Wednesday, February 16, 2011


2001 ACJ 5
(Civil Appeal No.741 of 1997; decided on 14.11.2000)


Pallavan Transport Corporation Ltd.                                Appellant


M. Jagannathan                                                                Respondent


Important point:
Bus stopped at a place due to trafficjam and the conductor asked the passengers whose destination was next stop to get down- when the claimant was getting down, driver moved the bus, claimant fell down and wheel of the bus ran over his left leg- Apex Court observed that even if the version of conductor is accepted, there would have been no difficulty for the driver to take care as the claimant got down from the front gate-Claim allowed.

Misra & Pal, JJ.-This appeal is by Pallavan Transport Corporation Ltd. challenging the order passed by High Court granting compensation to the claimant to the tune of Rs. 4,50,000 out of the claim of Rs. 6,00,000. The main contention on behalf of the appellant is, the High Court fell into error in coming to the conclusion that driver was negligent in driving the bus which met with an accident injuring the claimant. The other submission is, the grant of compensation is excessive.

2.  The incident occurred on 21.6.1990 when the respondent travelled in a bus run by the appellant. The case of the appellant is, while the bus was proceeding slowly during the traffic jam, the respondent attempted to get down from the bus and in the process injured his left leg which had to be amputated. The submission is, the claimant got down from the bus not at any bus-stop but when the bus was proceeding from the Flower Bazar Police Station towards Parrys Corner.

3.  The respondent filed claim petition alleging when the bus was proceeding near Anderson Street bus-stop, because of traffic jam the bus stopped and then the conductor asked the passengers to get down and it is only then when respondent was getting down, the driver, all of a sudden started the bus at a high speed in a rash and negligent manner which resulted into the fall of the claimant resulting the wheel of the bus running over the leg of the petitioner. The Tribunal after considering evidence of the parties held that the accident occurred because claimant fell down while getting down from the moving bus, which would not constitute any negligence on the part of the driver or the conductor. Accordingly, the claim petition was dismissed but granted compensation of Rs. 12,000 towards no fault liability. The respondent preferred an appeal, the High Court set aside the findings of the trial court and held the compensation cannot be denied to the victim on the facts and circumstances of this case. The High Court records, there is general tendency of the passengers, which is well-known, that in case bus stops for traffic jam or for some other reason between two bus-stops the passengers who have to get down at some nearby place do start getting down, hence the conductor and the driver have to be more careful before restarting the bus. Finally, the High Court held, the accident occurred on account of negligence of the conductor and the driver resulting into injury to the claimant and thus awarded compensation to the tune of Rs. 4,50,000. Aggrieved by that, the appellant has filed the present appeal.

4.  The question for consideration is, as usually in such cases, whether on the facts and circumstances of this case, conductor and driver were negligent or not which resulted into injury of the claimant. The Tribunal relying on the statement of the conductor, according to which when the bus was slowly moving due to the traffic congestion, the passengers in spite of his warning were getting down from the bus, taking advantage of the slow moving of the bus resulting into the accident which cannot be construed any negligence by the conductor or the driver.

5.  The High Court while considering this question believed the following statement of the claimant PW 1:

"The conductor told the passengers who are to go to Parrys Corner to get down here itself. Seven passengers got down before me. My friends who came with me also got down. We got down from the front gate of the bus. When I was getting down suddenly the driver took the bus. I slipped and fell down."

According to the statement the conductor told the passengers who are to go to Parrys Corner to get down here it self claimant further states, in fact seven passengers got down before him and when he was getting down, suddenly the driver started the bus he slipped down. If this be so, which the High Court has believed, the question is if passengers were led by what the conductor told the passengers, then restarting the bus without taking any care that all such passengers got down constitute negligence both on the part of the conductor and the driver. It is always important to have coordination between the conductor and the driver, whenever passengers start getting down or are led to get down, to see that before any signal is given by the conductor, in any form, as normally there is bell in most of the buses which conductor rings signalling the driver to start the bus, the driver should not restart the bus. In the absence of coherence or lack of coordination between the two it is bound to result into accident, which has happened in the present case. This would constitute to be negligence on the part of both the conductor and the driver. Once this evidence is accepted, which has been in this case, there is no scope to reassess the evidence in the present proceedings, about which attempt has been made, unless it can be said, this finding is based on no evidence or is perverse. Learned counsel for the appellant submitted with vehemence and attempted to takes us to the evidence to show that there was no negligence on the part of the driver. However, as we have said, it is not proper for this court to reassess the evidence and even if another view is possible, this court would not do so in a proceeding under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. In the present case, we further find, as per evidence of PW 1, that he was getting down from the front gate of bus, which is almost adjacent to the driver. If that be so, there is no difficulty for the driver to take this much of care, even if the version of RW I is accepted, to restart the bus suddenly when the passengers were getting down. For all these reasons, we do not find any error committed by the High Court in recording the finding that there was negligence on the part of the conductor/driver.

6.  The next submission is about the quantum of compensation. The learned counsel for the appellant took us to ground Nos. 9 and 10 in the SLP to submit that the grant of compensation was on a higher side. Out of the two grounds the first is that the High Court has not given any reason for arriving at the compensation and secondly in any case no details are given as to how this compensation amount of Rs. 4,50,000 was arrived at. We have perused the order passed by the High Court. The High Court after recording the various items of the claim has considered and given the reasons for arriving at its conclusion. In fact, the contention on behalf of the appellant before the High Court that the claim is on the higher side was considered and accepted. The various claims made by the claimant were considered. Some of which were accepted-some of which were not accepted. Finally, High Court reduced the compensation of Rs. 1,50,000 for arriving at the figure of Rs. 4,50,000 hence it cannot be said that the High Court has not given any reason or considered the various break-ups to arrive at the figure. What is to be seen is, whether the court has applied its mind on the various items. In the present case, apart from giving the reasons, the High Court has considered the various items of the claim.

7.  On overall consideration we do not find it to be a fit case to interfere even on the grant of compensation. This is a case where the claimant has lost his one leg with 85 per cent disability with the possibility of cent per cent loss. In view of this such person's life is completely changed. He is a new man, he has to live a new life, new venture, hence we do not find any error in the impugned order to interfere with it. Hence for the said reasons, we decline to interfere with it. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed with costs.

Appeal dismissed.

5_2001 Pallavan Transport Corporation Ltd. v. M. Jagannathan

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