1. Appellant herein filed a claim application before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Kozhikode, under Section 110A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (for short "the Act"), claiming a total amount of Rs. 30,000 as compensation under various heads on account of injuries sustained by him in the course of an accident. He impleaded the owners, drivers and insurers of the two vehicles. Some of the respondents including the insurers contested. The Tribunal allowed the claim to the extent of Rs. 2,100 with costs, fixing the advocate's fee at Rs. 150. Being dissatisfied with the award, the claimant has filed this appeal.
2. Sri K. S. Rajamony, representing the Indian Association of Lawyers, Kerala Chapter, has been requested to give legal aid to the appellant. Sri Rajamony has addressed arguments on behalf of the appellant.
3. On September 13, 1976, at about 12 noon, the appellant was a passenger in bus KLH-2185 belonging to the second respondent. When the bus reached Orkkatteri, another bus KLZ-5295 belonging to the fifth respondent came from the opposite side. There was a collision between the two buses as a result of which appellant sustained severe injuries and lost 11 of his teeth. Appellant alleged that the accident was on account of rash and negligent driving on the part of drivers of both the vehicles, viz., respondents Nos. 1 and 4. Second respondent is the owner and third respondent is the insurer of vehicle KLH-2185. Respondents Nos. 1, 2 and 4 remained ex parte. Third respondent filed a written statement stating that insurer does not admit that the accident was due to the rash or negligent driving on the part of the first respondent and alleging that the accident occurred due to the utter negligence of the driver of bus KLZ-5295, The insurer also put the claimant to strict proof of the fact that the vehicle KLH-2185 had a valid insurance policy and that it was plying at the time of the accident in accordance with the conditions of the permit and policy. Fifth respondent sought to put the blame on the first respondent. Sixth respondent put the claimant to strict proof of the allegations in the application.
4. The Tribunal held that the accident took place due to negligent driving of bus KLH-2185 by the first respondent, driver under the second respondent. The Tribunal further held that there was no evidence let in by the claimant to show that the vehicle was insured with the third respondent and found that the owner and driver were liable but not the alleged insurer. On the question of quantum, the Tribunal rejected the claim of Rs. 90 towards expenses incurred for transport of the injured to hospital, and Rs. 300 claimed for extra nourishment. The Tribunal allowed Rs. 2,000 as compensation for pain and suffering and awarded only Rs. 100 towards loss of earnings. Thus, in all, Rs. 2,100 was awarded.
5. The finding of the Tribunal that driver of bus KLH-2185 of which claimant was a passenger drove the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner leading to the accident in which the claimant sustained injuries and, therefore, the driver and constructively the owner are liable to pay compensation, is not challenged before us. Appellant challenges, the finding of the Tribunal exonerating third respondent, impleaded as the insurer of the vehicle. Exoneration rested on the fact that the claimant adduced no evidence to show that the vehicle was insured with the third respondent.
6. It appears to us that this approach of the Tribunal was wholly erroneous. In the claim petition, it was definitely alleged that the third respondent, the United India Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd., was the insurer of the vehicle and the third respondent was also liable for compensation. In the written statement filed by the third respondent, the only response in this behalf was as follows:
"This respondent does not admit that the vehicle KLH-2185 was covered with a valid insurance policy and that it was plying at the time of accident in accordance with the conditions of the permit and the policy. The applicant is put to strict proof of the same."
7. It is interesting to note that the number of the vehicle in which the claimant was travelling was mentioned in the claim application as KLH-2185 and third respondent was described as insurer of that vehicle. That the claimant was travelling in bus KLH-2185 was not denied in the written statement. The passage in the written statement extracted above does not relate to bus KLH-2185 ; it relates to bus KLH-2165. This would mean that there was no dental that vehicle KLH-2185 was covered with a valid insurance policy issued by the third respondent.
8. Before filing the claim petition, appellant sent notices to all the respondents, putting forward a claim for Rs. 30,000 as compensation. Notices were served on all the respondents including third respondent. Exhibit A-1 is the office copy of the notice. In the notice it is stated that the third respondent is also liable as insurer of vehicle KLH-2185. But the notice did not mention the number or other particulars of the policy. Third respondent sent exhibit A-2 reply acknowledging the notice and assuring investigation of the claim. It is significant to note that exhibit A-2 mentions the policy No. as 186/24/1/428. It does not contain any disclaimer of the policy. This would mean that the third respondent traced out the policy taken by the owner of the vehicle KLH-2185 and mentioned the number of the policy in exhibit A-2. It was evident that the vehicle at the relevant time had been insured with the third respondent. The Tribunal was in serious error in exonerating the third respondent. We hold that as insurer, the third respondent is liable.
