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Babulal And Ors. vs U.P. State Road Transport ...

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|20 December, 1983


JUDGMENT N.N. Mittal, J.
1. This is an appeal under Section 110-D of the Motor Vehicles Act filed by the claimant for enhancement of Compensation awarded to them by the Claims Tribunal. The son of the claimants, aged about 8 years, was killed in an accident near village Malakia on 4-3-75 at about 3.25 P.M. with Passenger Bus No. USS 4127 which was going from Allahabad to Lucknow. A claim for Rs. 30,000/- was lodged under various heads but the Claims Tribunal, after recording findings that the driver of the Bus was negligent, has awarded Rs. 17,600/- by way of compensation to them.
2. Since the Corporation was not chosen to file appeal against the award the question of its accountability for damages need not be enquired into. The only question that requires consideration in the appeal is the amount of compensation which ought to have been awarded to the claimants. Sri Jaiswal, appearing for the appellant, has assailed the findings on various grounds. According to him the Claims Tribunal has erred in taking the life expectancy to be 60 years in the case of the claimants while it should have been taken as 70 years. He has also contended that although the Claims Tribunal while setting the amount of compensation has assessed damages at Rs. 24,000/- yet the award has been made for Rs. 20,000/-because only that much amount had been claimed under that head. According to him, so long as the total claimed assessed by the Claims Tribunal fell within the limits of the total claim made in the petition the same ought to have been awarded irrespective of heads under which the claim has been divided. He also assailed the deduction of 20% made by the Claims Tribunal from the amount of damages assessed. According to him no deduction for lump sum nature of the claim was justified in this case because the claimants were neither given any ex-gratia payment by way of interim relief although promised by the Corporation at one stage nor the Claims Tribunal had taken into account the likely increase in prices and consequent devaluation of the rupee. The last argument advanced was that while awarding compensation the Tribunal should be liberal, more so in the case of Harijans and interest also should have been awarded from the date of the claim petition at the rate of 12%.
3. In support of his submission the learned Counsel has cited a number of cases of various High Courts. However, it is by now settled that each case has to be decided on the facts and circumstances of its own and only some kind of guidance can be had from the decided cases.
4. In this case the deceased was a lad of eight years. Admittedly, his parents did not possess any agricultural land and there is nothing to show that they had been engaged in agriculture. The evidence show that this lad was helping his parents in looking after the rearing of pegs, tending gowa and shepherding the goats. No. proof has been given to show that this boy was getting any education anywhere. The argument that as the boy belonged to scheduled caste he had bright chances of entering in Government service is, therefore, not correct. There is no reliable evidence on the record to establish that he was getting any education at the time of his death and, therefore, it is difficult to conceive how he could have managed to get any job. He was only helping his parents in some odd jobs of a routine nature and it is hardly possible to hold that the boy had bright chance of getting an employment is Government service.
5. On the basis of oral evidence led in the case the Claims Tribunal has come to the conclusion that he was likely to have contributed Rs. 100/-p.m. to his parents on the basis that he was likely to earn about Rs. 300/-p.m. in future, surprisingly, the Claims Tribunal has not taken into account the age of the deceased at the time of accident. For a number of years to come he may not have been of much monetary assistance to the parents until he had attained the age of 18 years. Until then he would have been more of a liability than of assistance to the parents. This would easily cut down ten years from the period during which he could have possibly supported his parents. Even if the longevity is taken as 70 years, although there is no basis for it, yet it would make no material difference in the amount computed as compensation by the Tribunal.
6. The claims Tribunals also ignored that in the case of young child uncertainties of the future also get multiplied many times. By the age of 20 to 21 years normally a young man is able to chart out future for himself. That may not be the position in a case of a very young child. In such cases it is all the more difficult to form any idea about the future possibilities which may be replete with many imponderables. It is always safe to stake at lower figure than to fix it high and the Tribunal normally tries to a moderate view in such matters.
