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Monday, March 10, 2014

Accident claim M.V. Act - Contributory Negligence - absence of any cogent evidence- High court reduce the compensation to 50% under the impression the deceased might be aged 18 years below , could not have been permitted to drive a vehicle - Apex court held that In the instant case, there is no specific evidence to prove that the accident has taken place due to rash and negligent driving of the deceased scooterist. In the absence of any cogent evidence to prove the plea of contributory negligence, the said doctrine of common law cannot be applied in the present case. and Apex court set aside the judgment of High court and allowed the appeal = MEERA DEVI & ANR. ... APPELLANTS VERSUS H.R.T.C. & ORS. ... RESPONDENTS = 2014 (March. Part )judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41308

   Accident claim M.V. Act - Contributory Negligence - absence of any cogent evidence- High court reduce the compensation to 50% under the impression the deceased might be aged 18 years   below , could not have been permitted to drive a vehicle- Apex court held that In the instant case, there is no specific  evidence  to  prove  that  the accident has taken place  due  to  rash  and  negligent  driving  of  the deceased scooterist.  In the absence of any cogent evidence to prove  the plea of contributory negligence, the said doctrine of common  law  cannot be applied in the present case. and Apex court set aside the judgment of High court and allowed the appeal =
 High Court of  Himachal  Pradesh  at
        Shimla in FAO No. 441 of 2003 whereby the  amount  of  compensation
        awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal,  Mandi  (for  short,
        ‘the Tribunal’) in Claim Petition No. 58 of 2001 was  reduced  from
        Rs.3,17,200/-  to  Rs.1,58,600/-  on  the  ground  of  contributory
        negligence.
the High
        Court held that since the deceased not even  being  18  years’  old
        could not have been permitted to drive the scooter, the accident in
        question occurred due to contributory negligence both on  the  part
        of the scooterist and the bus driver in equal  measure  and,  thus,
        reduced  the  amount  of   compensation   from   Rs.3,17,200/-   to
        Rs.1,58,600/-.  The appellants have come  in  appeal  against  this
        judgment dated 27.03.2006. =

     It is not in dispute that the deceased was  the  only  son  of  his
        parents, i.e., the appellants herein. 
 It is also  not  in  dispute
        that when the collusion between the scooter and the bus took  place
        on the fateful day at a place known as  Nabahi,  the  deceased  was
        driving scooter on his left side towards Sarkaghat from Mandi side.
         
Admittedly, at the site where there was a curve,  the  bus  driver
        did not blow the horn and the bus was being driven at a  very  high
        speed.  
All this is corroborated from the testimony  of  PW-3  Lekh
        Ram, who is stated to be an eye witness to  the  accident  and  not
        related to the deceased scooterist.



   10.To prove the contributory negligence, there must  be cogent  evidence.
  
 In the instant case, there is no specific  evidence  to  prove  that  the
   accident has taken place  due  to  rash  and  negligent  driving  of  the
   deceased scooterist.  
In the absence of any cogent evidence to prove  the
   plea of contributory negligence, the said doctrine of common  law  cannot
   be applied in the present case.  
We are,  thus,  of  the  view  that  the
   reasoning given by the High Court  has  no  basis  and  the  compensation
   awarded by the  Tribunal  was  just  and  reasonable  in  the  facts  and
   circumstances of the case.


   11.In view of above, we allow  the  appeal.   Accordingly,  the  impugned
   judgment of the High Court dated  27.03.2006  is set aside and the award
   of the Tribunal dated 01.07.20013 is upheld, with no orders as to costs. 
2014 (March. Part )judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41308
P SATHASIVAM, RANJAN GOGOI, N.V. RAMANA
                                              NON-REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5764 OF 2008

MEERA DEVI & ANR.                            ...  APPELLANTS
                                   VERSUS
H.R.T.C. & ORS.                              ... RESPONDENTS


                               J U D G M E N T

N.V.RAMANA,J.

     1. The appellants by way of this  appeal  has  impugned  the  judgment
        dated 27.03.2006 passed by the High Court of  Himachal  Pradesh  at
        Shimla in FAO No. 441 of 2003 whereby the  amount  of  compensation
        awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal,  Mandi  (for  short,
        ‘the Tribunal’) in Claim Petition No. 58 of 2001 was  reduced  from
        Rs.3,17,200/-  to  Rs.1,58,600/-  on  the  ground  of  contributory
        negligence.
     2. On 31.05.2001, the deceased Upamnyu, who was the only  son  of  the
        appellants herein, was driving scooter having registration No.  HP-
        28-215 from Mandi side towards Sarkaghat.  When  he  reached  at  a
        place known as Nabahi, an accident  took  place  between  the  said
        scooter and bus having registration No. HP-28-715, which was  being
        driven by respondent No. 3 herein, namely, Gian  Chand,  driver  in
        H.R.T.C., Region Sakarghat, Mandi, H.P.   Since  the  deceased  got
        injured in that accident, he  was  taken  to  C.HC.  Sakarghat  and
        thereafter when he was being taken to PGI Chandigarh,  he  died  on
        his way.



