Pandey Vs. Khalil Ahmad  INSC 307 (10 May 1994)
Singh (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Hansaria B.L. (J)
1994 AIR 2405 1994 SCC (4) 207 JT 1994 (4) 55 1994 SCALE (2)989
Judgment of the Court was delivered by KULDIP SINGH, J.- Special leave granted.
Kishore Pandey while coming home on a cycle from work was run over by car No.
UPC 8527 on 3-3-1970 and died almost instantaneously. He
was 29 years of age. He left behind his widow Urmilla Devi and two minor children
who were infants. Almost a quarter century has passed by but the unfortunate
widow and the orphan children have not as yet been paid a single penny by way
Pandey widow of Ram Kishore Pandey filed a claim petition before the Motor
Accident Claims Tribunal, Allahabad claiming Rs 1, 1 7,747.70 as compensation
on account of the death of her husband in the car accident.
Ahmad, the driver of the car; Ram Kishan (dead) 209 through his son Purshottam
alias Balwa, the owner of the car; M/s Chandra Financiers; and the New India
Assurance Company were impleaded as respondents before the Tribunal.
Tribunal came to the conclusion that the accident took place on account of the
car being driven rashly and negligently by Khalil Ahmad, the driver of the car.
While assessing the compensation the Tribunal held that the age of 58 years at
which the deceased would have retired be taken as the life expectancy of the
deceased. The Tribunal further found that the deceased was drawing Rs 259.10 as
his salary deducting 1/3rd for maintaining himself he was spending the
remaining amount of Rs 175 per month on his family. Taking the annual amount to
be Rs 2100 and multiplying the same by 29, the Tribunal reached the figure of Rs
60,000. Making a deduction for the lump sum payment at the rate of 33 per cent,
the Tribunal awarded Rs 40,600 as compensation to the family. The Tribunal,
however, found that there was no material on the record to prove that the car
was insured with the respondent-company. The Tribunal by order dated 9-5-1979
dismissed the claim against the financier and the insurance company and passed
a decree for Rs 40,600 against Purshottam son of late Ram Kishan.
Pandey and the two children filed appeal against the award of the Tribunal
before the Allahabad High Court. Appeal against Respondents 1 and 2 (the
financier and insurance company) was dismissed on 4-11-1981 for want of steps
to serve notice on them. A Division Bench of the High Court heard the appeal
against Respondents 3 and 4 (owner and driver) on 4-1-1989. The learned Judges
declined to set aside the earlier order dismissing the appeal against
Respondents 1 and 2 and on further hearing upheld the findings of the Tribunal
against the financier and the insurance company. The High Court dealt with the
appeal in a cursory manner.
This Court on 9-8-1989, passed the following order:
spite of service of notice the Respondent 2, owner of the vehicle, has not
owner is directed to deposit the compensation amount of Rs 40,600 in the claims
Tribunal within six weeks from today, failing which the entire amount shall be
recovered as affairs of land revenue and when the money is in deposit, 50%
thereof shall be permitted to be withdrawn by the petitioner without furnishing
any security. The CMP is disposed of." Despite the above-quoted order of
this Court, the owner of the vehicle did not deposit any amount before the
appellant in IA No. 2 of 1990 has stated that the owner has pleaded bankruptcy.
The matter was also taken up by the Lok Adalat on 19-11-1989 when it was held in the premises of this Court.
Unfortunately, no relief was granted to the appellant even by the Lok Adalat.
This Court on 12-11-1990 issued notice to the New India
Assurance Company Ltd. calling upon the company to show cause why the Company
should not be made to pay the award- money. On 6-9-1993, this Court passed the following order:
"The respondents to take notice as to why the compensation awarded by the
courts below be not enhanced. The learned counsel for the Insurance Company
seeks a short adjournment.
listed on 24-9-1993, indicating that the matter may be
finally disposed of on that date."
Meanwhile, learned counsel for the appellants placed before this Court an
insurance cover note No. A-8351 dated 30-12-1969 which shows that the vehicle
involved in the accident was insured with the Premier Insurance Company
Limited/and the Canara Motor and General Insurance Company.
