Kerala High Court slammed State Insurance Department which argued that a person crossing a road using a zebra crossing should be more careful. The court made this statement while considering a case where a 50-year-old lady crossing the road died after a police vehicle hit her. The State Insurance Department had challenged the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal’s award of Rs Rs.48,32,140 in favour of the kin of a 50 year-old woman who died in the accident.
S. Gopinathan who appeared for the Insurance Department said that the woman who died in the accident had been careless and negligent while crossing the road. He even made a statement that said the woman should have been more aware of the surroundings and the heavy traffic on the road in this area. Kerala High Court mentioned that unless it is specifically pleaded and proved that there was a clear case of negligence on part of pedestrian, such a statement cannot be made. Moreover, apart from the statement, the department has not produced any evidence that proves that the victim has been careless while crossing the road, a national highway in Cherukunnu.
The victim Doreena Rola Mendenza was the headmistress of St.Joseph L.P. School. The Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal awarded Rs 48,32,140 in favour of the kin. The court said, “That apart, it is baffling for this Court that an argument is made out by the appellant that, when a pedestrian crosses the road at the earmarked place for such purpose – which is commonly known as ‘zebra crossing’ – the rash conduct of a vehicle, in hitting him/her, should be justified on the ground that liability of care is more on the said person.”
It was argued in the court that the compensation amount granted to the victim’s kin was too large as the victim herself was careless. They even asked to reduce the amount as they claimed that there was negligence on the part of the victim too. The opposite party appearing for the victim mentioned that the Tribunal had assessed the amount in a reasonable manner. They took victim’s age and her salary into account while calculating the same. The victim was 50 years old and was drawing a monthly salary of around Rs 51,704.
According to the Rules of Road Regulations, 1989. a driver of a motor vehicle is required to slow down at a road intersection, a road junction, pedestrian crossing or a road corner, the court said it is admitted without any dispute that the police vehicle neither stopped or slowed down when the victim was crossing the road. This is a common practice in India. Many people driving a vehicle on our roads don’t care about pedestrians. The tendency among India drivers is to increase the speed of their vehicle whenever they see a person trying to cross the road. Even at a traffic signal, we would find cars and bikes parked on the zebra crossings. This leaves no space for pedestrians to cross the road properly. In many metro cities, cops have started taking action against such people. surveillance camera installed on traffic signals also issue a fine for such vehicles that are stopped on zebra crossings.