9. Appellant is also aggrieved by the rejection of claims under several heads and at the meagre amount of compensation awarded.
10. In the claim petition, it was averred that the claimant sustained severe and multiple injuries, that his right mandible was fractured, that 11 teeth were lost and the right knee cap had a lacerated injury. He was an in-patient from September 13, 1976, to September 27, 1976, and is unable to concentrate or engage in any coolie work because of constant headache. He has.lost his capacity to pursue his traditional job. These averments have not been specifically denied. Written statement of the third respondent contains only a statement to the effect that the injuries were minor and have been exaggerated beyond all proportion. The owner and driver remained ex parte. Other contesting respondents also merely stated that the injuries have been exaggerated. Therefore, the averments in the claim petition, which have not been specifically denied, have to be accepted as true in the absence of any circumstances indicating collusion. These averments are supported by the evidence of the claimant examined as P. W. 1, the evidence of doctor as P. W. 2 and exhibit A-5 wound certificate. Medical evidence shows that the claimant sustained lacerated injury over the right knee cap, fracture of the right half of the mandible and loss of lower two incisors, canines, two premolars and two molars on the right side and lower two incisors, canines and first pre-molar on the left side, and he was an in-patient till September 27, 1976. Of these injuries, the fracture and loss of teeth are described as grievous injuries. P. W. 2 has further deposed that the claimant must have undergone severe pain and suffering as a result of the injuries, though they did not bring about any permanent or partial disability or affect his earning power. P. W. 2 also deposed that the patient had lost amenities of life on account of loss of teeth.
11. In the light of the above evidence, we are unable to sustain the finding of the Tribunal rejecting the claim of Rs. 90, claimed as expenses for transport of the injured to the hospital. It is true that specific evidence in this regard is wanting. But in the absence of specific denial in the pleadings and having regard to the common course of events, the Tribunal ought to have accepted this claim. Ordinarily, a person who has sustained such severe and grievous injuries would have been taken to hospital in a vehicle and not in an ordinary transport bus. We allow this claim.
12. Similarly, we find rejection of the claim for extra nourishment unsupportable. No doubt, the claimant is expected to prove the claim put forward by him by evidence. But the Tribunal must have regard to the state of pleadings also before deciding whether a particular claim has to be held to be proved or not proved. Insistence in every case on proof of expenses either for transport or medicines or extra nourishment would be unrealistic. Tribunal has to make a fair estimate of the sum which would have been expended on this account and arrive at a reasonable figure to be awarded. (See Swaraj Motors Private Ltd. v. T. R. Raman Pillai  ACJ 127, United India Fire & General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Sayar Kanwar  ACJ 426, New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. v. Vijayakumaran Nair  ACJ 451 (Ker) and Rajas than State Road Transport Corporation v. Cyan Prakash Bhargava  ACJ 717 (Raj)).
13. In Part II of the claim petition, Rs. 2,000 was claimed as compensation for pain and suffering, Rs. 13,455 as compensation for continuing or permanent disability and Rs. 10,000 as compensation for loss of earning power. Tribunal awarded Rs. 2,000 as compensation for pain and suffering and disallowed the other claims on the ground of want of evidence. In awarding compensation for pain and suffering, we do not think the Tribunal was justified in sticking rigidly to the figure claimed in the petition. Total amount claimed under Part II is more than Rs. 25,000. This amount is split up under various sub-heads which need not to be adhered to. P.W. 2 deposed that the injured did not suffer any permanent or partial disability and the injuries will not in any way affect his earning power. At the same time, he stated that loss of 11 teeth resulted in loss of amenities of life, and the injured must have undergone severe pain and suffering. The Tribunal should necessarily have considered the medical evidence at least regarding loss of amenities of life and pain and suffering, even accepting that there was no disability regarding earning power. The medical evidence that there was no permanent or partial disability has reference perhaps to earning power. That there has been permanent disability on account of loss of 11 teeth is something which is undeniable. The Tribunal erred in ignoring the same.
