A two-judge Bench of Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Hrishikesh Roy has held if any evidence before the Tribunal runs contrary to the contents contained in the First Information Report, the evidence which is recorded has to be given weightage over the contents of the FIR.
An appeal was preferred by the Insurance Company against the judgment of Madras High Court which had partly allowed the appeal filed by the Respondents by enhancing the compensation to Rs.1,85,08,832/-.
In this case, 1st Respondent's husband had died in a road accident. The Respondent alleged that driver of another vehicle traveling in front of their vehicle had turned towards the right side without giving any signal or indicator which led to an accident and the death of the deceased, who was driving the vehicle and caused injury to the Respondents.
Before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal/ Additional District Court Tiruppur, the Respondents had claimed a compensation of Rs. 3 Crores.
The Tribunal however awarded the Respondents with a compensation of Rs.10,40,500/-, holding that there was contributory negligence on the part of both the drivers with a ratio of 75% and 25%.
The High Court however held that the accident occurred solely due to the negligence of the other driver and awarded enhanced compensation.
The Appellant contended before the Supreme Court that the High Court had reversed the judgment of the Tribunal, which was contrary to the evidence on record. It was argued that the contents of the FIR were ignored, which was an important documentary evidence.
The Apex Court, after considering the contentions of the parties, held, "The evidence of PW–1 & PW–3 is categorical and in absence of any rebuttal evidence by examining the driver of Eicher van, the High Court has rightly held that the accident occurred only due to the negligence of the driver of Eicher van."
"It is to be noted that PW–1 herself travelled in the very car and PW–3, who has given statement before the police, was examined as eye–witness. In view of such evidence on record, there is no reason to give weightage 6 to the contents of the First Information Report," the Bench opined.
The Court held that the High Court had correctly calculated the quantum of compensation by taking into account the salary which was earned by the deceased.
"Even the amount of compensation on other conventional heads is awarded correctly by the High Court," the Court observed.
The Court had earlier stayed the enforcement of the impugned judgment of the High Court subject to the condition of depositing a lumpsum amount of Rs. 25 lacs before the Tribunal with a direction to deposit the same in an interest-earning Fixed Deposit in a Nationalised Bank.
The Court while dismissing the Appeal directed the Appellant-Insurance Company to pay the said amount to the Respondents with accrued interest, along with the balance amount within a period of two months.