National Insurance Company Ltd. … vs Chamundeswari on 1 October, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

National Insurance Company Ltd. … vs Chamundeswari on 1 October, 2021

Author: R. Subhash Reddy

Bench: R. Subhash Reddy, Hrishikesh Roy

                 [email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019



                                                                                 REPORTABLE

                                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                         CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                         CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6151 OF 2021
                         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.4705 of 2019)




                      National Insurance Company Ltd.                          ...Appellant


                                                         versus


                      Chamundeswari & Ors.                              ...Respondent(s)



                                                J U D G M E N T

R.SUBHASH REDDY,J.

1. Leave granted.

2. This appeal is filed by National Insurance

Company Ltd. (3rd Respondent before the High

Court), aggrieved by the judgment and order dated

03.08.2018, passed by the High Court of
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Rachna
Date: 2021.10.01
Judicature at Madras in CMA No.1204 of 2018. By
15:10:07 IST
Reason:

the aforesaid order, the High Court has partly

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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

allowed the Civil Miscellaneous Appeal filed by

the Respondent Nos. 1 and 2, by enhancing

compensation to Rs.1,85,08,832/-.

3. The 1st Respondent is wife and the 2nd

Respondent is minor son of the deceased Mr.

Subhash Babu, who died in a road accident on

14.10.2013. The deceased Mr. Subhash Babu, aged

about 35 years was working as Manager HR in a

Private Limited Company. On the date of accident,

he was driving Maruti car bearing No.DL-2C-P-5414

on NH-47 – main road from Perumanallur to Erode.

At that time, the Eicher van bearing Registration

No.TN-33-AZ-5868 was proceeding in front of the

car driven by the deceased. It is the case of the

respondents–claimants that all of a sudden, the

driver of Eicher van has turned towards right

side without giving any signal or indicator. In

the said accident, driver of the Maruti car, Mr.

Subhash Babu, died and other passengers in the

car i.e. 1st Respondent–wife, 2nd Respondent–minor

son and sister of the 1st Respondent, suffered

injuries.

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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

4. In the Claim Petition, filed by the

Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 before the Motor Accident

Claims Tribunal / Additional District Court,

Tiruppur, respondents claimed compensation of

Rs.3 crores. The respondents pleaded negligence

on the part of the driver of Eicher van as he has

taken right turn without giving any signal or

indicator, as such, accident occurred only due to

negligence of driver of Eicher van. The appellant

and others have appeared before the Claims

Tribunal and opposed the claim. The Claims

Tribunal vide order dated 11.12.2017 passed in

M.C.O.P. No.842 of 2014 has allowed the claim

partly and awarded compensation of Rs.10,40,500/-

with a finding that there was a contributory

negligence on the part of drivers of both the

vehicles in ratio of 75% and 25% on the part of

the deceased and the driver of Eicher van

respectively. On appeal, the High Court by

recording a finding that accident occurred only

due to the negligence of the driver of the Eicher

van and the annual income of the deceased was

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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

Rs.12,29,949/-, has awarded a total compensation

of Rs.1,85,08,832/-, including the compensation

on conventional heads. Aggrieved by the judgment

and order of the High Court, the Insurance

Company filed this Appeal before this Court.

5. We have heard Mr. K. K. Bhat, learned counsel

appearing for the Appellant–Insurance Company and

Mr. V. Balaji, learned counsel appearing for the

Respondents–Claimants.

6. The submission of the learned counsel for the

appellant is twofold. Firstly, it is submitted

that though the Tribunal has correctly

apportioned the negligence on the part of the

deceased and the driver of Eicher van, the same

was overturned by the High Court, contrary to the

evidence on record. Mainly it is contended that

in the First Information Report, it was

categorically mentioned that accident occurred

only due to negligence by the deceased. In spite

of the same, such important documentary evidence

is ignored by the High Court. The learned counsel

in support of his arguments placed reliance on

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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

the judgments of this Court in the case of

Oriental Insurance Company Limited v. Premlata

Shukla and Others1 and in the case of Nishan Singh

and Others v. Oriental Insurance Company Limited2.

It is, further, submitted by the learned counsel

that the compensation awarded by the High Court

is exorbitant in absence of any acceptable

evidence on record to show income of the

deceased, as pleaded in the Claim Petition.