14. In considering compensation for pain and suffering, the duration of pain, state of consciousness, physical strain and mental distress have to be taken into consideration. Claimant sustained extensive injuries including fracture of the mandible and loss of 11 teeth. He must necessarily have suffered severe pain and physical and mental stress.
15. In considering the personal loss to the injured, the injury itself has to be considered. The following passage per Cockburn C. J. in Phillips v. South Western Railway Co.  4 QB 406 is instructive (at page 407):
"...a jury cannot be said to take a reasonable view of the case unless they consider and take into account all the heads of damage in respect of which a plaintiff complaining of a personal injury is entitled to compensation. These are the bodily injury sustained ; the pain undergone; the effect on the health of the sufferer, according to its degree and its probable duration as likely to be temporary or permanent; the expenses incidental to attempts to effect a cure, or to lessen the amount of an injury......"
16. Compensation is due for the loss or impairment of limb or other specific part of the body or the body as a whole irrespective of whether there is loss of earning capacity or amenities, though these factors would make a difference to the quantum. Sellers L.J. stated in Wise v. Kaye  1 QB 638 (at p. 651):
"The first element......is the physical injury itself......the physical injury itself has always......been a head of claim which has justified and required in law an award of damages, according to the extent gravity and duration of the injury."
17. Lord Pearce said in West v. Shephard  2 All ER 625 (at page 643):
" The practice of the courts hitherto has been to treat bodily injury as a deprivation which in itself entitles a plaintiff to substantial damages according to its gravity."
18. Lord Wheatley L.J.--said in Dalgleish v. Glasgow Corporation  SLT 157:
" Leaving aside the subjective element, namely the awareness of the loss and deprivation occasioned by the injuries, which........falls properly within the element of pain and suffering, the actual mutilation of the body seems to me to call for damages on a scale commensurate with the nature of the injuries and not simply on a conventional scale which has no real relationship to these injuries."
19. Dealing with loss of amenities of life in Damages for Personal Injuries and Death by John Munkman, 7th edition, it was stated at page 116 :
" Damages may be awarded for the loss of the- pleasures or amenities of life, either permanently--by the loss of a leg, for example--or temporarily--as by mere detention in hospital or in bed for a period.
This is a distinct element altogether from pain and suffering, or from loss of earning power."
20. As Lord Roche observed in Rose v. Ford  3 All ER 359 (HL) (at p. 379):
" I regard impaired health and vitality, not merely as a cause of pain and suffering, but as a loss of a good thing in itself."
21. Of course, in estimating the cause for compensation, youth and age are important considerations. Previous state of health and personal circumstances of the claimant are relevant circumstances
22. In The Quantum of Damages in Personal Injury Claims by Kemp & Kemp, 1954 edition, it is stated at page 23 dealing with "loss of the amenities of life ":
" This head embraces everything which reduces the plaintiff's enjoyment of life considered apart from any material or pecuniary loss which may be attendant upon the loss of amenity."
23. At page 116, it is observed:
" This head of general damages embraces everything which reduces the plaintiff's enjoyment of life, considered apart from any material loss which may be attendant upon the plaintiff's injuries. "
24. Of course, this does not admit of being measured in terms of money. Yet, the court has to make a reasonable estimate of compensation to be awarded in this behalf.
25. We may also indicate that disfigurement is an important element in assessing damages, though the quantum may vary depending upon the sex and age of the claimant, consequences of disfigurement and other relevant circumstances. We find that none of the above principles has been borne in mind by the Tribunal in awarding damages. We do not think the Tribunal is justified in restricting compensation to Rs. 2,000 under the head pain and suffering merely because that was the amount claimed under that head, forgetting that thirteen thousand odd rupees had been claimed for continuing or permanent disability. Disability in the sense of inability to work or earn livelihood has not been proved. But disability involved in the loss of 11 teeth has not been denied and is established by medical evidence. The injury itself is a severe one. It involves a degree of disfigurement. It must have caused considerable pain and suffering to the claimant over an extended period. It certainly would diminish his enjoyment of life to a considerable degree. Considering all these circumstances! we are of opinion that under Part II, the Tribunal ought to have awarded Rs. 10,000 as compensation.
