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M.A. Rahim and Anr. Versus Sayari Bai

1969 (4) TMI 120 - Madras High Court

Order No. 154 of 1969 - Dated:- 10-4-1969 - A. Rama Murthi and N. Krishnaswamy Reddy, JJ. For the Appellants: M.A. Rahim and Anr. Versus For the Respondent: Sayari Bai JUDGMENT A. Rama Murthi, J. 1. This appeal has been preferred against the decision of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (hereinafter called 'the Tribunal') against the decision awarding a sum of ₹ 25,000/- as compensation payable to one Sayari Bai, the respondent in this appeal and the claimant before the Tribunal .....

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r compensation under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). She claimed compensation of ₹ 70,000/- and ₹ 5,000/- for expenses, pain and suffering. The Tribunal awarded a sum of ₹ 25,000/-. In support of her case, the father of the boy and one Doraiswami Iyengar, a retired teacher of the school, were examined as witnesses, while on the other side the bus driver, the conductor and the Joint Regional Transport Officer were examined. P.W. 2, t .....

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ness to make out that the driver of the bus was not negligent and that the accident occurred on account of the negligence of the boy suddenly running across the bus or at the rear side of the bus. In the counter of the bus owner it was stated that the accident occurred because the boy suddenly darted across the road and got himself involved in the accident and that the accident was due to the negligence of the boy. Virtually the second defendant adopted the counter of the first respondent. In th .....

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y between the evidence of R. W. 1 and R. W. 2 as well as the discrepancy revealed in the evidence of R. W. 2 who gave evidence in the criminal case in which the bus driver was prosecuted. From the evidence it is clear that the driver was clearly guilty of gross negligence and rashness in driving the bus. The area is a school zone and just at the time the boys were coming out of the school and therefore the bus driver should have been extremely cautious and careful and mere regulation of speed by .....

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speed and without any care and caution, which resulted in the death of boy. We have perused the evidence of the bus driver and the conductor and we have no hesitation to say that their evidence is unreliable. The inspection report of the Motor Vehicles Inspector, which contains a plan attached, also tends to the same inference that death was not due to the boy's dashing against the rear portion of the bus, but it was a clear case of the bus running over the boy. If the accident occurred in .....

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us by the driver without taking any care or caution in the matter. 2. On the question of the quantum of compensation, the learned counsel for both sides invited our attention to several decisions. Learned Counsel addressed arguments based upon a comparative statement as revealed in the several decisions cited with reference to the victim's age at the time of his death, the age of the claimant, if the victim had been in employment, what salary or remuneration he was earning, the prospect in t .....

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the Tribunal exercising jurisdiction under Section 110-B of the Motor Vehicles Act, newly introduced. Section 110-B does not lay down any condition as to the manner of the exercise of jurisdiction by the tribunal and all that it states is that it has to hold an enquiry into the claim and make an award determining the amount of compensation which appears to it to be just. The use of the expression 'just' which is very wide and comprehensive in its import is of vital importance while adjud .....

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claims for compensation in respect of claims arising out of motor vehicles accidents. Special claims tribunals have been constituted and a special procedure has been laid down in the Act for the adjudication of such claims. Section 110-F bars the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts to entertain any question relating to any claims for compensation arising out of motor vehicles accidents for which special provision has been made in the Act. When this special procedure was introduced in 1956, a wealt .....

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ured or influenced by certain technical rules and principles evolved from a long course of decisions and is beset with various difficulties, doubts, contingencies and uncertainties and to a large extent the determination of compensation is a work of estimate, balancing the relative weight of several elements which enter into the computation. The precedents while enunciating that the Court has ample latitude in the matter have at the same time laid down certain technical rules in the form of guid .....

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claim and determine the amount of compensation which should be 'just'. Our attention was drawn to certain decisions arising out of the claims under the Motor Vehicles Act as amended in 1956 revealing a divergence of view on the question whether the newly introduced provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act are self contained and constitute an exhaustive machinery or whether the ultimate liability should be determined only in accordance with the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act and the pr .....

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Accidents Act. 3. We may refer to the recent Bench decision of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh reported in Kamaladevi v. Kishan Chand, AIR 1970 MP 168 , in which it was held that Sections 110 to 110-F of the Motor Vehicles Act do not deal with the liability at all, that they only provide a new mode of enforcement of liability in respect of accidents, that so far as the liability is concerned, the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act and the law of Torts would still apply and that the provision .....

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to be just' are wider in scope than the words used in the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act and the tribunal is not bound by the technical rules and the limitations evolved in the case law in the interpretation and the application of the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act. The reasoning of the Bench is that the provisions in Sections 110 to 110-F do not enter into the field of the law of liability which would still continue to be governed by the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act a .....

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al has to award such compensation as may be 'just' and that the tribunal need not strictly follow the decisions under the Fatal Accidents Act. The attention of the Bench was not drawn to the earlier decision. The Bench observed that the expression 'just' in Section 110-B is wide in ambit than the words used in Sections 1-A and 2 of the Fatal Accidents Act and that the tribunal has to only consider what appears to it to be just compensation and it need not strictly follow and appl .....

