Sunday, 13 December 2015

How to appreciate evidence in case for recovering of compensation in motor accident claim?

 I have considered the evidence on the record in the light of citations and the aforesaid well-established principles of appreciating evidence in the cases of the Motor vehicle accidents.
In my opinion in the facts and circumstances of the case the Tribunal committed error of law in its failure to properly appreciate the evidence led on record. Smt. Ramamurthy, widow of the deceased Ramprakash Mishra deposed in the Tribunal. She deposed about the Motor vehicle accident occurred on 06-10-1994, while her Husband Ramprakash also known as Ramkrishna was proceeding towards Nagpur from Umred Road. When Truck no MWY-7567 forcibly dashed the Scooter. Ramprakash was removed to the Hospital at Nagpur. Her husband died on 02-11-1994 during the course of his medical treatment. She incurred medical expenses to the tune of Rs1,25,000/- (Bills EX 24). She deposed that Police Station Kuhi at had provided the Police Papers of their inquiry The FIR, spot Panchnama, Accident report, P.M. report, Charge sheet (Exhs.25 to 30). In Claim Petitions in respect of motor vehicle accidents such evidence need to be disregarded in the larger 
 interest of justice. One cannot act stubbornly to insist strict evidence in the inquiry of an Claim Petition in respect of motor vehicle accident as if it is a Criminal trial requiring the evidence to be proved beyond all reasonable doubts. The evidence in the form of depositions corroborated by the Police investigation material may be considered as adequate evidence of the motor vehicle accident caused by offending motor vehicle driven rashly and negligently by its driver as per Police report notwithstanding acquittal of driver of criminal charges. The witness deposing in the accident case need not necessarily be an eyewitness. Close relative and dependent of the deceased or injured can come forward to depose as to facts which came to their knowledge. They can assist the Tribunal to complete the inquiry of a summary nature in such cases of motor vehicle accident claim. The witness- Widow of the deceased had specifically denied the suggestion put to her that Ramprakash fell on his own from the scooter. There was no serious challenge to the veracity of the version put up by the Widow of the deceased. Police investigation papers were marked as exhibits and must be read in support of the deposition. Hence the learned Member of the Tribunal fell in error to disbelieve the case of the Claim applicants praying for the compensation for the death of Ramprakash Mishra in the motor vehicle accident.
Bombay High Court
Smt.Rammurti Wd/O Ramprakash ... vs Rudresh B. Tiwari & Anr on 6 August, 2015
Bench: A.P. Bhangale
Citation;2015(6) MHLJ305 Bom
1. Heard submissions at the Bar. This appeal by legal representatives of the deceased victim of the Motor vehicle accident .....3/-
fa336.03 Ramprakash Mishra questions the legality of the impugned judgment and order dated passed by the Learned Member of the Motor Accident Tribunal, Nagpur in the proceedings of the Claim Petition No.415 of 1995. Under Section 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act the 'No fault" liability claim was made for compensation in the sum of Rs 25,000/-. On 19-12-1995 compensation was granted accordingly together with interest at the rate of 12% p.a. The insurer Company deposited the sum of Rs 29,750/-. The Claim Petition No.415 of 1995 was dismissed and the Tribunal directed the refund of the amount from the claimants to the Insurer.
2. It is case of the appellants that the death of the deceased Ramprakash Mishra, aged about 45 years of age the business as stone crusher, had occurred as a result of the Motor vehicle accident when driver of the offending Truck registration No.MWY/7567, driving the same rashly and negligently caused the accident when the deceased Ramprakash was driving his scooter from Umrer towards Nagpur, the Truck gave him a dash. In the result Ramprakash fell down and went in coma as he was injured .....4/-
fa336.03 severely on his head. The injured was taken to the Central India Institute of Medical Sciences at Bajaj Nagar, Nagpur and received medical treatment till he succumbed to the injuries on 02-11-1994.