7. On the other hand, Mr. V. Balaji, learned

counsel for the respondents submitted that the

accident occurred only due to the sheer

negligence on the part of the driver of Eicher

van. It is submitted that the deceased was

driving Maruti car and ahead of them the Eicher

van was proceeding and the driver of the said van

turned towards right side without any signal or

indicator and the said lapse resulted in the

accident. It is, further, submitted that the

deceased was working as Manager HR in a Private

Limited Company and was earning a sum of

1
2007 (13) SCC 476
2
2018 (6) SCC 765
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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

Rs.1,33,070/- per month, in spite of the same,

the High Court has taken income of the deceased

at Rs.12,29,949/- per annum and awarded the

compensation. It is submitted that in view of the

oral and the documentary evidence on record, a

just compensation is awarded by the High Court

and there are no grounds to interfere with the

same.

8. It is clear from the evidence on record of

PW–1 as well as PW–3 that the Eicher van which

was going in front of the car, has taken a sudden

right turn without giving any signal or

indicator. The evidence of PW–1 & PW–3 is

categorical and in absence of any rebuttal

evidence by examining the driver of Eicher van,

the High Court has rightly held that the accident

occurred only due to the negligence of the driver

of Eicher van. It is to be noted that PW–1

herself travelled in the very car and PW–3, who

has given statement before the police, was

examined as eye–witness. In view of such evidence

on record, there is no reason to give weightage

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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

to the contents of the First Information Report.

If any evidence before the Tribunal runs contrary

to the contents in the First Information Report,

the evidence which is recorded before the

Tribunal has to be given weightage over the

contents of the First Information Report. In the

judgment, relied on by the appellant’s counsel in

the case of Oriental Insurance Company Limited v.

Premlata Shukla and Others1, this Court has held

that proof of rashness and negligence on the part

of the driver of the vehicle, is therefore, sine

qua non for maintaining an application under

Section 166 of the Act. In the said judgment, it

is held that the factum of an accident could also

be proved from the First Information Report. In

the judgment in the case of Nishan Singh and

Others v. Oriental Insurance Company Limited2,

this Court has held, on facts, that the car of

the appellant therein, which crashed into truck

which was proceeding in front of the same, was

driven negligently by not maintaining sufficient

distance as contemplated under Road Regulations,

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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

framed under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Whether

driver of the vehicle was negligent or not, there

cannot be any straitjacket formula. Each case is

judged having regard to facts of the case and

evidence on record. Having regard to evidence in

the present case on hand, we are of the view that

both the judgments relied on by the learned

counsel for the appellant, would not render any

assistance in support of his case.

9. Even with regard to quantum of compensation,

it is clear from the judgment of the High Court

that the accident occurred on 14.10.2013, the

High Court has correctly taken into account the

salary disclosed by the deceased in Form–16 for

the Financial Year 2012-2013 and income of the

deceased is taken as Rs.12,29,949/- per annum for

the purpose of determination of loss of

dependency. Though, it was the claim of the

respondents–claimants that the deceased was

earning Rs.1,33,070/- per month, the same was not

accepted and the High Court itself assessed the

income of the deceased at Rs.12,29,949/- per

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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

annum. As the deceased was in permanent job and

having regard to age of the deceased on the date

of the accident, the future prospects and the

multiplier were correctly applied by the High

Court, which is in conformity with the judgment

of this Court in the Case of Sarla Verma (Smt)

and Others v. Delhi Transport Corporation and

Another3 and also in the case of National

Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi and

Others4. Even the amount of compensation on other

conventional heads is awarded correctly by the

High Court. For the aforesaid reasons, we do not

find any merit in this Civil Appeal and the same

is accordingly dismissed with no order as to

costs.

10. While issuing notice, this Court vide order

dated 18.02.2019 granted stay of enforcement of

the impugned judgment, subject to condition of

depositing the lumpsum compensation of Rs.25

Lakhs before the Tribunal with a direction to

deposit the same in an interest earning Fixed

3
2009 (6) SCC 121
4
2017 (16) SCC 680
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[email protected] SLP(C) No.4705 of 2019

Deposit in a Nationalised bank. The said amount

shall be paid to the respondents–claimants with

accrued interest. The balance amount payable by

the appellant–Insurance Company shall be paid

within a period of two months from today.

………………………………………………………J
(R. SUBHASH REDDY)

………………………………………………………J
(HRISHIKESH ROY)

NEW DELHI;

October 01, 2021

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