advocatemmmohan

My photo

ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

WELCOME TO LEGAL WORLD

WELCOME TO MY LEGAL WORLD - FOR KNOWLEDGE IN LAW & FOR LEGAL OPINIONS - SHARE THIS

Friday, November 1, 2013

M.V. Act - Death of a 19 year old Engineer student - Apex court enhanced compensation to Rs.7,00,000 from Rs. two lakhs = Radhakrishna and another ....Appellants versus Gokul and others ....Respondents = Reported in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=40944

M.V. Act - Death of a 19 year old Engineer student - Apex court enhanced compensation to Rs.7,00,000  from Rs. two lakhs =

  Thus  the  grand  total compensation of the applicants is Rs.1,92,000/- entitled to  get  from Res 1-3 jointly or separately.”
The appellants challenged the award  of  the  Tribunal  by  filing  an
appeal under Section 173 of the Act but could not persuade  the  High  Court
to grant substantial enhancement in  the  amount  of  compensation  and  the
appeal was disposed of with a direction to respondent Nos. 1  to  3  to  pay
additional compensation of Rs.8,000 with interest at  the  rate  of  6%  per
annum. =
“So far as the award of compensation  in  case  of  children  is
           concerned, Shri Justice Chandrachud has divided  them  into  two
           groups, 
the first group between the age group of 5 to  10  years
           and 
the second group between the age group of 10 to 15 years.
 In
           case of children between the age group  of  5  to  10  years,  a
           uniform sum of Rs 50,000 has been held to be payable by  way  of
           compensation, 
to which the conventional figure of Rs 25,000  has
           been added and 
as such to  the  heirs  of  the  14  children,  a
           consolidated sum of Rs 75,000 each, has been awarded. 
So far  as
           the children in the age group of 10 to 15 years,  
there  are  10
           such children who died on the fateful day and having found their
           contribution to the family at Rs 12,000 per annum, 
11 multiplier
           has been applied, particularly, depending upon the  age  of  the
           father and 
then the conventional compensation of Rs  25,000  has
           been added to each case and 
consequently, the heirs of  each  of
           the  deceased  above  10  years  of  age,  have   been   granted
           compensation to the tune of Rs 1,57,000 each.  
In  case  of  the
           death of an infant, there may  have  been  no  actual  pecuniary
           benefit derived by its parents during the child's lifetime.  
But
           this will not necessarily bar the parents' claim and prospective
           loss  will  found  a  valid  claim  provided  that  the  parents
           establish that they had a reasonable  expectation  of  pecuniary
           benefit if the child had lived. 
whether there
           exists a reasonable expectation of pecuniary advantage is always
           a mixed question of fact and  law.  
There  are  several  decided
           cases on this point, providing the guidelines for  determination
           of compensation in such cases but we do not think  it  necessary
           for us to advert, as the claimants had not adduced any materials
           on the reasonable expectation of pecuniary benefits,  which  the
           parents expected. 
In case of  a  bright  and  healthy  boy,  his
           performances in the school, it would be easier for the authority
           to arrive at the compensation amount,  which  may  be  different
           from another sickly, unhealthy, rickety child and  bad  student,
           but as has been stated earlier, not  an  iota  of  material  was
           produced before Shri Justice Chandrachud to enable him to arrive
           at a just compensation in such  cases  and,  therefore,  he  has
           determined the same on an approximation. 
“.......... Having considered several  subsequent  decisions  of
           this Court, we are of the  view  that  where  the  deceased  was
           married, the deduction towards personal and living  expenses  of
           the deceased, should be one-third (1/3rd) where  the  number  of
           dependent family members is 2 to 3, one-fourth (1/4th) where the
           number of dependent family members is  4  to  6,  and  one-fifth
           (1/5th) where the number of  dependent  family  members  exceeds
           six.

