Not Taking Due Care While Overtaking Also Amounts to Rash, Negligent Driving: Delhi HC

Rash and negligent driving does not necessarily mean excessive speed and will include not taking due care while driving, particularly overtaking either a stationary or moving vehicle, the Delhi High Court has said.

The court’s observation came on a petition by the family of a motorcycle rider who died after colliding with a DTC bus parked in the middle of the road without any signal or light indicator on the night of July 22, 2012.

The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal had granted more than over Rs 17 lakh to the family but ordered a deduction of 20 per cent towards contributory negligence by the deceased.

The claimants were also awarded interest of 7.5 per cent per annum from the date of filing the plea till payment is made by the insurance company.

The family sought enhancement of the compensation amount before the high court.

Justice Gaurang Kanth, in a recent order, observed that from the account of the eyewitness, there was no doubt that the accident occurred due to the irresponsible and negligent parking of the DTC bus in the middle of the road, but it could have been avoided if the victim could have driven his motorcycle with all due care while crossing the stationary vehicle.

“This court is also of the opinion that rash and negligent driving does not in every case necessarily mean excessive speed. Not taking due care while driving the vehicle and in particular overtaking, either stationary or moving vehicle also would amount to rash and negligent driving,” said the court as it agreed with the tribunal’s decision to deduct 20 per cent from awarded amount for contributory negligence.

Keeping in account the annual income of the deceased and other relevant factors, the court enhanced the compensation to more than Rs 42 lakh.

It noted that the age of the deceased was 54 years and he was working as a government contractor within Delhi and National Capital Region and at the time of his death, he was survived by seven dependents — his wife, mother, three sons and two daughters.

“In view of the foregoing reasons and discussions, the compensation is increased from Rs 17,49,491 to Rs 42,16,747.88. However, 20 per cent of the total awarded compensation is to be deducted as this is a case of contributory negligence. Therefore, Rs 8,43,349.57 is to be deducted from the awarded compensation towards the contributory negligence,” the court ordered.

The court also clarified that the rate of interest of 7.5 per cent as fixed by the learned tribunal shall be maintained.

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