     3. The appellants claimed that the said accident had occurred  due  to
        rash and negligent driving of respondent  No.  3  herein,  who  was
        driving the bus in high speed.  It was averred  by  the  appellants
        that the deceased, who was a student, was  also  doing  agriculture
        and household work earning Rs.4,000/-  per  month  and  they  being
        parents of the  deceased  were  dependant  upon  him.   With  these
        averments, the appellants filed a claim petition under Section  166
        of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (for  short,  ‘the  said  Act’)  on
        21.07.2001 and sought compensation to the tune of Rs.15 lakhs.  The
        respondents contested the claim of the  appellants  on  the  ground
        that respondent No. 3 on seeing the deceased coming on scooter from
        the opposite side at a high speed had stopped the bus and when  the
        scooter collided with the bumper of the  bus,  the  bus  was  in  a
        stationary condition.



     4. The Tribunal vide award dated 01.07.20013,  while  relying  on  the
        testimony of PW-3 Lekh Ram and other  evidence  placed  on  record,
        returned a categorical finding that the  said  accident  has  taken
        place due to rash and negligent driving of the driver of the bus as
        the bus driver did not blow the horn at the site where there  is  a
        curve and, thus, awarded compensation of Rs.3,17,200/-  along  with
        interest.



     5. Against the aforesaid judgment of  the  Tribunal,  the  respondents
        filed an appeal under Section 173 of the said Act before  the  High
        Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla, which was  registered  as  FAO
        No. 441 of 2003.  Vide impugned judgment dated 27.03.2006, the High
        Court held that since the deceased not even  being  18  years’  old
        could not have been permitted to drive the scooter, the accident in
        question occurred due to contributory negligence both on  the  part
        of the scooterist and the bus driver in equal  measure  and,  thus,
        reduced  the  amount  of   compensation   from   Rs.3,17,200/-   to
        Rs.1,58,600/-.  The appellants have come  in  appeal  against  this
        judgment dated 27.03.2006.



     6. Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the  High  Court,
        in the absence of any cogent material placed on  record,  erred  in
        holding  that  the  accident  occurred  due  to  the   contributory
        negligence of the driver of the bus and the deceased scooterist.



     7. On the other hand,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the  respondents
        vehemently contended that the High Court was justified in coming to
        the aforesaid conclusion of modifying the compensation  so  awarded
        as well as not taking cognizance of the testimony of PW-3 Lekh Ram.





     8. We have gone through  the  material  placed  on  record  and  heard
        learned counsel for the parties.



     9. It is not in dispute that the deceased was  the  only  son  of  his
        parents, i.e., the appellants herein.  It is also  not  in  dispute
        that when the collusion between the scooter and the bus took  place
        on the fateful day at a place known as  Nabahi,  the  deceased  was
        driving scooter on his left side towards Sarkaghat from Mandi side.
         Admittedly, at the site where there was a curve,  the  bus  driver
        did not blow the horn and the bus was being driven at a  very  high
        speed.  All this is corroborated from the testimony  of  PW-3  Lekh
        Ram, who is stated to be an eye witness to  the  accident  and  not
        related to the deceased scooterist.



   10.To prove the contributory negligence, there must  be cogent  evidence.
   In the instant case, there is no specific  evidence  to  prove  that  the
   accident has taken place  due  to  rash  and  negligent  driving  of  the
   deceased scooterist.  In the absence of any cogent evidence to prove  the
   plea of contributory negligence, the said doctrine of common  law  cannot
   be applied in the present case.  We are,  thus,  of  the  view  that  the
   reasoning given by the High Court  has  no  basis  and  the  compensation
   awarded by the  Tribunal  was  just  and  reasonable  in  the  facts  and
   circumstances of the case.


   11.In view of above, we allow  the  appeal.   Accordingly,  the  impugned
   judgment of the High Court dated  27.03.2006  is set aside and the award
   of the Tribunal dated 01.07.20013 is upheld, with no orders as to costs.


                                             .............C.J.I.
                                             (P. Sathasivam)






                                                         .................J.
                                             (Ranjan Gogoi)






                                             .................J.
                                             (N.V. Ramana)
New Delhi;
March 10, 2014.

C.A.No.5764 of 2008



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