           Where the deceased was a bachelor  and  the  claimants  are  the
           parents, the deduction follows a different principle. In  regard
           to bachelors, normally, 50% is deducted as personal  and  living
           expenses, because it is assumed that a bachelor  would  tend  to
           spend more  on  himself.  
Even  otherwise,  there  is  also  the
           possibility of his getting married in a  short  time,  in  which
           event the contribution to the parent(s) and siblings  is  likely
           to be cut drastically.  
Further,  subject  to  evidence  to  the
           contrary, the father is likely to have his own income  and  will
           not be considered as a dependant and 
the mother  alone  will  be
           considered as a dependant. 
In the absence  of  evidence  to  the
           contrary,  brothers  and  sisters  will  not  be  considered  as
           dependants, because they will either be independent and earning,
           or married, or be dependent on the father.

           Thus even if the deceased is survived by parents  and  siblings,
           only the mother would be considered to be a dependant,  and  50%
           would be treated as the personal  and  living  expenses  of  the
           bachelor and 50% as the contribution  to  the  family.  
However,
           where the family of the bachelor is large and dependent  on  the
           income of the deceased, as in a case  
where  he  has  a  widowed
           mother and  large  number  of  younger  non-earning  sisters  or
           brothers, his personal and living expenses may be restricted  to
           one-third and contribution to the family will be taken  as  two-
           third.”


 “We therefore hold that the multiplier to be used should  be  as
           mentioned in Column (4) of the table above (prepared by applying
           Susamma Thomas (1994) 2 SCC 176, Trilok Chandra (1996) 4 SCC 362
           and Charlie (2005) 10 SCC 720), 
which starts with  an  operative
           multiplier of 18 (for the age groups of 15 to 20 and  21  to  25
           years), 
reduced by one unit for every five years, that  is  
M-17
           for 26 to 30 years, 
M-16 for 31 to 35 years, 
M-15 for 36  to  40
           years, 
M-14 for 41 to 45 years, and 
M-13 for  46  to  50  years,
           
then reduced by two units for every five years,  that  is, 
 M-11
           for 51 to 55 years, 
M-9 for 56 to 60 years, 
M-7  for  61  to  65  years and 
M-5 for 66 to 70 years.”
 Thereafter, a conventional amount in the range of Rs 5000 to  Rs
           10,000 may be added as loss of estate.  Where  the  deceased  is
           survived by his widow, another conventional amount in the  range
           of 5000 to 10,000 should be added under  the  head  of  loss  of
           consortium. But no amount is to be awarded  under  the  head  of
           pain, suffering or hardship caused to the  legal  heirs  of  the
           deceased.


           The funeral expenses, cost of transportation  of  the  body  (if
           incurred) and cost of any  medical  treatment  of  the  deceased
           before death (if incurred) should also be added.”

  In Lata Wadhwa’s case, the accident had  occurred  on  03.03.1989  and
this Court awarded  compensation  of  Rs.4,10,000  to  the  parents  of  the
deceased children who were students of Classes VI to X.   
In  M.S.  Grewal’s
case,  the  accident  had  occurred  on  28.5.1995.   This   Court   awarded
compensation of  Rs.5,00,000  to  the  parents  of  the  children  who  were
students of IV, V  and  VI  classes.   
In  Anil  Kumar  Mishra’s  case,  the
accident had occurred on 23.6.1993 and the victim of  accident,  who  was  a
student of final year Engineering was awarded compensation of Rs.9,06,000.

14.   In  the  present  case,  the  accident  occurred  on  20.1.2003.   The
deceased was 19 years old and was a  student  of  Engineering  course.   The
Tribunal determined the compensation by  taking  his  annual  income  to  be
Rs.15,000 and deducted 1/3rd towards personal  expenses.   In  Arvind  Kumar
Mishra’s case, the Bench proceeded on the assumption that  after  completion
of the Engineering course,  the  appellant  could  have  been  appointed  as
Assistant Engineer and earn Rs.60,000 per annum.   However, keeping in  view
the degree of disability, his estimated earning was taken as  Rs.42,000  per
annum and accordingly the amount of compensation was awarded.   By  applying
the same yardstick and having regard to  the  age  of  the  parents  of  the
deceased, i.e., 45 and 42 respectively, we feel that ends  of  justice  will
be served by  awarding  a  lump  sum  compensation  of  Rs.7,00,000  to  the
appellants.