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refer to the Bench decision of this court consisting of Anantanarayanan, C. J. and Ramakrishann, J. reported AIR1967Mad123 in which the Bench observed that Sections 110 to 110-F of the Motor Vehicles Act are self-contained Code providing for compensation and the machinery of adjudication in cases of motor accidents and that the provision in the Act has no connection with the Fatal Accidents Act and it cannot be contended that a claim under the Motor Vehicles Act should be governed by the provisi .....

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led to make the claim, i.e., whether the class of persons covered by Sections 110-A to 110-F is the same as the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act. The question which the Bench had to decide was whether the expression 'representative' in the Fatal Accidents Act means the same thing as the same word used in Sec. 110-A of Motor Vehicles Act and the Bench held that the expression 'legal representatives' in the Motor Vehicles Act is used in the general sense and not in the restric .....

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40 (pages 189 and 190). With respect, we agree with the view taken in the decision of the Delhi High Court. The provisions newly introduced, Secs. 110 to 110-F purport to consolidate and amend the law relating to claims arising out of the motor accidents and are intended to provide a quicker and speedier remedy by way of application before the claims' tribunal. These provisions are self-contained and exhaustive. Further, as already observed, the case law rendered under the general law of To .....

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lems which the courts have solved in assessing the compensation in each case. Winfield on Tort, 8th Edition, at page 627, in the paragraph under the caption 'Criticism of the existing law' has observed that the law is still not entirely satisfactory and that the Court must discharge a solemn duty (go through the solemn farce of putting a value on such an incalculable thing). It is because of this reason that the Indian Legislature did not want to incorporate the provisions of the Fatal A .....

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ings and its meaning is often governed by the context. 'Just' may apply in nearly all of its sense, either to ethics or law, denoting something which is morally right and fair and sometimes that which is right and fair according to positive law. It connotes reasonableness and something conforming to rectitude and justice, something equitable, fair (vide page 1100 of volume 50 Corpus Juris Secundum). At page 438 of Words and Phrases, edited by West Publishing Co., Vol. 23, the true meanin .....

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as probable, reasonable. Kinney's Law Dictionary defines 'just' as fair, adequate, reasonable, probable; and justa causa as a just cause, a lawful ground. Vide Bregman v. Kress, 81 NYS 1072," Again, at page 437 of the same book, it is stated- "Instruction that plaintiff in action for personal injury had burden of proving by preponderance of the evidence that his claim is just, and that he is entitled to recover, was erroneous, as a just claim is not always a legal claim th .....

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9;just and expedient' has been explained by the courts, because the word 'just' will take its colour from the main purpose and object of the enactment, Further, as observed by Rajamannar, C. J., in V. G. Row v. State of Madras, AIR 1951 Mad 147, "Even ideas of what is just differ from age to age. What may seem to be just to one man in one age may appear to another man in another age totally differently". It is enough to hold that the word ' just' in Section 110-B of .....

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ndered under the general law of Torts and under the Fatal Accidents Act will undoubtedly be relevant and constitute broad guidelines, but they would not be binding upon the Tribunal in the sense that the method of approach should be the same and identical as in the cases arising under the Fatal Accidents Act. 7. In the instant case, on the question of compensation, there is the evidence of P.W. 1, the father of the victim, which has been accepted by the Tribunal. There is no contra rebutting evi .....

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ut him in a Convent School giving him the best education even to start with. The boy was a healthy boy and was first in the rank in school. 8. P.W. 1 was carrying on money lending business. There can be no doubt whatever that the boy would have a predominantly happy life if this tragedy had not occurred. There is nothing in the family environment to detract, in any manner, from the full prospects of a predominantly happy life. He would have had no problems or difficulties to worry him. One can e .....

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the tribunal had taken all the relevant aspects and if it had not taken into consideration any irrelevant or extraneous matter, and no error of law or principle had been committed by the Tribunal, the appellate Court will not interfere merely because it may differ on the question of the quantum. It is obvious, there is no exact uniform rule for measuring the value of the human life and the measure of damages cannot be arrived at in precise mathematical calculation, but the amount recoverable dep .....

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parents on the dependents; in the nature of things, no guidelines in the abstract can be laid down. 9. As regards the measure of liability in the case of motor accidents, the decisions of the Supreme Court reported in Gobald Motor Service v. Velusami, [1962]1 SCR 929 and C. K. S. Iyer v. T. K. Nair, [1970]2 SCR 688 have (after a discussion of all the leading decisions in England) laid down the main principles. Both the decisions did not have to consider the measure of liability under Section 11 .....

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d the claim ants would be entitled to recover compensation separately under both the heads. If, however, the person who takes benefit under Section 1 happens to be the same person as entitled to compensation under Section 2, there cannot be duplication of the dame claim and the compensation awarded under Section 2 for the loss of the estate of the deceased will be taken into account in the calculation of the compensation payable to the claimants under Section 1. In both the decisions of the Supr .....

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cuniary benefit from the continuance of the life. Reference may be made to the following classical statement of the law by Lord Atkinson at page 7 in 1913 AC 1 referred to in the decisions of the Supreme Court: - "In 1913 AC 1, the Judicial Committee observed that it is not a condition precedent to the maintenance of an action under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1846 that the deceased should have been actually earning money or money's worth or contributing to the support of the plaintiff at .....

