The civil bench of the Thimphu dzongkhag court heard the case of a de-suup hit by TATA pick-up truck on the line of duty on September 15, 2020.
The accident left the de-suup permanently disabled.
The petitioner’s jabmi has claimed a compensation of Nu 23.982 million.
The compensation, is based on Bhutan’s life expectancy being at 70 years and the petitioner being 25 at the moment, is calculated considering the salary of Nu 12,000 per month for 45 years as a de-suup.
The compensation includes, among others, expenses such as medical expenses for her treatment, the cost of diapers for 45 years, travel expenses for treatment, compensation for loss of family life, attendant(s) monthly wage for 45 years, compensation for emotional distress, and punitive damages.
The petitioner demanded that the compensations from the four alleged defendants, namely the information and communications (MoIC) minister and Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), Kuenzang Wangchuk, the owner of the Gaki automobiles in Olakha, the owner of the TATA pick up truck, Nima, and ministry of economic affairs (MoEA).
The petition also requested the court to allow Phub Gyem, the petitioner, to refund the actual medical and travel expenses to the agency that bore the expenses.
According to the petition, the MoIC and RSTA are liable to pay 16 percent of the compensation, which amounts to Nu 14.389 million for failing to implement RSTA regulations.
The petition stated that the MoIC minister and RSTA are the two principal entities that enforce the provisions of the Road Safety and Transport Act 1999 and Road Safety and Transport Regulations 1999.
“The section 9 (1) of the Act makes the Authority accountable to the minister. Therefore, the minister is legally accountable for the actions of the authority,” it read.
It stated that as per Section 8(a) of the Act, the authority is mandated to develop and implement road safety strategies.
“However, the regulation is silent on how the vehicle without brake be driven or repaired,” the petition read.
The defendant, MoIC and RSTA, is also blamed for leaving the automobile workshops like Gaki unsupervised.
The petition stated that the RSTA is mandated to inspect the roadworthiness of the commercial vehicles like the pick up truck as per Section 42 (1)(a) of the regulation. “Since the authority allowed such a vehicle that is unworthy to be driven resulted in injuring the petitioner.”
Therefore, according to the petitioner, the MoIC minister has to pay compensation of Nu 14.389 million—60 percent of the total compensation.
Kuenzang Wangchuk and Nima, according to the petition, should be liable for compensation of Nu 1.199M each. “This is because the workshop owner failed to adhere to the safety measures in the operation and conduct of the commercial venture as the rule 15 of the rules and regulations for the establishment and operation of industrial and commercial ventures in Bhutan, 1995.”
Further, it read: “It is a settled legal principle (respondeat superior) that the master is responsible for the conduct of its employee in course of the employment.”
The petition stated that Nima, as the owner of the pick-up truck, for not letting the workshop know about the truck’s malfunctioning brake. The truck was being driven by the mechanic at the time of the accident for which Nima as the owner of the truck must compensate, according to the petition.
The petition stated that the Ministry of Economic Affairs is liable for the compensations as it had failed to monitor the licence of a bar that was open. The validity of the licence issued for the Gempo Wine and Liquor Shop had expired in 2018.
“The ministry also failed to enforce its own dry day rule,” the petition stated.
According to the petition, Royal Bhutan Police charged Gembo, who drove the truck without licence to Babesa and injured the petitioner was convicted in 2021 for driving under influence of alcohol. “He was fined Nu 4,250 and was ordered to pay compensation of Nu 360,000 to the petitioner.”
The petition stated that the driver, owner of the workshop, and the vehicle owner were liable for 10 percent of the total compensation. “However, Gembo should be absolved from actual payment of compensation since he is convicted by the court of law.”
The petition stated that the owners workshop and the vehicle should pay five percent each, making it a 10 percent of the total compensation.
Phub Gyem was referred to a hospital in New Dellhi, India. Nu 7.392M was spent on her treatment, according to the petition.