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  • Aryan Agarwal

#CaseBrief: Khenyei v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd.


PETITIONER: Khenyei

RESPONDENT: New India Assurance Co. Ltd.

BENCH: H.L. Dattu, S.A. Bobde, Arun Mishra


FACTS

The case of Khenyei vs. New India Assurance Co. Ltd. & Ors. involves a collision between a bus and a trailer-truck, resulting in injuries to the claimants. The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. is the insurer of the bus, but the High Court concluded, based on additional evidence, that it is not the insurer of the trailer-truck.

 

ISSUE

The main question is whether a claimant can recover the entire compensation from one joint tortfeasor when an accident is caused by the composite negligence of drivers, with a determination of 2/3rd negligence for the trailer-truck driver and 1/3rd for the bus driver.

 

HOLDING

The court holds that in a case of composite negligence, where injuries result from the combined wrongful acts of joint tortfeasors, the liability is joint and several. Apportionment of compensation between tortfeasors is not permissible, and the claimant has the right to recover the entire amount from the easiest target/solvent defendant.

 

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The injuries occurred when the bus and trailer-truck collided, leading to legal proceedings. The High Court, after considering additional evidence, concluded that the New India Assurance Co. Ltd. is not the insurer of the trailer-truck and is not liable for 2/3rd of the awarded compensation.

 

RATIONALE

The court emphasizes that in cases of composite negligence, the claimant can sue any or all joint tortfeasors for the full amount of damages. The court rejects the idea of apportionment and highlights that the claimant can choose to pursue compensation from the easiest target, and the law supports the claimant's right to recover the entire amount.

 

DICTA

The court cites legal authorities, including Justice G.P. Singh's Law of Torts and Winfield and Jolowicz's Law of Torts, to underscore the principle that in cases of composite negligence, apportionment is not permissible. The court also discusses the concept of joint and several liability and rejects the notion of proportionate liability.

 

ARGUMENTS

The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. argued that it is not the insurer of the trailer-truck and, therefore, not liable for 2/3rd of the compensation. The claimant argued for the right to recover the entire compensation from the insurer of the bus.

 

JUDGMENT

The court grants leave and concludes that in cases of composite negligence, the claimant can recover the entire compensation from any joint tortfeasor without apportionment. The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. is not held liable for 2/3rd of the compensation, as it is not the insurer of the trailer-truck. The court affirms the joint and several liability of joint tortfeasors in cases of composite negligence.

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