The Truck was owned by Late Shri Rudresh Tiwary and insured by the National Insurance Company policy covering the date of the accident. The case of the appellant remained uncontroverted by the opponents to the Claim Petition. The Tribunal failed to appreciate that the appellants could not have been blamed for mentioning incorrect registration number of the offending motor vehicle by the Police in the FIR and the Spot Panchnama, particularly when no evidence was led by the Opponent parties to the Claim Petition. The medical officer attending the injured in the Hospital had failed to inform the Police of the accident. The appellants who were in a state of shock could not inform the Police about the accident in time. Appellants could not have been blamed under the circumstances for the clerical mistake or error by the Police mentioning the Truck number as MWY-4765 by the Police lapse in not mentioning properly the correct name of the victim and the registration number of the Truck which caused the accident.
.....5/-
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3. It is submitted on behalf of the appellants that according to law under Section 140 of the Motor Vehicle Act, they were not obliged to plead and prove that the death of the victim of the accident was due to any wrongful act, neglect or default on the part of the Owner of the offending vehicle. The Tribunal ought not to have ordered refund of the amount paid or deposited towards 'no fault' liability.
4. Chapter 10 with Sections 140 to 144 provides for interim compensation on 'No Fault' Basis. According to this provision Rs.
50,000/- is to be given to the kith and kin of the deceased and Rs.
25,000/- to the grievously injured victim. The compensation under Section 140 is made payable if prima facie evidence of following is available;
(i) Accident by the offending vehicle;
(ii) Offending vehicle being insured;
(iii) Death or grievous injuries have been caused.
5. Unlike the main claim petition, negligence is not .....6/-
fa336.03 required to be proved under Section 140 of the Act and this interim compensation is not refundable even if negligence is not proved in the main claim application. Under Chapter 10 for interim award insurer is not even permitted to raise any defence relating to negligence of applicant or permitted under Section 149 of Motor Vehicle Act. But, if ultimately it is held that insurer is not liable to pay compensation to the victim then the insurer company can receive or recover the compensation already paid by it from owner and/or driver of the offending Motor Vehicle concerned .
6. The legal position stated above indicate clearly that the Tribunal erred to dismiss the Claim under Section 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act and to order the refund of the amount of compensation awarded on the ground of 'no fault' liability. The appeal therefore must succeed to quash and set aside the impugned Judgment and order. The amount paid in the sum of Rs 29,750/- paid/ deposited towards the no-fault liability under Section 140 of the Motor vehicle Act need not therefore be refunded by the respondent insurer to the claimants.
.....7/-
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7. Next question is about the final relief in the claim petition. Learned Advocate pointed the ruling in the case of Parmeshwari ..vs.. Amirchand reported at (2011)11 SCC 635.
In paragraph Nos.12 and 13 it is observed thus :-
"We are constrained to repeat our observation that the total approach of the High Court, unfortunately, was not sensitized enough to appreciate the plight of the victim. The other so- called reason in the High Court's order was that as the claim petition was filed after four months of the accident, the same is "a device to grab money from the insurance company". This finding in the absence of any material is certainly perverse. The High Court appears to be not cognizant of the principle that in a road accident claim, the strict principles of proof in a criminal case are not attracted. The following observations of this Court in Bimla Devi and others vs. Himachal Road Transport Corporation and others [(2009) 13 SCC 530] are very pertinent.
In a situation of this nature, the Tribunal has rightly taken a holistic view of the matter. It was necessary to be borne in mind that strict proof of an accident caused by a particular bus in a particular manner may not be possible to be done by the claimants. The claimants were merely to establish their case on the touchstone of preponderance of probability. The standard of .....8/-
fa336.03 proof beyond reasonable doubt could not have been applied."
8. The Apex Court was thus pleased to allow that appeal as it found that the High Court had disturbed well-considered decision of the Tribunal based upon the detailed account of the accident.
