Bench: S Deshmukh
The appellant plaintiff had 5acres of land in which he was cultivating dry crops. The respondent while constructing a dam in the river adjacent to the land of the plaintiff negligently allowed water from the river enter the plaintiff’s land resulting in heavy damages to the crops. As the soil in the land became unfit for cultivation the plaintiff was not able to cultivate for the subsequent 3 years. When a suit for damages was filled in the Trial Court with a plea to award Rs. 300,000, the Court awarded only Rs.10,000 to the plaintiff at the rate of 6% interest until realisation. Dissatisfied with the amount of compensation an appeal was made to the SC to increase the amount damages awarded.
Whether the SC can increase the quantum of damages awarded to the Plaintiff as per Section 12 of the Indian Evidence Act?
The prima facie liability of the respondents is established in the lower Court and need not be opened for reconsideration;however the quantum of damages has to be increased. The appellant has been deprived of his livelihood for about 3 years due to the negligent act of the respondents. The land needs to be renovated for further cultivation of dry crops. The quantum of loss suffered, and the quantum of damages awarded by the Trial Court is not proportionate.
The liability of the respondents was not disputed, however the damages awarded by the Trial Court is sufficient and need not be reopened as the verdict was given after deep consideration.
Upon verifying the documents submitted by either party to the case, the Court held that, the plaintiff was earning about Rs. 20,000 per acre approximately per annum. Therefore Rs. 1,20,000 is to be paid as damages by the respondents to the plaintiff at the rate of 6% p.a. The Court further clarified that, where the plaintiff failed to adduce the best available evidence and this caused diﬃculty in assessing damages, this cannot be a ground for refusing damages or ﬁxing nominal damages. It is for the court to determine the quantum of damages under Section 12 of the Indian Evidence Act.