15.   In the result, the appeal is partly allowed.   The  impugned  judgment
is modified and it is declared that the  appellants  shall  be  entitled  to
compensation of Rs.7,00,000 with interest at the rate of  6%  per  annum  on
the enhanced amount with effect from  the  date  of  filing  petition  under
Section 166 of the Act.

16.    Respondent  No.3  is  directed  to  pay  the   amount   of   enhanced
compensation and interest  within  a  period  of  three  months  by  getting
prepared two demand drafts of equal amount in the names of  appellant  Nos.1
and 2.  It will be open to respondent No.3 to recover from respondent  Nos.1
and 2 their respective shares of the compensation.


                                                      NON-REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9858  OF 2013
                  (Arising out of SLP(C) No. 1056 of 2008)


Radhakrishna and another                                 ....Appellants

                                   versus

Gokul and others                                         ....Respondents






                               J U D G M E N T

G.S. SINGHVI, J.

1.    Leave granted.

2.    Feeling dissatisfied with the meagre enhancement of  Rs.8,000  granted
by the Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High  Court  in  the  amount  of
compensation  determined  by  Additional  Motor  Accident  Claims  Tribunal,
Barwaha (West), Nimar (for  short,  ‘the  Tribunal’),  the  appellants  have
filed this appeal.
3.    Nilesh (son of the appellants) was killed in a  road  accident,  which
occurred on 20.1.2003, when the motorcycle on which he was going along  with
his friend Rohit was hit by the truck belonging to respondent No.1.

4.    The appellants filed  a  petition  under  Section  166  of  the  Motor
Vehicles Act, 1988 (for short, ‘the Act’) for award of compensation  to  the
tune of Rs.50,60,000.  
Their claim was founded on the following assertions:
      (i)   The accident was caused due to rash  and  negligent  driving  of
      the truck owned by respondent No.1, which was insured with  respondent
      No.3 – United India Insurance Co.
      (ii)  At the time of accident, the deceased was 19 years  old  and  he
      was a student of degree course in Engineering.
      (iii) After completion of study, the deceased was expected  to  get  a
      good job as an Engineer and earn substantial salary.

5.    In the written statement filed by  them,  the  owner  and  the  driver
(respondent Nos. 1 and 2) claimed that  the  truck  was  duly  insured  with
respondent No.3 and the compensation, if  any,  was  payable  by  respondent
No.3.  In a separate statement, respondent  No.3  denied  its  liability  by
asserting that the driver of the truck and the  motorcyclist  did  not  have
valid driving licences.  It was further pleaded that the appellants are  not
entitled to compensation because the deceased was travelling  as  a  pillion
rider.

6.    On the pleadings of the parties, the  Tribunal  framed  the  following
issues:
      “1.   Whether the Resp-2 by driving the truck No. MP-11A/2453 in  rash
      & negligent manner caused the accident with the motor cycle No. MP  10
      D 42/4 driven by Resp-4 coming from opposite direction?


      2.    Whether the pillion rider on the motor cycle, i.e., the  son  of
      applicants Nilesh died due to physical injuries received in  the  said
      accident?


      3.    Whether the truck No. MP/11A/2454 was being driven in  violation
      of Insurance policy & provision  of  the  M.V.  Act  at  the  time  of
      accident, If yes its effect?


      4.    Whether the motor cycle No. MP 10 D 4214  was  being  driven  in
      violation of Insurance policy & provision of M.V.  Act?  If  Yes,  its
      effect?