9. Reference is the made on behalf of the appellant to the ruling in the case of Ravi ..vs.. Badrinarayan & others reported at (2011) 4 SCC 693 in order to submit that though there was some delay in lodging the FIR, it could not have been taken as a main ground for rejecting the claim petition of the appellant. He has further submitted that though daily diary report of the police may not be exhibited in the claim petition, the same can be relied upon by the Tribunal for the purpose of contradicting the contents of the FIR. According to the learned counsel for the appellant, when the owner of the vehicle in question had not disputed the accident the Tribunal had committed an error apparent on the face of record in dismissing the claim petition.
.....9/-
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10. I have considered the evidence on the record in the light of citations and the aforesaid well-established principles of appreciating evidence in the cases of the Motor vehicle accidents.
In my opinion in the facts and circumstances of the case the Tribunal committed error of law in its failure to properly appreciate the evidence led on record. Smt. Ramamurthy, widow of the deceased Ramprakash Mishra deposed in the Tribunal. She deposed about the Motor vehicle accident occurred on 06-10-1994, while her Husband Ramprakash also known as Ramkrishna was proceeding towards Nagpur from Umred Road. When Truck no MWY-7567 forcibly dashed the Scooter. Ramprakash was removed to the Hospital at Nagpur. Her husband died on 02-11-1994 during the course of his medical treatment. She incurred medical expenses to the tune of Rs1,25,000/- (Bills EX 24). She deposed that Police Station Kuhi at had provided the Police Papers of their inquiry The FIR, spot Panchnama, Accident report, P.M. report, Charge sheet (Exhs.25 to 30). In Claim Petitions in respect of motor vehicle accidents such evidence need to be disregarded in the larger .....10/-
fa336.03 interest of justice. One cannot act stubbornly to insist strict evidence in the inquiry of an Claim Petition in respect of motor vehicle accident as if it is a Criminal trial requiring the evidence to be proved beyond all reasonable doubts. The evidence in the form of depositions corroborated by the Police investigation material may be considered as adequate evidence of the motor vehicle accident caused by offending motor vehicle driven rashly and negligently by its driver as per Police report notwithstanding acquittal of driver of criminal charges. The witness deposing in the accident case need not necessarily be an eyewitness. Close relative and dependent of the deceased or injured can come forward to depose as to facts which came to their knowledge. They can assist the Tribunal to complete the inquiry of a summary nature in such cases of motor vehicle accident claim. The witness- Widow of the deceased had specifically denied the suggestion put to her that Ramprakash fell on his own from the scooter. There was no serious challenge to the veracity of the version put up by the Widow of the deceased. Police investigation papers were marked as exhibits and must be read in support of the deposition. Hence the learned .....11/-
fa336.03 Member of the Tribunal fell in error to disbelieve the case of the Claim applicants praying for the compensation for the death of Ramprakash Mishra in the motor vehicle accident.
11. The claim applicants were therefore entitled to claim compensation for the death of Ramprakash Mishra in the Motor vehicle in question. Next question is quantum of compensation.
Ramprakash was a businessman aged about 45 years old. .The claimants had claimed modest amount of Rs. 12,00,000/- as total compensation. The compensation can be awarded thus :-
Annual income of the deceased Ramprakash Rs.10,000/-
x 12 = Rs 1,20,000/-
Deduction towards Self expenses Rs 40,000/- = Rs.80,000/- per year x Multiplier applicable 14 = Rs.11,20,000/-
+ add Funeral, expenses, Rs.20,000/-
+ add Loss of Love and affection Rs.30,000/-
+ add Loss of consortium for Widow Rs.30,000/-
= Total Rs.12,00,000/- is payable as just and reasonable compensation claimed.
.....12/-
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12. I must direct accordingly that the respondents (except respondent No.3 State Government) are jointly and severally liable to pay compensation in the sum of Rs.12.00 Lacs inclusive of the no fault liability together with interest on the unpaid compensation at the rate of Rs. 7% interest per annum from the date of the claim application till realization. Impugned judgment and order is therefore set aside as unsustainable.
13. The appeal is allowed accordingly. The record and proceedings be sent back to the Tribunal for execution proceedings of this award.
JUDGE !! brw (pdirve) !! ...../-
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