& Ors Vs. Balkrishna & Ors  Insc 317 (25 July 2003)
Balakrishnan & P. Venkatarama Reddi.
out of SLP(Civil) No. 2901/2002) K.G. Balakrishnan, J.
claimants in a motor accident claim are appellants before us. They are the
legal heirs of one Rajashekhar Kasture who died in a motor accident.
deceased Rajashekhar Kasture was aged about 24 years at the time of his death.
He was employed as a Munim in Avinash and Co. On 20.7.1996, when he was travelling
in a lorry to bring sugar for his employer, the lorry met with an accident and
he fell down and died on the spot.
claimants preferred claim contending that he was the only earning member and
was earning Rs. 3000/- p.m. The respondent No. 2 namely, the lorry owner
contended that the deceased was working only as a office boy and was having a
salary of Rs. 600/- p.m. To support his plea, RW1, the owner of the company was
also examined. The Tribunal after considering the evidence on either side held
that the salary of the deceased must have been around Rs. 1200/- p.m. and by
deducting 1/3rd for his personal expenses, the monthly dependency of the
claimants must have been Rs. 800/- p.m. Taking the annual income as Rs. 9600/-,
the total compensation was fixed at Rs. 1,53,600/- and an award was passed in favour
of the claimants. Aggrieved by the same, the second respondent preferred an
appeal before the High Court of Karnataka and the High Court reduced the
compensation to Rs. 81,600/- under the heading 'loss of dependancy'. The
Judgment of the High Court is challenged before us.
heard learned Counsel on either side. The High Court considered the evidence of
RW1, the partner of the Avinash and Company with whom the deceased was
employed. RW1 deposed that the monthly salary of the deceased was Rs. 600/-.
RW1 had chosen to produce some receipts purportedly signed by the deceased but
he cleverly withheld the salary register maintained by the company for the
relevant period. The receipts were not originally produced but later he
produced them and the Tribunal rightly declined to take note of the same.
During the time of cross-examination, he admitted that the persons who were
similarly employed were being paid Rs. 1,500/- p.m. It is also difficult to
believe that the company would employ a person with such a meagre amount of Rs.
600/- p.m. It may also be noticed that the company under the management of RW1
was having 4 to 5 lorries and about 30 workers were employed under them. He
must have been keeping some documents in respect of payment of salary to his
workers but such documents were not produced. The Tribunal had considered the
evidence in detail and came to a rational conclusion regarding the income of
the deceased. The learned Single Judge without considering the evidence of RW1
simply brushed aside the whole evidence and accepted the statement of RW1
solely on the ground that the employer himself had spoken regarding the salary
and it must have been taken as correct. This approach made by the High Court is
not at all justified having regard to the entire facts and circumstances of the
case. The High Court, on flimsy reasons, interfered with the award passed by
the Tribunal. The compensation awarded by the Tribunal was just and reasonable.
result, we allow the appeal preferred by the claimants and set aside the
Judgment of the learned Single Judge. If the appellants have not been paid the
amount, the same shall be paid as directed in the award by the Tribunal within
two months. There will be no order as to costs.