26. No technicality can stand in the way of this amount being awarded. A sum of money could be awarded as compensation, though not under the head claimed but under another head. That this is a legitimate exercise is recognized by the Supreme Court in N. Sivammal v. Managing Director, Pandian Roadways Corporation, AIR 1985 SC 106. We therefore award Rs. 10,000 as compensation. It must therefore follow that the claimant is entitled to Rs. 10,490 as compensation.
27. Learned counsel for third respondent contended that in any event the liability of the insurer is limited, in the case of a passenger, to Rs. 5,000 (as the statute then stood) and therefore the insurer cannot be made liable for anything more. The claim petition contains claim for Rs. 30,000. Entire amount is claimed from third respondent. In these circumstances, it was the duty of third respondent to put forward all available contentions in the written statement. If the third respondent wanted to plead that in the event of the claim being allowed to any extent, third respondent would be liable only up to the limit of Rs. 5,000, such a plea ought to have been specifically raised. We have gone through the written statement filed by the third respondent. We do not find any such plea raised therein. Therefore, it is not open to the third respondent to raise this contention at this stage.
28. Since the contention has been argued at length on merits, we proceed to consider the same. Chapter VIII, containing Sections 93 to 111-A, was incorporated in the Act by way of amendment. Sub-section (1) of Section 94 states that no person shall use except as a passenger or cause or allow any other person to use a motor vehicle in a public place, unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person or that other person, as the case may be, a policy of insurance complying with the requirements of the chapter. In other words, a motor vehicle can be used in a public place only if it is covered by a policy of insurance complying with the requirements of the chapter.
29. Requirements of the chapter are laid down in Section 95 of the Act. Relevant portions of the section are extracted herebelow :
" 95. Requirements of policies and limits of liability--(1) In order to comply with the requirements of this chapter, a policy of insurance must be a policy which--
(b) insures the person or classes of persons specified in the policy to the extent specified in Sub-section (2)--
(i) against any liability which may be incurred by him in respect of the death of or bodily injury to, any person or damage to any property of a third party caused by or arising out of the use of the vehicle in a public place ;
(ii) against the death of, or bodily injury to, any passenger of a public service vehicle caused by or arising out of the use of the vehicle in a public place :
(2) Subject to the proviso to Sub-section (1), a policy of insurance shall cover any liability incurred in respect of any one accident up to the following limits, namely ;
(b) where the vehicle is a vehicle in which passengers are carried for hire or reward or by reason of or in pursuance of a contract of employment,--
(i) in respect of persons other than passengers carried for hire or reward, a limit of fifty thousand rupees in all;
(ii) in respect of passengers,--
(1) a limit of fifty thousand rupees in all where the vehicle is registered to carry not more than thirty passengers,--
(2) a limit of seventy-five thousand rupees in all where the vehicle is registered to carry more than thirty but not more than sixty passengers;
(3) a limit of one lakh rupees in all where the vehicle is registered to carry more than sixty passengers; and
(4) subject to the limits aforesaid, ten thousand rupees for each individual passenger where the vehicle is a motor cab and five thousand rupees for each individual passenger in any other case;
(c) save as provided in clause (d), where the vehicle is a vehicle of any other class, the amount of liability incurred;......
(5) Notwithstanding anything elsewhere contained in any law, a person issuing a policy of insurance under this section shall be liable to indemnify the person or classes of persons specified in the policy in respect of any liability which the policy purports to cover in the case of that person or those classes of persons."
30. Section 96 imposes on the insurer a " duty to satisfy judgments against persons insured in respect of third party risks". Sub-section (1) states that if, after a certificate of insurance has been issued under Section 95(4) in favour of the person by whom a policy has been effected, judgment in respect of any such liability as is required to be covered by a policy under Section 95(1)(b) is obtained against any person insured by the policy, then, the insurer shall, subject to the provisions of this section, pay to the person entitled to the benefit of the decree any sum not exceeding the sum assured payable thereunder, as if he were the judgment-debtor. Sub-section (2), in effect, states that the liability of the insurer shall not arise unless before or after the commencement of the proceedings, the insurer had notice through the court of the bringing of the proceedings. The insurer to whom notice is given shall be entitled to be made a party thereto and to defend the action on any of the grounds mentioned in Clause (a), (b) or (c). Sub-section (4) states that if the amount which an insurer becomes liable under the section to pay in respect of a liability incurred by a person insured by a policy exceeds the amount for which the insurer would, apart from the provisions of the section, be liable under the policy in respect of that liability, the insurer shall be entitled to recover the excess from that person.
