It is Not ‘Contributory Negligence’ merely on the basis of Conjecture or Guess Work: Supreme Court
JUMANI BEGUM v. RAM NARAYAN (SC) 2020
What is Contributory Negligence?
When there is a situation where both parties were in some respects negligent then the court decide as to whose negligence caused the death or injury. There are three possibilities when such event occurs :
i) Defendant’s negligence alone caused the death or injury.
ii) Deceased or plaintiff negligence was solely responsible for the death or injury.
iii) Negligence of both the parties caused death or injury.
Contributory Negligence is the defence available to the defendant which means that the deceased or the plaintiff failed to take reasonable care of his own safety which was contributory factor to his death or injury.
1. Deceased aged 53 years was employed as an Assistant Grade II in Water Resources Department of the State of Chattisgarh (Salary of 12,636 per month).
2. While riding his motorcycle there was a collision with a truck trailer (trolley trucks) which was parked on the road and as a result he died.
3. Motor Appellant Claims Tribunal (MACT) came to the conclusion that it was a case of contributory negligence and claim computed by the MACT was Rs. 7,63,976. And since there was contributory negligence a total amount to be awarded is Rs. 3,81,988 (50%).
4. The High Court affirmed that it was a case of contributory negligence but the total compensation was enhanced from Rs. 3,81,988 to Rs. 6,81,000 (50%).
5. The Appellant Counsel (appearing for the deceased) approached the hon’ble Supreme Court submitted that MACT accepted the evidence of the independent witness, it came to the conclusion that there was contributory negligence on the part of the deceased without cogent reason. Also, that the High Court simply proceeded to affirm the view of MACT without giving reasons.
Decision of the Apex Court
1. Although, MACT did not inspired the confidence on the evidence of truck driver who said that the indicators on the truck trailer has been lit. On the otherhand, eye-witness denied the existence of reflectors at the spot. The Apex Court held that the MACT has acted surmisedly (means, suppose that something is true without having evidence to confirm it). Also, that there was no reason or justification for the MACT to proceed on the basis of conjecture (means, an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information) in arriving at a finding of contributory negligence.
2. Also, the Apex Court held that the High Court has affirmed the order of the MACT without going into the evidence and without going in deep details of the case and held it be Contributory negligence.
3. Also, the Apex Court enhanced the compensation which was given by the high Court. An addition of 15% towards future prospects would be required to be made having regard to the age of the deceased. The court computed the compensation on the basis of Constitutional bench judgement in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, 2017 16 SCC.