7. Sri S.K. Sharma, learned Counsel for the respondents has reeled out a number of cases where young persons had been involved in fatal accidents. The normal amount of compensation determined in most of these cases was between Rs. 5000/- to Rs. 10000/-. It is true that in some of the cases the accident had taken place even prior to 1970 when the money value was considerably more than what it is today and, therefore, compensation in that range may not be suitable in the present context yet it is helpful in forming an idea about the compensation normally awarded in such cases. Award of Rs. 17,600/- in this case, therefore, cannot by any standard be said to be on a lower side as contended by the appellant. In the circumstances it rather appears to be reasonable. Thus on the basis of monthly contribution of Rs. 100/- to the parents for a period of 20 years the total amount has been worked out as Rs. 24000/-. However, only Rs. 20,000/- has been claimed under this head. Sri Jaiswal has urged that in the form of petition provided under Section 110A of the Motor Vehicles Act there was no necessity of bifurcating the total amount claimed under various heads. If the claimants had been wrongly advised to do so they should not be allowed to suffer if, according to Tribunal's own calculation, a higher amount was determined, and there can be no justification in reducing the same. It is no doubt true that in a petition under Section 110-A the claimant is not required to mention various heads under which compensation was being claimed; yet if one chooses to do so he is certainly bound by the choice made by him and he cannot be allowed to turn round to say that he should be awarded a higher amount. An admission of this nature necessarily binds the claimants and they cannot be allowed to go beyond that. 1 am not prepared to accept the proposition that any limitation on the claims under various heads voluntarily put by them would not be binding. It is a matter of pleadings and in a double dummy system of litigation which is prevalent in this country, the Corporation was entitled to know the precise claim it had to meet. Allowing the claimant to change the stand at the stage of argument cannot, therefore be legally permitted.
8. As for the deduction of 20% made due to lump sum nature of the payment the same also cannot be said to be unjustified. The amount of help, pecuniary or otherwise, which the parents were likely to get from the deceased, was to come to them in trickles; what the claimants would be getting by way of compensation would be a lump sum. If the lump sum amount is kept in a bank it will earn to them much more than Rs. 100/- p.m. and yet keep the capital intact. In such circumstances, it cannot be said that the deduction made on this account was not proper.
9. The argument that there has been a continuous rise in price in the past and there is every likelihood of such increase in future also, has no place. As seen earlier, no-one can predict about the future. Even if today there is tendency of rise in prices but, may be, ten years hence this trend may be reversed. These are all future uncertainties and, therefore, in assessing the amount of compensation the court should be a little more conservative and not so liberal as to distribute bounties. A proper balance must always be maintained. The amount of compensation should neither be too low nor too liberal and should always be determined keeping in view the normal and reasonable expectations which one can envisage at the time of making the award.
10. Merely because the claimant happened to be Harijan also cannot be any reason to allow a higher amount of compensation. There is no such requirement under law or rules framed thereunder. Harijan factor must be cared for while considering the possibility of future employment or earning of the deceased and in this case this had been well taken care of. On this account nothing more should be excepted by the claimant.
11. Coming last to the question of interest, Section 110-CC of the Act only empowers the court to award interest. It is urged that in such cases interest must always be awarded from the date of petition; but in this case nothing has been said about payment of interest not any reason has been assigned by the court for not doing so. Although the section only empowers the court to award interest and thus it is not necessary that the court must in every case award it. Where the interest has not been awarded it must normally be presumed that the court did not deem it proper to award the same and that such relief had been refused. However, since it is social legislation designed to benefit the victims of accident or his dependents one would expect the Tribunal to give reasons for not awarding interest to the claimants, particularly when it takes so long to obtain an award even in such cases. Sri S.K. Sharma, appearing for the respondent has submitted that where the amount awarded is already high usually interest is not awarded and in the present case also the Tribunal was justified in not awarding any interest. The appellant relies upon Union of India v. Addl. District Judge, Meerut (1983 Allahabad-258) in support of his claim which lays down that if one withholds payment of money from another who is deprived of its use the latter must get interest. However, that was a case for the recovery of a sum certain and not for determination of compensation which becomes debt only when quantified and only thereafter interest can really become payable thereon. In this case although the accident had taken place on 4-1-75 the award was made only on 22-12-79. Thus from the date of the award till the date of payment only interest would be payable. It is admitted before me that the amount awarded has already been paid. Therefore the only modification which the award needs is that in addition to Rs. 17,600/- the claimants will also get interest at the rate of 6% per annum on this sum from the date of award till the date of its payment. But for this modification, the appeal fails.
12. In the result the appeal fails and is dismissed with modification indicated earlier. However, there will be no order as to costs.
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Babulal And Ors. vs U.P. State Road Transport ...


High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

20 December, 1983
  • N Mittal