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can reasonably be drawn; but I wish to express by emphatic dissent from the proposition that it is necessary that two of the facts without which the inference cannot be drawn are, first, that the deceased earned money in the past, and second, that he or she contributed to the support of the plaintiff. These are, no doubt, pregnant pieces of evidence, but they are only pieces of evidence; and the necessary inference can I think be drawn from circumstances other than and different from them.' .....

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ved at by precise mathematical calculations but the amount recoverable depends on the particular facts and circumstances of each case. The life expectancy of the deceased or of the beneficiaries whichever is shorter is an important factor. Since the elements which go to make up the value of the life of the deceased to the designated beneficiaries are necessarily personal to each case, in the very nature of things, there can be no exact or uniform rule for measuring the value of human life. In as .....

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urbing the findings reached by the courts below, if they have taken all the relevant facts into consideration. "Now applying the above rules to the facts of the present case, it is seen that the deceased child was only 8 years old at the time of his death. How he would have turned out in life later is at best a guess. But there was a reasonable probability of his becoming a successful man in life as he was a bright boy in the school and his parents could have afforded him a good education. .....

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SC 1624 even though the case arose out of a claim under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, the Supreme Court discussed the problem with reference to the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act, leaving open the question whether the power conferred upon the Tribunal under Section 110-B of the Act is wider. 10. It is unnecessary to refer to the several cases cited by counsel on both sides as the determination of compensation turns upon the particular facts of each case. The result of the case .....

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a life of despondence or an insipid life. Even though it depends upon very many uncertain factors, the Tribunal has to take an overall picture and form its estimate though, to some extent, it must be based upon speculation. (2) The pecuniary loss sustained by the persons entitled to claim compensation as a result of the accident. In determining the pecuniary loss, say, the age of the boy at the time of his death, the age of the parents and the prospects of the boy contributing his earnings to th .....

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evaluated with reference to several considerations and the pecuniary loss to the family will be the pecuniary loss to the mother herself on the facts of this particular case, when the family consists only of the father, the mother and the son. In some of the decisions, it is seen that the courts have taken rather a pessimistic view of the future prospects of the young boy who met with the accident, on the ground that no one can be certain about the child's future or correctly estimate his f .....

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eat interest in shaping the career of the boy and in his prospects. If the value is to be ascertained with reference to the bright prospect of a predominantly happy life, it will at once be realised that that does not necessarily depend upon the wealth or status of the family alone. As Sellers L. J. pointed out in Wise v. Kaye 1962 1 All ER 257, "Wealth and fine physique clearly do not ensure happiness, nor do poverty or disablement necessarily entail unhappiness." In Garcia v. Harland .....

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y means at the outside, I suppose something under 20 years." In Oliver v. Ashman, 1961 3 All ER 323 affirming the decision reported in 1960 3 All Er 677, a boy aged 20 months sustained serious brain injuries as a result of a motor accident and he became mentally unable to talk or to understand what was said to him. In the special circumstances of the case, the award of £.11,000 was confirmed by the appellate Court. In that case it was observed that the victim was entitled to compensat .....

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less than in the case of a person who has enjoyed life and amenities and knows that he has lost them. The trouble, however, is to put that into money. There are so many imponderables, especially in the case of such a young child. As far as loss of earnings is concerned, the considerations involved again cannot easily be put into pounds, shillings and pence. Here against, there are imponderables. What education would the parents have been able to give the child? If not, how far would the child su .....

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n in all the circumstances, I would award to this child a sum of £. 11,000..............." In the appeal from that decision, reported in 1960 3 All ER 323, Holroyd Pearce L. J., while adverting to the difficult task in assessing the value of the loss of expectation of a predominantly happy life, observed that the assessment of such a claim involves an investigation in detail of the temperament and health of the victim, his expectation of life and his expectation of material prosperity .....

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go to make the final figure have been scrupulously weighed in the judgment. We can only alter it if we are satisfied that it is a wholly erroneous estimate of the damage, if we are satisfied that, broadly speaking there is only one reasonable answer to the problem and that the learned Judge has failed to give it. One cannot seek for precision or certainty in many cases which are tried by the courts in their anxious task of weighing imponderables. Often, there is a norm, whether established by co .....

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igure or for that. One can merely assert. I myself would feel inclined towards a larger figure, but the learned Lord Chief Justice and my brethren all think otherwise. I can give no adequate reason to support a higher figure or to show that on figure is righter than the other. There is no norm by which one can say that this figure is right and the other wrong. To say in Shelley's words, 'I cannot argue I can only feel' may be permitted in a jury-man but it is rarely a sound foundatio .....

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would be more right than the figure awarded by the Tribunal. It is unnecessary to discuss the matter further; the appellate Court would be slow to interfere with the verdict of the Tribunal, as it is inevitable that in assessing the damages, elements of estimate and to some extent, conjecture and a balancing of chances and changes of fortune enter into the computation of the quantum. The appellate Court would interfere only if it is satisfied that the result reached was out of all proportion to .....

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