      5.    Whether the applicant is entitled to get compensation.  If  yes,
      what amount and from whom?


      6.    Relief and Cost.”




7.    After analyzing the evidence produced by  the  parties,  the  Tribunal
answered issues No.1 to 4 in favour of the appellants.
While  dealing  with
the issue relating to the quantum of compensation, the Tribunal referred  to
the  statement  of  appellant  No.1  Radhakrishna  Soni  and  the  documents
produced by him and observed:
      “The age of Nilesh is stated to be 19 years by the  applicant  at  the
      time of accident which is supported by school record. 
As the  deceased
      was studying at  the  time  of  death,  his  probable  income  can  be
      determined at Rs.15,000/- p.a. from which  1/3  is  deducted  for  the
      annual dependency  of  the  applicants.  
It  is  proper  to  apply  17
      multiplier keeping in view the age of the  deceased.  Accordingly  the
      total  dependency  amount  is  Rs.10,000x17=Rs.1,70,000.  
Due  to  the
      untimely death of son the applicant are deprived from love & affection
      of son. 
So each applicant is  entitled  to  Rs.10,000  is  the  annual
      dependency of the applicants. 
It is  proper  to  apply  17  multiplier
      keeping in view the age of the deceased Rs.1,70,000. 
Apart  from  this
      Rs.2000/- is awarded  for  funeral  expenses.  
Thus  the  grand  total compensation of the applicants is Rs.1,92,000/- entitled to  get  from Res 1-3 jointly or separately.”



8.    The appellants challenged the award  of  the  Tribunal  by  filing  an
appeal under Section 173 of the Act but could not persuade  the  High  Court
to grant substantial enhancement in  the  amount  of  compensation  and  the
appeal was disposed of with a direction to respondent Nos. 1  to  3  to  pay
additional compensation of Rs.8,000 with interest at  the  rate  of  6%  per
annum.

9.    We have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the  record.
 For deciding the question whether the appellants  are  entitled  to  higher
compensation, it will be useful to notice some of the precedents.  In  Sarla
Verma v. D.T.C. (2009) 6 SCC 121, a  two-Judge  Bench  of  this  Court  took
cognizance  of  the  lack  of  uniformity  and   consistency   in   awarding
compensation to the victims of accidents caused by motor vehicles,  referred
to the judgments in U.P.S.R.T.C. v. Trilok Chandra (1996) 4 SCC  362,  G.M.,
Kerala SRTC v. Susamma Thomas (1994)  2  SCC  176  and  made  the  following
observations:

           “Assessment   of   compensation   though    involving    certain
           hypothetical considerations, should nevertheless  be  objective.
           Justice  and  justness  emanate  from  equality  in   treatment,
           consistency and thoroughness in adjudication, and  fairness  and
           uniformity in the decision-making  process  and  the  decisions.
           While it may not be possible to have mathematical  precision  or
           identical awards in  assessing  compensation,  same  or  similar
           facts should  lead  to  awards  in  the  same  range.  When  the
           factors/inputs are the same, and  the  formula/legal  principles
           are the same, consistency and uniformity, and not divergence and
           freakiness, should be the result of adjudication  to  arrive  at
           just compensation. In Susamma Thomas  (1994)  2  SCC  176,  this
           Court stated:

                 “16. … The proper method of computation is  the  multiplier
                 method.  Any   departure,   except   in   exceptional   and
                 extraordinary  cases,  would  introduce  inconsistency   of
                 principle,  lack  of   uniformity   and   an   element   of
                 unpredictability, for the assessment of compensation.”

           Basically only  three  facts  need  to  be  established  by  the
           claimants for assessing compensation in the case of death:
                 (a) age of the deceased;
                 (b) income of the deceased; and
                 (c) the number of dependants.
                 The issues to be determined by the Tribunal  to  arrive  at
                 the loss of dependency are:
                 (i) additions/deductions to be made  for  arriving  at  the
                 income;
                 (ii) the deduction to be made towards the  personal  living
                 expenses of the deceased; and
                 (iii) the multiplier to be applied with  reference  to  the
                 age of the deceased.


           If these determinants are standardised, there will be uniformity
           and consistency in the decisions. There will be lesser need  for
           detailed evidence. It will also  be  easier  for  the  insurance
           companies to settle accident claims without delay.

           To  have  uniformity  and  consistency,  the  Tribunals   should
           determine compensation in cases of death, by the following well-
           settled steps:


           Step 1 (Ascertaining the multiplicand)
           The income of the deceased per annum should be  determined.  Out
           of the said income a deduction should be made in regard  to  the
           amount which the deceased would have spent on himself by way  of
           personal and living expenses. The balance, which  is  considered
           to be the contribution to the dependant family, constitutes  the
           multiplicand.