31. Section 99 states, inter alia, that no settlement made by a insurer with an insured-person shall be valid unless the third party is a party to the settlement.
32. Section 110-B states, inter alia, that after enquiry into the claim, the Tribunal may make an award determining the amount of compensation which appears to it to be just and specifying the person or persons to whom compensation is to be paid and specifying the amount which shall be paid by the insurer or owner or driver of the vehicle involved in the accident or by all or any of them, as the case may be.
33. The scheme of the provisions of Chapter VIII of the Act makes it clear that the provisions are intended, inter alia, to protect the owner of the vehicle who takes out a policy of insurance. However, it is not a matter of option for the owner to insure or not to insure his vehicle. If the legislative intent was only to protect the owner of the vehicle, option would have been sufficient. But the dominant legislative intent was to protect the victims of motor vehicle accidents. That is why Section 94 bars the use of a motor vehicle in a public place unless the vehicle is covered by a policy of insurance complying with the requirements of the chapter. The requirements as set out in Section 95 are the minimum requirements and not the maximum requirements. By virtue of Section 95(1)(b), the owner is required to insure the person or class of persons specially in the policy to the extent specified in Sub-section (2) against liabilities incurred in respect of the death of or bodily injury to any person or damage to property of a third party and death of or bodily injury to any passenger. Unless the policy contains such insurance, the vehicle cannot be used. This is the minimum requirement laid down in Section 95(1)(b). Other requirements are laid down in subsection (2) in the case of vehicles of various kinds. Vehicles in which passengers are carried for hire or reward, as in the case of a bus, are dealt with in Sub-section (2)(b) both in respect of passengers and in respect of persons other than passengers. The provision lays down that the policy must cover the amount specified therein. One of the limits so prescribed is Rs. 5,000 for each individual passenger. In the very nature of things, limit indicated by the statute is the minimum necessary to enable the vehicle to be used in a public place, as contemplated in Section 94. Terms of the contract of insurance are pre-eminently matters for the contracting parties to decide. It is open to them, subject to the law of insurance and the provisions the Act, to provide for any terms. But the law prescribes what is the minimum required. This does not mean that there is any presumption in the eye of law that any and every policy contains only the minimum coverage.
34. The victim of an accident or his dependants who file claim petitions may not be in a position to find out the particulars, terms and conditions and coverage prescribed in the insurance policy, Theo wner or other person in charge of the vehicle is the person who would be in custody of the certificate of insurance and other relevant documents and if there are any terms in the policy which have relevance in the matter of deciding the liability or extent of liability of the insurer, the owner or the person in charge of the vehicle are expected to plead the same and also produce the relevant documents. If, however, they fail to do so, the claimant cannot suffer. The provisions of Section 94 and Section 95, though intended to protect the insurer, are intended to serve a much larger public interest, viz., protection of passengers or other persons involved in road accidents. While the insurance coverage undoubtedly protects the insured, it provides an easy method of recovery for claimants. Proceedings before the Tribunal are proceedings intended to determine the liabilities not only of the owner and driver but also of the insurer. The award should specify the sum of money to be paid by the insurer. That specification will enure to the benefit not only of the owner and driver but also of the claimant. The insurer will have records in its custody which will show the terms and conditions of the policy. Therefore, it is also the duty of the insurer to plead the terms of the policy which may have relevance in the matter of determining liability and passing award. The insurer has also the duty to make available to the Tribunal such records and if proof be necessary to adduce proof of such records. The same conclusion would follow from the provisions of Chapter VII of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 dealing with burden of proof. Section 101 of the Evidence Act, no doubt, states that whoever desires any court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts, must prove that those facts exist. Other rules of burden of proof are laid down in sections 102 to 105. Section 106 states that when any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. Regarding the terms of an insurance policy, it can be said that they are especially within the knowledge of the insurer. If so, the burden of proof of terms are upon the insurer.
35. If the insurer fails to plead and prove that the policy does not contain higher coverage than the statutory limit and that therefore the insurer's liability is only up to the statutory limit, in specifying in the award the sum of money payable by the insurer, the Tribunal cannot restrict the sum to the statutory limit. Entire sum awarded has to be specified as payable by the insurer. Perhaps, the insurer can seek remedies under Section 96(4) of the Act. It is unnecessary for us to consider this aspect in this case.
