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Relief on quantum of compensation not asked, not to be considered

The High Court by a sweeping observation proceeded to reverse the finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal. Whereas, the Tribunal had duly considered the evidence of PW-1, PW-2 and the material accompanying the charge-sheet filed in respect of Crime No.12/2001 as also the plea taken by the insurer and the evidence of RW-1. In our opinion, the conclusion reached by the Tribunal is a possible view, which could not have been disturbed by the High Court in the appeal filed by the insurer, much less in such a casual manner, as has been done by the High Court.

Notably, the High Court has not even adverted to the other findings recorded by the Tribunal as regards the manner in which accident occurred and, in particular, about the rash and negligent act of the driver of the tractor which had caused the accident resulting into the death of Chanabasayya on the spot due to grievous injuries suffered by him. The High Court has also not adverted to the finding recorded by the Tribunal in respect of Issue Nos.2 and No.3 regarding the proof of age, occupation and income of the deceased and the quantum of just and reasonable compensation. The High Court based its conclusion that the insurer cannot be saddled with the liability to satisfy the award, on the finding that the deceased was not travelling along with his goods at the time of accident. No more and no less. However, as the said finding recorded by the High Court cannot be sustained, the finding of the Tribunal on the factum that the deceased had travelled along with his goods will have to be affirmed and restored. It would necessarily follow that the insurer was not absolved of its liability to pay the compensation amount awarded to the claimants. We say so because the Tribunal has found, as of fact, that the insurance policy brought on record was a valid policy in respect of the offending tractor for the period commencing from 12.02.2000 to 11.02.2001.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the insurance company was not liable to pay compensation amount awarded to the claimants as the offending tractor was duly insured, the insurer would be still liable to pay the compensation amount in the first instance with liberty to recover the same from the owner of the vehicle owner.

Hon’ble Dipak Misra, C.J.I. and A.M. Khanwilkar, J., have held that we have no hesitation in taking a view that consequent to affirmation and restoration of the finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal regarding the factum of deceased had travelled along with his goods at the time of accident, the insurer would be obliged to satisfy the compensation amount awarded to the claimants.

Reverting to the argument of the appellants that the Tribunal committed manifest error in computing the compensation amount, we find that the appellants (claimants) did not file an appeal for enhancement of compensation amount against that part of the award passed by the Tribunal nor chose to file any cross-objection in the First Appeal filed by the insurer before the High Court. Moreover, from the judgment of the High Court there is no indication that any attempt was made on behalf of the appellants to ask for enhanced compensation amount on the grounds as would have been available to the appellants in that behalf. Significantly, in the present appeal also, the appellants have not asked for any “relief” against that part of the award passed by the Tribunal, regarding the quantum of compensation. The relief claimed in this appeal is only to set aside the decision of the High Court passed in the First Appeal preferred by the insurer. In this backdrop, it will not be appropriate for this Court to consider the argument regarding the quantum of compensation at the instance of the appellants (claimants).
Shivawwa v. National India Insurance Co. Ltd., 2018 (187), AIC 7 (SC).

An unstamped Instrument not admissible

In the suit, plaintiff has filed the document dated 9.9.1994 evidencing family settlement which was claimed by the plaintiff as memorandum of settlement. An application under Order XIII, Rule 3, C.P.C. and Article 45 and section 35 of the Indian Stamp Act and sections 17 and 49 of the Indian Registration Act, was filed by the defendant claiming that document dated 9.9.1994 being not a registered document and being not properly stamped is not admissible in evidence, same may be rejected. The application was replied by the plaintiff. The Trial Court vide its order dated 3.3.2015 allowed the application of the defendant holding that the document dated 9.9.1994 is a family settlement deed and a relinquishment document dated is not admissible as evidence being inadequately stamped and not being registered. Against the said order dated 3.3.2015 writ petition was filed by the plaintiff which was dismissed by the High Court also took the view that so called family settlement takes away the share of the sisters and mother therefore, the same was compulsorily registrable. Aggrieved by the said order, the plaintiff has come up in this appeal.

The only question which needs to be considered in the present case is as to whether document dated 9.9.1994 could have been accepted by the Trial Court in evidence or Trial Court in evidence or Trial Court has rightly held the said document inadmissible. The plaintiff claimed the document dated 9.9.1994 as memorandum of family settlement.

Pertaining to family settlement, a memorandum of family settlement and its necessity of registration, the law has been settled by this Court. It is sufficient to refer to the judgment of this Court in Kale and others v. Deputy Director of Consolidation and others. The propositions with regard to family settlement, its registration were laid down by this Court in paragraphs 10 and 11.

Hon’ble A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ., have held that we are, thus, in full agreement with the view taken by the Trial Court as well as the High Court that the document dated 9.9.1994 was compulsorily registrable. The document also being not stamped could not have been accepted in evidence and order of Trial Court allowing the application under Order XII, Rule 3, C.P.C. and the reasons given by the Trial Court in allowing the application of the defendant holding the document as inadmissible cannot be faulted.

There is only one aspect of the matter which needs consideration, i.e., whether the document dated 9.9.1994 which was inadmissible in evidence could have been used for any collateral purpose in a suit for partition, an unregistered document can be relied upon for collateral purpose i.e., severancy of title, nature of possession of carious shares but not for the primary purpose i.e., division of joint properties by meres and bounds. Further, an unstamped instrument is not admissible in evidence even for collateral purpose, until the same is impounded.

After holding the said documents as inadmissible, this Court further proceeded to consider the question as to whether the documents B-21 and B-22 can be used for any collateral purpose. In the above context the Court accepted the submission of the appellant that the documents can be looked into for collateral purpose provided appellant-defendant to pay the stamp duty together with penalty and get the document impounded.
Sita Ram Bhama v. Ramavtar Bhama, 218 (187) AIC 23 (SC).

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