           Step 2 (Ascertaining the multiplier)
           Having regard to the age of the deceased and  period  of  active
           career, the appropriate multiplier should be selected. This does
           not mean ascertaining the number of years he would have lived or
           worked  but  for  the  accident.  Having   regard   to   several
           imponderables  in  life  and  economic  factors,  a   table   of
           multipliers with reference to the age  has  been  identified  by
           this Court. The multiplier should be chosen from the said  table
           with reference to the age of the deceased.


           Step 3 (Actual calculation)
           The  annual  contribution  to  the  family  (multiplicand)  when
           multiplied by such multiplier gives the “loss of dependency”  to
           the family.


           Thereafter, a conventional amount in the range of Rs 5000 to  Rs
           10,000 may be added as loss of estate.  Where  the  deceased  is
           survived by his widow, another conventional amount in the  range
           of 5000 to 10,000 should be added under  the  head  of  loss  of
           consortium. But no amount is to be awarded  under  the  head  of
           pain, suffering or hardship caused to the  legal  heirs  of  the
           deceased.


           The funeral expenses, cost of transportation  of  the  body  (if
           incurred) and cost of any  medical  treatment  of  the  deceased
           before death (if incurred) should also be added.”



      The Bench  then  considered  the  question  whether  there  should  be
addition to the income for future prospects and observed:
           “In view of the  imponderables  and  uncertainties,  we  are  in
           favour of adopting as a rule of thumb, an  addition  of  50%  of
           actual salary to  the  actual  salary  income  of  the  deceased
           towards future prospects, where the deceased had a permanent job
           and was below 40 years. (Where  the  annual  income  is  in  the
           taxable range, the words  “actual  salary”  should  be  read  as
           “actual salary less tax”). The addition should be  only  30%  if
           the age of the deceased was 40 to 50 years. There should  be  no
           addition, where the age of the deceased is more than  50  years.
           Though the evidence  may  indicate  a  different  percentage  of
           increase, it is necessary to standardise the addition  to  avoid
           different yardsticks  being  applied  or  different  methods  of
           calculation being adopted. Where the deceased was  self-employed
           or  was  on  a  fixed  salary  (without  provision  for   annual
           increments, etc.), the courts will usually take only the  actual
           income at the time of death. A  departure  therefrom  should  be
           made only  in  rare  and  exceptional  cases  involving  special
           circumstances.”



      The next issue considered by the Bench was  whether  there  should  be
deduction  for  personal  and  living   expenses.    After   noticing   some
precedents, the Bench observed:

           “.......... Having considered several  subsequent  decisions  of
           this Court, we are of the  view  that  where  the  deceased  was
           married, the deduction towards personal and living  expenses  of
           the deceased, should be one-third (1/3rd) where  the  number  of
           dependent family members is 2 to 3, one-fourth (1/4th) where the
           number of dependent family members is  4  to  6,  and  one-fifth
           (1/5th) where the number of  dependent  family  members  exceeds
           six.

           Where the deceased was a bachelor  and  the  claimants  are  the
           parents, the deduction follows a different principle. In  regard
           to bachelors, normally, 50% is deducted as personal  and  living
           expenses, because it is assumed that a bachelor  would  tend  to
           spend more  on  himself.  
Even  otherwise,  there  is  also  the
           possibility of his getting married in a  short  time,  in  which
           event the contribution to the parent(s) and siblings  is  likely
           to be cut drastically.  
Further,  subject  to  evidence  to  the
           contrary, the father is likely to have his own income  and  will
           not be considered as a dependant and 
the mother  alone  will  be
           considered as a dependant. 
In the absence  of  evidence  to  the
           contrary,  brothers  and  sisters  will  not  be  considered  as
           dependants, because they will either be independent and earning,
           or married, or be dependent on the father.

           Thus even if the deceased is survived by parents  and  siblings,
           only the mother would be considered to be a dependant,  and  50%
           would be treated as the personal  and  living  expenses  of  the
           bachelor and 50% as the contribution  to  the  family.  
However,
           where the family of the bachelor is large and dependent  on  the
           income of the deceased, as in a case  
where  he  has  a  widowed
           mother and  large  number  of  younger  non-earning  sisters  or
           brothers, his personal and living expenses may be restricted  to
           one-third and contribution to the family will be taken  as  two-
           third.”




