Civil Appeal Nos. 4945-4946 of 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 20557-20558 of 2007), Civil Appeal No. 4947 of 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 16078 of 2008) and Civil Appeal No. 4948 of 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 15992 of 2008). Case: 1. Jiju Kuruvila and Ors., 2. The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. Vs 1. Kunjujamma Mohan and Ors., 2. Smt. Chinnamma Joy and Ors.. Supreme Court

Case Number:Civil Appeal Nos. 4945-4946 of 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 20557-20558 of 2007), Civil Appeal No. 4947 of 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 16078 of 2008) and Civil Appeal No. 4948 of 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 15992 of 2008)
Party Name:1. Jiju Kuruvila and Ors., 2. The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. Vs 1. Kunjujamma Mohan and Ors., 2. Smt. Chinnamma Joy and Ors.
Counsel:For Appellant: C.N. Sree Kumar, Prakash Ranjan Nayak and Reshmita R. Chandraw, Advs. and For Respondents: Manjeet Chawal and A. Raghunath, Advs.
Judges:G.S. Singhvi and Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, JJ.
Issue:Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 - Sections 140, 166; Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973; Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Oaths and Fees) Act, 1948 - Section 3; Indian Penal Code (IPC) - Sections 279, 304A, 337
Citation:2013 ACJ 2141, 2013 (VII) AD (SC) 484, AIR 2013 SC 2293, 2013 (4) AJR 120, 2013 (5) ALD 165, 2013 (4) AllMR 946, 2013 (4) AWC 4050 SC, 2013 (4) BomCR 481, 2013 (4) CTC 252, 2013 (4) JLJR 128, 2013 (3) KLT 261, 2013 (5) MLJ 751, 2013 (II) OLR 1045, 2013 (4) PLJR 261, 2013 (3) RCR 817 (Civil), 2013 (4) RLW 3330, 2013 (8) SCALE 722, 2013 (9) SCC 166,
Judgement Date:July 02, 2013
Court:Supreme Court
 
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Judgment:

Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, J.

1. Delay condoned. Leave granted.

2. These appeals are directed against the judgment of the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court dated 12th April, 2007 in M.F.A. Nos. 1162 and 1298 of 2001(D) whereby compensation awarded to the claimants by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Kottayam (hereinafter referred to as 'the Tribunal', for short) was enhanced and the liability for the accident was apportioned at the ratio of 50:50.

3. The facts that lead to the present case are as follows:

On 16th April, 1990, a motor accident took place on K.K. Road, near Pampadi Mavell Store, whereby the car driven by one Joy Kuruvila (deceased) had a head on collision with a bus that came from the opposite direction. Joy Kuruvila sustained serious injuries and died on the way to hospital. His four dependents, namely, Chinnamma Joy (widow of deceased), Jiju Kuruvila aged 14 years, Jaison Kuruvila aged 11 years (2 minor children of the deceased) and Grace Kuruvila (mother of the deceased) aged 85 years filed a joint application Under Section 140 and 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as, 'the Act'), claiming compensation of Rs. 57,25,000/- towards following heads:

(a) Funeral Expenses 

Rs. 25,000/- 

(b) Compensation for pain and suffering 

Rs. 1,00,000/- 

(c) Compensation on account of death of the deceased and consequent loss of income to the Petitioners 

Rs. 54,00,000/- 

(d) Compensation for the loss of consortium to the 1st Petitioner 

Rs. 1,00,000/- 

(e) Loss of paternal love, affection and guidance to the 2nd and 3rd Petitioners 

Rs. 1,00,000/- 

 

Rs. 57,25,000/- 

4. At the time of accident, Joy Kuruvila was about 45 years of age and was working as a Manager in the Freeman Management Corporation, New York Branch in the United State of America for more than nine years and was receiving a monthly salary of 2500 US Dollars equivalent to Rs. 43,100/-. He was provided with quarter by the employer and was residing alongwith his wife-Joy Kuruvila used to give Rs. 30,000/- per month to his wife for the household expenses and savings after meeting his personal expenses. He was healthy, energetic, otherwise, had longevity of life and could have continued in service upto the age of 65 years as per service conditions i.e. For another 20 years.

5. The 1st claimant is the wife, 2nd and 3rd claimants are the children and the 4th claimant was the mother of the deceased. P.C. Kurian, who was the 3rd Respondent, was driving the bus at the time of the accident and 1st Respondent, Kunjujamma Mohan was the bus owner. It was alleged that the accident occurred solely due to rash and negligent driving of the bus driver, P.C. Kurian and the vehicle had valid insurance with the Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. Based on such facts, the claimants claimed a sum of Rs. 57,25,000/- as compensation with 18% interest and cost.

6. In spite of notice, the bus owner, Kunjujamma Mohan and the driver, P.C. Kurian did not appear before the Tribunal and the High Court and had not denied the allegations.

7. The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as, "the Insurance Company") in its written statement, admitted the existence of the valid policy of bus No. KRK-3057 in the name of Kunjujamma Mohan but denied the allegation of rash and negligent driving on the part of the bus driver, P.C. Kurian in causing the accident. The age, occupation, monthly income of the deceased and the claim of compensation were also disputed. According to the Insurance Company, the accident occurred due to rash and negligent driving of the deceased.

8. The evidence consisting of testimony of PW.1 to PW.3 and Ext.-A1 to Ext.-8 and Ext. B1 to B3 were brought on record.

9. During pendency of the claim before the Tribunal, the 4th claimant, Grace Kuruvila, mother of the deceased expired; the rest of the claimants remained as legal heirs of the deceased. The 2nd and 3rd claimants, children of the deceased, who were minor at the time of filing the claim case attained majority during the pendency of the case and were declared as major.

10. The Tribunal after hearing the parties and recording evidence held that the accident was caused due to rash and negligent driving of the bus driver. Considering the contributory negligence on the part of the deceased the Tribunal apportioned the liability for the accident in the ratio of 75:25 between the driver of the bus and the deceased. It Assessed compensation to be Rs. 18,38,500/- and after deducting 25% towards contributory negligence on the part of the deceased, awarded a sum of Rs. 13,80,625/- with 12% interest for payment in favour of the claimants.

11. The High Court affirmed the view of the Tribunal regarding rash and negligent driving both on the part of the bus driver and the deceased, but apportioned the contributory negligence @ 50:50 for payment of compensation. The High Court held that the Tribunal wrongly fixed Rs. 10,000/- as the monthly contribution by the deceased to the family and observed that even if 1/3rd was deducted towards personal expenses of the deceased, more than 1600 US Dollars could be taken as dependency benefit. However, while determining the compensation...

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