Court on 1- 10- 1993 passed the following order:
counsel for the petitioners has brought before us an insurance cover dated 30- 12-1969 from which it is obvious that the vehicle involved
in the accident was insured with the Premier Insurance Co. Ltd. It is not disputed
that the said company finally merged with the New India Assurance Company. A
copy of this cover note has been handed over to the learned counsel for the New
India Assurance Company. He seeks short adjournment to seek instructions and
also to produce further documents in this respect, if available, in the records
of the Company. The matter is adjourned to 15-10-1993." The learned counsel for the
New India Assurance Company has stated before us that the Company is not in a
position to trace the insurance cover or any connected documents from its
insurance cover note No. A-8351 dated 30-12-1969 shows the names of the owners of
car UPC 8527 as M/s Chandra Financiers and Ram Kishan. In the cover the authorised
insurer are shown to be the Premier Insurance Company limited and the Canara
Motor and General Insurance Company Limited. It is no doubt correct that the
cover note placed before us almost 25 years after the accident may not by
itself be sufficient to make the insurance company liable to pay the
award-money but there is contemporaneous evidence on the record to show that
the cover note is genuine.
filed an application (96-C) before the Tribunal on 20-4-1979 wherein he stated that the car- purchased by his father
under the hire-purchase agreement was insured with "Canara Motor and
General Insurance Company Limited".
said application was, however, rejected by the Tribunal on the ground that no
affidavit in support of the said application was filed. The Tribunal should
have called upon the insurance company to produce the necessary documents.
of the view that the Tribunal failed in its duty to judiciously investigate and
adjudicate the claim filed by the appellants.
is no doubt correct that initially the owner had produced certificate of
insurance (KN-541) issued by the Northern India Insurance Company. In the said
certificate, the names of two persons to whom the financier had earlier given
the vehicle were mentioned. The Tribunal rejected the certificate on the short
ground that unless the certificate of insurance is transferred in favour of Ram
Kishan, before the accident took place, no 211 contract between Ram Kishan and
the insurance company could have come into existence. It is not disputed that
the car purchased by Ram Kishan was a second-hand car. The insurance cover
produced before us clearly mentions that it was a second-hand car. Originally
as a new car it was given to some other persons who had got it insured with the
Northern India Insurance Company. When the financier transferred the vehicle in
the name of Ram Kishan he must have given the original insurance certificate
along with the vehicle to Ram Kishan. That is how initially in the proceedings
before the Tribunal the insurance certificate (KN-541) was produced. Later on, Purshottam
moved an application before the Tribunal bringing it to the notice of the
Tribunal that his father Ram Kishan had got the vehicle insured with the "Canara
Motor and General Insurance Company Limited". It seems that instead of
having the original insurance cover transferred in his name, Ram Kishan got the
car insured afresh with the Premier Insurance Company Limited and the Canara
Motor and General Insurance Company Limited. It was a comprehensive cover. It
is not disputed that the Premier Insurance Company Limited finally merged with
the New India Assurance Company.
are satisfied that the car with Registration No. UPC 8527 was insured with the
Premier Insurance Company Limited and Canara Motor and General Insurance Company
Limited. The New India Assurance Company, respondent in the appeal herein,
being the successor of the said companies is liable to pay the award-money as
The Tribunal has grossly erred in computing the compensation amount. The Tribunal
was not justified in assuming the life expectancy to be 58. It could not be
less than 65 even at that point of time. The Tribunal also fell into error in
making 33% deduction for the lump sum payment.
matter of fact, no payment till date has been received by the unfortunate
family. The amount of Rs 40,600 awarded by the Tribunal is quite low. Without
going into various heads under which the appellants could be compensated, we
are of the view, that in order to do complete justice between the parties, the
appellants be awarded Rs 1,20,000 (rounding off the figure of Rs 1,17,747.70 paise
as claimed by the appellants). We order accordingly. On the amount of Rs 1,20,000
the appellants shall be entitled to 12 per cent per annum interest from the
date of the application before the Tribunal. The total amount shall be paid by
the insurance company to Urmilla Pandey, the widow, on her behalf and on behalf
of her two children within three months from today. In case the amount is not
paid within the period of three months, the insurance company shall be liable
to pay interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum thereafter. The amount
shall be paid by way of a demand draft in the name of Urmilla Pandey.
allow the appeal, set aside the High Court judgment and modify the award of the
Tribunal in the above terms.
appellants shall be entitled to costs which we quantify as Rs 5000 to be paid
by the insurance company.