellants would be entitled to total compensation of Rs. 2,80,000/-. Appellants would also be entitled to interest @ 9% per annum on the enhanced compensation from the date of filing the petition till payment. With these observations, the appeal stands disposed of.