22 July 2024


High Court of Punjab and Haryana

Rajinder Kumar Sharma Vs. Suresh Kumar and Ors.



Motor Vehicles

Mere relationship or being an acquaintance cannot be sole ground to discard the testimony of an otherwise reliable witness

Rajinder Kumar Sharma, owner of the vehicle in question has filed the instant appeal assailing the award passed by the Tribunal. A claim petition was filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 seeking compensation to the tune of Rs. 80 lakhs on account of death of Nitish Kumar in a motor vehicle accident that took place on 25th March, 2015. FIR came to be lodged at Police Station, on the statement of uncle of the deceased.

Counsel representing the Appellant/owner of the vehicle argues that it is a case of misreading and mis-appreciation of evidence. FIR had been lodged against an unknown driver and unknown vehicle. He argues that, it was a clear case of hit and run and a convenient vehicle has been introduced with a view to claim compensation.

Inspite of PW-1 and PW-3 having deposed that, they had read the registration number of the offending truck, yet, the FIR had been registered against an unknown vehicle being driven by an unknown person. It is in intriguing that even though, PW-1 states that the Driving License of the driver of the offending vehicle had fallen out of the pocket of the driver and the same had been picked up and handed over to the police, still, particulars of the driver did not find a mention in the FIR. Furthermore, on the one hand PW-1 has deposed that he was the solitary witness to the accident and that Ritesh @ Hitesh Kumar, PW-3 had reached thereafter and that he had told him about the offending truck having struck the motorcycle, PW-3 claims himself to be following the deceased and having witnessed the accident himself. The variations in the deposition of PW-1 and PW-3 cannot be overlooked. They would go to the root of the matter.

PW-3 concededly is the real uncle of the deceased. Even Kanwal Kumar is a resident of the same village as the deceased and has admitted in his deposition that he was on visiting terms with the family of the deceased. Mere relationship or being an acquaintance cannot be the sole ground to discard the testimony of an otherwise reliable witness but in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and by noticing the glaring contradictions, this Court would not hesitate to record that PW-1 and PW-3 have been planted as witnesses so as to introduce the offending vehicle.

It is a settled proposition of law that in cases relating to motor accident claims, the claimants are not required to prove the case as it is required to be done in a criminal trial. The standard of proof i.e. beyond reasonable doubt is not to be applied in such cases. The claimants are to establish their case on the touch stone of preponderance of probability. In the present case even going by the principle of preponderance of probability and by examining the deposition of PW-1 and PW-3, this Court would conclude that the offending truck was not involved in the accident.

The material contradictions in the statements of the two alleged eye witnesses PW-1 and PW-3 have been overlooked by the Tribunal. Undoubtedly, the police have filed a challan against the driver but the same in isolation would not be conclusive with regard to involvement of the offending truck in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case. The impugned award passed by the Tribunal is set aside. Present appeal is allowed.

Tags : Award Compensation Validity

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