Allahabad High Court: Burden Of Proof May Ordinarily Be Cast On Defendants In Motor Accident Cases

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Facts of the Case
The claimant in the case Netrapal Singh vs U.P.S.R.T.C. and Anr. had filed a petition to receive compensation of Rs.9,75,000/- along with 18% interest.  He filed the petition on account of injuries suffered by him in a road accident which occurred on 16th January 1992. The Petitioner alleged in the claim petition he is the owner and driver of a minibus. He was going to Meerut from the village Pittobans, District Bulandshahar around 6:30- 7:00 a.m. on 16th January 1992.

Near Kaithala village, another Roadways bus crashed into the minibus of the claimant. The claimant admitted that the driver of the bus drove in a rash and negligent manner. The claimant received grievous injuries in the said accident. 

Contentions of the Appellant 

The Counsel argued that the injuries suffered on account of the accident had rendered the claimant permanently disabled. The age of the claimant was 26 years at the time of the accident.  His income was Rs.6000/- per month from the transport business at the time of the incident. However, on account of the disability, he was unable to earn a living afterwards. 

Contentions of the Respondents 

The counsel argued that there was a fog during the morning, on the said date. Additionally, the claimant came from the wrong side, without blowing light. Thereafter, the claimant collided with the bus.

The driver employed by the Corporation did not bear any negligence. Hence, the accident occurred on account of the sole negligence of the claimant himself.  Also, the petition did not implead the owner and insurance company of minibus as a party to the claim.

Held 

The Court determined that the factum of the accident was not disputed by the parties. It was only the rash and negligence that has been disputed by both the parties. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal held that the drivers of both vehicles were negligent. Thus, they were both responsible for the accident.

The Court fixed their liability as follows:

  • 60% liability upon the Corporation. The Court held this to be the negligence of the driver of the Corporation. 
  • 40%  liability of the claimant holding his contributory negligence. 

The burden of proof may ordinarily be cast on the defendants in a motor accident claim petition to prove that the motor vehicle was being driven with reasonable care or that there is equal negligence on the part of the driver of another vehicle.

On 30th May 2020, the Court dismissed both the appeals. It modified the award of the Tribunal. The Court enhanced the compensation awarded by the Tribunal from Rs.2,02,000/- to Rs.3,00,000/-. Additionally, it set the rate of interest at 9% from the date of filing. The enhanced amounts were to be paid within two months.


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