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Delhi High CourtIndian Cases

Sangeeta vs Surender Kumar And Ors. on 11 November 2003

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Delhi High Court
Sangeeta vs Surender Kumar And Ors. on 11 November, 2003
Equivalent citations: I(2004)ACC266, 2004ACJ817
Author: Pradeep Nandrajog
Bench: Pradeep Nandrajog
JUDGMENT

Pradeep Nandrajog, J.

1. The appellant Sangeeta was a student of class IX and was aged 14 years, when on 28.3.1978 she met with an accident involving bus No. DEP 2260 and as a result of the accident she sustained injury on her left thigh. She suffered severe damage to the muscles and as per the evidence of PWs 4 and 5 had to undergo numerous operations to provide skin-grafting to the damaged left leg and she remained under medical treatment till 26.5.1978.

2. The bus in question was owned by the respondent No. 3 who was conducting business as a transporter under the name and style of respondent No. 6. The bus was a private bus but was operating under the control of D.T.C., respondent No. 5. The bus was insured with respondent No. 4.

3. By the award dated 4.12.1987, the learned M.A.C.T. held that the accident was caused due to rash and negligent driving of the bus, which was being driven by the respondent No. 1. It was held that no liability could be fastened on respondent No. 5, D.T.C. Award was made against respondent Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 6 jointly and severally.

4. After holding that the accident was caused due to rash and negligent act of the driver of the bus and holding that no liability could be fastened on the D.T.C., the learned Tribunal proceeded to assess the compensation payable. A sum of Rs. 70,000 was held payable to the appellant as compensation, as under:

(a) Mental pain, agony and suffering: Rs. 35,000
(b) Medical expenses, special diet and conveyance: Rs. 15,000
(c) Loss of future prospects and lessening prospects of marriage: Rs. 20,000.

5. On the awarded amount interest was awarded at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of order till realisation.

6. Claim petition was filed on 22.7.1978 and was decided on 4.12.1987. No reasons have been given as to why interest pendente lite has not been awarded. Record shows that appellant was not to be faulted, in that, delay cannot be attributed to her. I accordingly hold that the appellant would be entitled to interest on the sum of Rs. 70,000 awarded as compensation under the award at the rate of 12 per cent per annum (simple interest) from the date of the petition, i.e., 22.9.1978 till the date of appellant received the awarded amount of Rs. 70,000.

7. Though, it would be difficult to compute the compensation in such a case, on account of mental pain, agony and suffering as also loss of future prospects and lessening prospects of marriage but some of the important and salient points which emerged on the evidence on record, to my mind, have unfortunately been ignored by the Tribunal.

8. The testimony of the doctors, PW 4 and PW 5 show that appellant remained hospitalised from 28.3.1978 to 26.5.1978, for nearly two months. She had to undergo skin-grafting. The injury suffered by the appellant resulted in severe damage to the underlying muscles of the thigh and even knee joint was effected. She had to undergo numerous operations for skin-grafting. Though the skin could be grafted, appellant suffered significant loss of functions of the left thigh because of the damage to the underlying muscles and poor quality of the overlying skin-grafting. No doubt, there is no permanent disability but this does not mean that injury was simple or superfluous.

9. The two months of hospitalisation, where repeated skin-grafting had to be done, blood transfusion had to take place; in my opinion would have caused prolonged physical pain and mental trauma to the appellant who was in the prime of her life, aged 14 years. Compensation assessed in the sum of Rs. 35,000 under the said head, is too inadequate. I enhance the same to a sum of Rs. 70,000.

10. Since as per the testimony of the doctors, appellant was given medical treatment in Government hospital, free of cost, I maintain the compensation assessed by Rs. 15,000 as awarded by the Tribunal on account of special diet, conveyance and medical expenses.

11. As noted, compensation assessed on account of loss of future prospects and lessening prospects of marriage is in the sum of Rs. 20,000. I may note that the appellant is a girl. In an Indian society the problems which she would have faced in finding a suitable life partner due to the scars on thigh as a result of the accident cannot be ignored. Further, the testimony of the doctors shows that some kind of disability would be suffered by her in her life due to the poor quality of skin and the result of skin-grafting. The compensation on this account has been determined at Rs. 20,000. In my opinion, it is inadequate. I assess the same at Rs. 50,000.

12. I, therefore, assess the total compensation at Rs. 1,35,000. The appellant has received compensation in the sum of Rs. 70,000. I enhance compensation in the sum of Rs. 65,000. Appellant shall be entitled to interest on this enhanced compensation at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of filing of the petition, i.e., 22.9.1978 till 31.3.2001 and thereafter would be entitled to interest on the said sum at the rate of 9 per cent per annum with effect from 1.4.2001 till date of realisation in the light of judgment of this court in Mamta Mohindra v. Deputy Commissioner of Police, 2004 ACJ 395 (Delhi).