P&H HC | Legal representatives of deceased can maintain application under S. 166 of Motor Vehicles Act

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Kuldip Singh, J. modified the claim allowed by the Tribunal on the ground that the deceased was maintaining her family.

An appeal was filed by the claimant against the award made by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Karnal.

Facts of the case were that car accident took place which was driven by Jagdish Lal Ahuja i.e. Claimant 1 at very moderate speed. When they reached downside the railway overbridge a jeep being driven by Respondent 1 came at a very fast speed in a rash and negligent manner from the opposite side. Respondent 1 could not control the Jeep and hit the motorcycle of one Sandep Kumar and then Trax Jeep lost the control and hit the car. Deceased received multiple injuries. She succumbed to the injuries at Civil Hospital, Karnal. It was claimed that the deceased was earning Rs 16,000 to Rs 20,000 per month. Because of the death of the deceased, the claimants were deprived of the income of the deceased. In the reply, the respondent denied the fact that the accident took place due to the negligence of the jeep driver. The insurance company also denied the claim. The Tribunal held that the accident took place due to rash and negligent driving of the driver of the jeep but the Tribunal relied upon the income tax return for the year 2002-2003 and applied the multiplier of 8 and ordered the compensation amount accordingly. Thus aggrieved by the order of compensation an appeal was preferred by the claimant.

High Court opined that the Tribunal erred in discarding the income tax return for the year 2002-2003 only on the ground that it was filed after the death of the deceased. The Tribunal did not appreciate that the income tax authorities did not accept this return to be correct. The court also opined that as deceased was about 55 years old at the time of the accident, the multiplier of nine was to be applied. On the question that the dependents were eligible for the compensation, reliance was placed upon the case of Gujarat SRTC v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai, 1987 AIR (SC) 1690, in which various observations were made to press that the claimants being legal heir are entitled to compensations. It was further opined that as it cannot be assumed that unit is still running and as there was a loss of management on account of the death of the deceased who was looking after the entire affair and was supporting the family the multiplier of 9  should be applied. Thus the claim of Rs 11,95,000 was ordered to be payable along with the interest at 7.5 percent.[Jagdish Lal v. Ram Chander, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1175, decided on 11-07-2019]

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