36. We are fortified in this view by several reported decisions. In National Insurance Co. v. Narendra Kumar  53 Comp Cas 669, a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court observed at p. 673.
"...We have no doubt that the intention of the Legislature was to prescribe by statute the minimum liability which must be borne by the insurance company and the minimum amount which must be covered by a policy made by an insurer in respect of a vehicle insured. There does not appear to be any comprehensible reason as to why the claim of the parties to enter into a contract for a higher amount of policy of insurance should have been inhibited. That is why there is no provision in the Act which restricts the claim of the insurer and the insured as to the terms of the contract relating to the upper limit of the amount of the policy of insurance which the parties may agree upon.........
......In other words, the compulsory insurance policy, i.e., the one prescribed by the Act is a policy which contains the minimum requirements of coverage. The comprehensive third party liability may, however, cover against the legal liability for bodily injury or death of any party, even if it oversteps the limit provided for in the Act. .........Ordinarily, a plaintiff or a claimant must prove every pie of his claim to the hilt and the burden lies squarely on him to plead and prove his claim but Section 106 provides an exception to the general, rule. It is common place that the amount of an insurance policy would be within the exclusive knowledge of the insurer and the insured. Both parties filed written statements before the Tribunal and no such plea was taken on behalf of the insurance company that the policy was drawn up strictly in terms of the Motor Vehicles Act and that consequently the insurance company could not be made liable for a higher amount than the one prescribed by the Act. As we have already observed, the amount of policy was not disclosed by any of the parties. When the claimants asked for a larger amount of compensation and claimed it against all respondents it was the duty of the insurance company to disclose the amount of the insurance policy and bring on record the policy itself. The plea should have been clearly taken in its written statement if it wanted to resist the claim as stated by the petitioner."
37. In Rehana v. Abdul Majeed 60 Comp Cas 893, a Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court observed at p. 896 :
" The burden lay upon the insurance company to prove this fact which they have failed to do. There is no evidence adduced on behalf of the insurance company to show and prove that under the said insurance policy their liability was only to the tune of Rs. 10,000 in case of an accident and not beyond that. It was for the insurance company to plead and prove the terms and conditions of the policy by which the said tempo was insured and that on that basis their liability was limited to the tune of Rs. 10,000 per passenger. In these circumstances, we are of the opinion that the said insurance company is also liable for the full amount of compensation awarded to the claimants."
38. Learned counsel for the appellant contended that the insurer cannot raise the defence about the extent of its liability as it is not one of the defences contemplated in Section 96(2) of the Act. In support of this contention, he relied on the decision in United India Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Kalyani  58 Comp Cas 746 (Ker) and New India Assurance Co, Ltd. v. O. V. Radhakrishnan  ACJ 475. In view of what we have held above, it is unnecessary for us to consider these decisions or this contention. These decisions, according to learned counsel for the third respondent, require reconsideration.
39. The Tribunal awarded interest only at the rate of six per cent, per annum from the date of application till the date of realisation. This is also challenged by the appellant as arbitrary. Section 110CC of the Act deals with award of interest when any claim is allowed. The Tribunal may direct that in addition to the amount of compensation, simple interest shall also be paid at such rate and from such date not earlier than the date of making the claim as it may specify in this behalf. The matter is purely within the discretion of the Tribunal. This discretion is to be exercised in a reasonable manner. The accident in this case took place in 1976 and the claim petition was filed originally in 1977. Owner and driver of the vehicle concerned remained exparte. Third respondent filed a written statement raising contentions which have been rejected. The contentions do not appear to be bona fide. Insurer is not expected to wait for an award before meeting a claim for compensation. Insurer should conduct its own investigation and if satisfied about its liability, meet the claim in a reasonable way without driving the parties to litigation. Over the years, value of money has been eroded considerably and rates of interest on Government securities and other securities have risen sharply. In these circumstances, we are of the opinion that the rate of interest awarded by the Tribunal is absolutely unreasonable and unjust. We modify the rate of interest to 12 percent. per annum, simple interest.
40. In the result, award passed by the Tribunal is modified. Amount awarded is increased to Rs. 10,490 with simple interest at 12 per cent, per annum from the date of claim application till realisation and costs. The entire amount shall be paid by the insurer, third respondent. Appeal is allowed in the manner indicated above with proportionate costs against the third respondent.