The Court noted that the only prima facie evidence before the tribunal were the police charge, copy of the first information report (FIR) and the postmortem report.
It recalled that a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court had held that when charge sheet is produced it will follow that the negligence is on the part of the person against whom the charge has been laid. The parties who wanted to object that has to adduce evidence to disprove the same.
However, the Court noted that, in the instant case, no one was examined before the tribunal to controvert the police charge.
Moreover, the respondents had admitted that the at the time of accident, the area was affected by lightning which led to the wire detaching from the cross arm.
The Court also went through relevant judgments of the Supreme Court regarding the distinction between composite negligence and contributory negligence and found that the instant case is one of composite negligence.
“In the absence of any evidence adduced from either side, the Tribunal was wrong when it found that the accident happened solely due to the negligence of the driver of the bus. The original cause for the electrocution and death is due to the negligence of the Board and its employees in not keeping the electric line intact and permitting it to hang above the road which resulted in touching the line on the bus and electrocution of the deceased while he was stepping into the bus. So, this is a clear case of composite negligence though there is no specific evidence as to the extent of liability of each tort-feasor,” the Court said in its judgment.