      Finally, the complex issue relating to application of  multiplier  was
examined and decided in the following words:

           “We therefore hold that the multiplier to be used should  be  as
           mentioned in Column (4) of the table above (prepared by applying
           Susamma Thomas (1994) 2 SCC 176, Trilok Chandra (1996) 4 SCC 362
           and Charlie (2005) 10 SCC 720), 
which starts with  an  operative
           multiplier of 18 (for the age groups of 15 to 20 and  21  to  25
           years), 
reduced by one unit for every five years, that  is  
M-17
           for 26 to 30 years, 
M-16 for 31 to 35 years, 
M-15 for 36  to  40
           years, 
M-14 for 41 to 45 years, and 
M-13 for  46  to  50  years,
           
then reduced by two units for every five years,  that  is, 
 M-11
           for 51 to 55 years, 
M-9 for 56 to 60 years, 
M-7  for  61  to  65  years and 
M-5 for 66 to 70 years.”


10.   However, the issue relating to award of compensation  to  the  parents
of the deceased, who was a student was neither dealt  with  nor  decided  in
Sarla Verma’s case.   In Lata Wadhwa v. State of Bihar (2001) 8 SCC  197,  a
three-Judge Bench of this Court entertained  a  writ  petition  filed  under
Article 32 of the Constitution for ordering prosecution of the  officers  of
the Tata Iron and Steel Company  and  their  agents  and  servants  for  the
alleged negligence in organizing  a  function  at  Jamshedpur  in  which  60
people were killed due to fire accident and for issue of a direction to  the
State Government as well as the company to pay compensation to the  victims.
  For  assessing  the  compensation  payable  to  the  victims,  this  Court
requested the former Chief Justice Shri  Y.V.  Chandrachud  to  examine  the
matter and submit a report.  The first part of the report submitted by  Shri
Justice Y.V. Chandrachud dealt with the cases of death and the  second  part
dealt with the cases of burn  injury.   After  taking  cognizance  of  three
judgments of the Andhra  Pradesh  High  Court  in  Chairman,  A.P.  SRTC  v.
Shafiya Khatoon 1985 ACJ 212, Bhagwan Das v. Mohd. Arif 1987  ACJ  1052  and
A.P. SRTC v. G. Ramanaiah 1988 ACJ 223 and the  views  of  the  British  Law
Commission wherein adoption of  the  multiplier  method  was  advocated  and
approved, Justice Chandrachud took the contribution  of  children  above  10
years of age at Rs.12,000 per annum, applied multiplier of 11 and  suggested
award of conventional amount of Rs.25,000.  After considering the  arguments
of Ms. Rani Jethmalani and  Shri  F.S.  Nariman,  learned  counsel  for  the
parties, this Court directed payment of higher compensation.  While  dealing
with the cases of children, the Court observed as under:

           “So far as the award of compensation  in  case  of  children  is
           concerned, Shri Justice Chandrachud has divided  them  into  two
           groups, 
the first group between the age group of 5 to  10  years
           and 
the second group between the age group of 10 to 15 years.
 In
           case of children between the age group  of  5  to  10  years,  a
           uniform sum of Rs 50,000 has been held to be payable by  way  of
           compensation, 
to which the conventional figure of Rs 25,000  has
           been added and 
as such to  the  heirs  of  the  14  children,  a
           consolidated sum of Rs 75,000 each, has been awarded. 
So far  as
           the children in the age group of 10 to 15 years,  
there  are  10
           such children who died on the fateful day and having found their
           contribution to the family at Rs 12,000 per annum, 
11 multiplier
           has been applied, particularly, depending upon the  age  of  the
           father and 
then the conventional compensation of Rs  25,000  has
           been added to each case and 
consequently, the heirs of  each  of
           the  deceased  above  10  years  of  age,  have   been   granted
           compensation to the tune of Rs 1,57,000 each.  
In  case  of  the
           death of an infant, there may  have  been  no  actual  pecuniary
           benefit derived by its parents during the child's lifetime.  
But
           this will not necessarily bar the parents' claim and prospective
           loss  will  found  a  valid  claim  provided  that  the  parents
           establish that they had a reasonable  expectation  of  pecuniary
           benefit if the child had lived. 
This principle was laid down  by
           the House of Lords in the famous  case  of  Taff  Vale  Rly.  v.
           Jenkins and Lord Atkinson said thus:

                 “… all that is necessary is that a  reasonable  expectation
                 of pecuniary benefit should be entertained  by  the  person
                 who sues. It is quite  true  that  the  existence  of  this
                 expectation is an inference of fact — there must be a basis
                 of fact from which the inference can reasonably  be  drawn;
                 but  I  wish  to  express  my  emphatic  dissent  from  the
                 proposition that it is necessary  that  two  of  the  facts
                 without which the inference cannot  be  drawn  are,  first,
                 that the deceased earned money in the  past,  and,  second,
                 that he or she contributed to the support of the plaintiff.
                 These are, no doubt, pregnant pieces of evidence, but  they
                 are only pieces of evidence; and  the  necessary  inference
                 can, I think, be drawn from circumstances  other  than  and
                 different from them.”

           At the same time, it  must  be  held  that  a  mere  speculative
           possibility of benefit is not sufficient. 
Question whether there
           exists a reasonable expectation of pecuniary advantage is always
           a mixed question of fact and  law.  
There  are  several  decided
           cases on this point, providing the guidelines for  determination
           of compensation in such cases but we do not think  it  necessary
           for us to advert, as the claimants had not adduced any materials
           on the reasonable expectation of pecuniary benefits,  which  the
           parents expected. 
In case of  a  bright  and  healthy  boy,  his
           performances in the school, it would be easier for the authority
           to arrive at the compensation amount,  which  may  be  different
           from another sickly, unhealthy, rickety child and  bad  student,
           but as has been stated earlier, not  an  iota  of  material  was
           produced before Shri Justice Chandrachud to enable him to arrive
           at a just compensation in such  cases  and,  therefore,  he  has
           determined the same on an approximation. 
Mr  Nariman,  appearing
           for TISCO on his own, submitted that the compensation determined
           for the children of all age groups could be doubled, as  in  his
           views also, the determination made is grossly  inadequate.  
Loss
           of a child to the parents is  irrecoupable,  and  no  amount  of
           money  could  compensate  the  parents.  Having  regard  to  the
           environment  from  which  these  children  were  brought,  their
           parents being reasonably well-placed officials of Tata Iron  and
           Steel Company, and on considering the submission of Mr  Nariman,
           
we would direct that the compensation amount  for  the  children
           between the age group of 5 to 10 years should be three times. 
In
           other  words,  it  should  be  Rs  1.5  lakhs,  to   which   the
           conventional figure of Rs 50,000 should be added  and  thus  the
           total amount in each case would be Rs 2.00 lakhs. 
So far as  the
           children between the age group of 10 to 15 years, they  are  all
           students of Class VI to Class X and are children of employees of
           TISCO. 
TISCO itself has a tradition that every employee can  get
           one of his children employed in the Company.  
Having  regard  to
           these facts, in their case, the contribution of  Rs  12,000  per
           annum appears to  us  to  be  on  the  lower  side  and  in  our
           considered opinion, the contribution should  be  Rs  24,000  and
           instead of 11 multiplier, the appropriate  multiplier  would  be
           15. 
Therefore, the compensation, so calculated on the  aforesaid
           basis should be worked  out  to  Rs  3.60  lakhs,  to  which  an
           additional sum of Rs 50,000 has to be  added,  thus  making  the
           total amount payable at Rs 4.10 lakhs for each of the  claimants
           of the aforesaid deceased children.”




