|MACMA 1509 / 2013||CMASR 17868 / 2004|
published in http://18.104.22.168/hcorders/orders/2013/macma/macma_1509_2013.html
THE HONOURABLE SRI JUSTICE L. NARASIMHA REDDY
THE HONOURABLE SRI JUSTICE S.V. BHATT
M.A.C.M.A.No.1509 of 2013
JUDGMENT: - (Per the Hon’ble Sri Justice L. Narasimha Reddy)
Respondents 1 to 5 herein filed O.P.No.129 of 2001 before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal-cum-District Judge, Rajahmundry, claiming a sum of Rs.20,00,000/- as compensation on account of death of Sri T. Adireddy, the husband of the first respondent, father of respondents 2 and 3 and son of respondents 4 and 5. It was pleaded that the deceased was cultivating an extent of Acs.40.00 of land and was running two petrol bunks including Service Stations at Anaparthi and Rajahmundry. Their further plea was that he was doing business in finance and running a dairy farm.
It was stated that on 30.11.2000, Adireddy was proceeding from Vizianagaram to Anaparthi in a Maruti Car bearing No.AP SC 9495, driven by his driver and on the way, a lorry bearing No.WB 23 6875 driven by the sixth respondent, owned by the seventh respondent and insured with the appellant, dashed against the car, resulting in serious injuries to the inmates of car. Adireddy said to have died in the Government Hospital while undergoing treatment and Crime No.104 of 2000 was registered in relation thereto under Section 304-A I.P.C. According to respondents 1 to 3 and 5, the deceased was getting income from various sources and his contribution to the family was about Rs.15,000/- per month.
Respondents 6 and 7 remained ex parte. The O.P was opposed by the appellant alone. They filed counter denying the facts pleaded by respondents 1 to 5. The liability for accident and the plea as to the age and income of the deceased were disputed.
The Tribunal awarded the amount as prayed for through its order dated 30.12.2002.
Sri E. Venugopal Reddy, learned counsel for the appellant submits that the finding recorded by the Tribunal as regards the income of the deceased was not at all supported by evidence. He further submits that the Tribunal did not deduct any amount at all towards personal expenditure of the deceased. Learned counsel submits that the interest awarded by the Tribunal is excessive.
Sri N. Siva Reddy, learned counsel for respondents 1 to 3 and 5, on the other hand, submits that the figure Rs.15,000/- taken by the Tribunal as monthly contribution of the deceased, was after deductions and that no exception can be taken to the findings recorded by the Tribunal in this behalf. He submits that the deceased was earning income through various establishments and the claim itself was, in a way, conservative. He submits that the interest awarded by the Tribunal is reasonable.
While Adireddy died in the accident, another person by name Rachakonda Sasi Nagesh sustained injuries in the same accident. Respondents 1 to 5 filed O.P.No.129 of 2001. The injured filed another O.P and both were decided, together.
On the basis of the pleadings before it, the Tribunal framed the following points in O.P.No.129 of 2001 for its consideration:
1. Whether the deceased Tadi Adireddy, died in motor accident occurred on 30.11.2000 at 8 A.M. due to the rash and negligent driving of lorry bearing No.WB 23 6875 driven by the 1st respondent?
2. Whether the petitioners being the dependants of the deceased Tadi Adireddy, are entitled to the compensation of Rs.20,00,000/- with interest thereon from all the respondents with joint and several liability?
To prove their case, respondents 1 to 3 and 5 examined P.W.1 (second respondent) and filed Exs.A.1 to A.8. They included the F.I.R, postmortem certificate, charge sheet, M.V.I Report (Exs.A.1 to A.4), partnership deed, income tax returns, PAN card and pattadar pass book (Exs.A.5 to A.8). On behalf of the appellant, no one was examined. The Insurance policy was filed as Ex.B.1.
The Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs.20,00,000/- as compensation.
The points that arise for consideration are:
(a) Whether the Tribunal was justified in awarding a sum of Rs.20,00,000/- as compensation to the claimants? and
(b) Whether the rate of interest awarded by the Tribunal is proper?
The occurrence of the accident was not disputed and the same was proved beyond any pale of doubt with the deposition of P.W.1 and filing of Exs.A.1 to A.4. The only controversy is about the quantum of compensation.
Two factors become relevant in this regard, namely, the contribution of the deceased to the family and the multiplier. In the instant case, based upon the age of the deceased, the multiplier ‘14’ was applied and the learned counsel for the appellant did not raise any objection as to this.
Respondents 1 to 3 and 5 pleaded that the deceased was earning income from agriculture, petrol bunks, dairy farm and other businesses. The annual turnover for the year 2000-01 was shown as Rs.13,22,888/-. Even according to respondents 1 to 3 and 5, the loss of dependency was to the extent of Rs.15,000/- per month. P.W.1 did not stick to this and his evidence was only to the effect that the loss of dependency is Rs.5,000/-. An attempt was made to explain this by stating that the figure was wrongly stated in the evidence. The Tribunal, however, observed that even after deducting 1/3rd from the income of the deceased towards his personal expenses, it would be Rs.15,000/- per month. This observation and finding is contrary to the record and it is a bit perverse.
The plea of respondents 1 to 3 and 5 itself was that the income of the deceased was Rs.15,000/- per month. Notwithstanding the fact that the oral evidence did not support this, the deduction of the personal expenditure of the deceased ought to have been effected from this. Since there are five dependents for the deceased, the deduction can be 1/4th. However, the Tribunal has straightaway adopted the figure Rs.15,000/- by making a baseless observation that 1/3rd is deducted from it. If 1/4th is deducted from Rs.15,000/-, it would be Rs.11,250/- per month. The annual loss of income would be Rs.1,35,000/-. If it is multiplied with ‘13’, the loss of contribution to the family will be Rs,17,55,000/-. Hence, the compensation is reduced to Rs.17,55,000/-. To this amount, a sum of Rs.20,000/- needs to be added towards loss of consortium and Rs.5,000/- towards funeral expenses. Then, it comes to Rs.17,80,000/-. Out of this, a sum of Rs.2,00,000/- is awarded to the fifth respondent and Rs.20,000/- representing consortium is awarded to the first respondent. The remaining amount shall be divided equally among respondents 1 to 3.
In the recent past, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the rate of interest is 7% per annum. We accordingly direct reduction of interest from 9% per annum to 7% per annum.
The appeal is partly allowed to the extent indicated above. There shall be no order as to costs.
The Miscellaneous Petitions filed in this appeal shall stand disposed of.
_______________________ L. NARASIMHA REDDY, J.
S.V. BHATT , J