11.   In M.S. Grewal v. Deep Chand Sood (2001) 8 SCC 151, a two-Judge  Bench
considered issues of  negligence  resulting  in  death  of  14  students  of
Dalhausie Public School.
The students died due to drowning in  River  Beas.
After holding that the teachers of the  school  were  negligent,  the  Court
referred to the judgment in Lata Wadha’s case as also the judgment in  G.M.,
Kerala SRTC v. Susamma Thomas (supra) and proceeded to observe:

           “In Lata Wadhwa case however, this Court came  to  a  conclusion
           that upon acceptability of the multiplier method  and  depending
           upon the fact situation, namely, the involvement of TISCO in its
           tradition that every  employee  can  get  one  of  his  children
           employed in the Company and having regard to the  multiplier  15
           the compensation  was  calculated  at  Rs  3.60  lakhs  with  an
           additional sum of Rs 50,000 as a conventional figure making  the
           total amount payable at Rs 4.10 lakhs for each of the  claimants
           of the deceased children.

           The decision in Lata Wadhwa thus, is definitely a guiding factor
           in the matter of award of compensation wherein children died due
           to an unfortunate incident as noticed more fully hereinbefore in
           this judgment.

           Having considered the matter in its proper perspective  and  the
           applicability of the multiplier  method  and  without  even  any
           further material on record, we do feel it expedient to note that
           though Mr Bahuguna attributed the quantum granted  by  the  High
           Court as strangely absurd, we, however, are not in a position to
           lend our concurrence therewith. It is  not  that  the  award  of
           compensation at Rs 5 lakhs can be attributed to be the resultant
           effect of either emotions or  sentiments  or  the  High  Court's
           anguish over the incident.
The High Court  obviously  considered
           the  overall  situation  as  regards  social  placement  of  the
           students. 
As stated hereinafter the School presently is  one  of
           the affluent schools in the country and the  fee  structure  and
           other incidentals are so high  that  it  would  be  a  well-nigh
           impossibility to think of admission in the School  at  even  the
           upper middle class level.
Obviously the  School  caters  to  the
           need of the upper strata  of  the  society  and  if  the  Second
           Schedule of the Motor Vehicles Act  can  be  termed  to  be  any
           guide, the compensation could have been a much larger sum.
Thus
           in the factual situation, award of compensation at  Rs  5  lakhs
           cannot by  any  stretch  be  termed  to  be  excessive.
Another
           redeeming feature of Mr Bahuguna's submissions pertains  to  the
           theory of ability to pay: audited accounts  have  been  produced
           for the year 1995 depicting a situation, though  not  of  having
           stringency but the situation truly cannot but be ascribed to  be
           otherwise comfortable to pay as directed by the High Court.  The
           matter, however, was prolonged in the law courts  in  the  usual
           manner and it took nearly  six  years  for  its  final  disposal
           before this Court — these six years, however, had  rendered  the
           financial stability of the  School  concerned  in  a  much  more
           stronger situation than what it was in the year 1995.
 The School
           as of date stands out to be one of the most affluent schools  in
           the country, as such ability to pay cannot be termed  to  be  an
           issue in the matter and in the wake thereto we are not  inclined
           to deal with the same in any further detail.”




12.   At this stage, we may usefully notice the  judgment  in  Arvind  Kumar
Mishra v. New India Assurance Company Limited (2010) 10 SCC  254.
 In  that
case,  a  two-Judge  Bench  considered  the  issue  relating  to  award   of
compensation to the appellant who had suffered grievous injuries in  a  road
accident.
At the time of the accident, the appellant’s  age  was  25  years
and he was a student of Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical).
The  Tribunal
had awarded compensation of Rs.2,50,000.  The  High  Court  enhanced  it  to
Rs.3,50,000.
After noticing the judgments in G.M., Kerala SRTC  v.  Susamma
Thomas (supra) and Sarla Verma  v.  DTC  (supra),  the  Bench  enhanced  the
amount of compensation to  Rs.9,06,000.  
The reasons for this  approach  are
discernible from paragraphs 13 to 15 of the judgment,  which  are  extracted
below:

         
“13. The appellant at the time of  accident  was  a  final  year
           Engineering (Mechanical) student in a reputed college. 
He was  a
           remarkably brilliant student  having  passed  all  his  semester
           examinations  in  distinction.  
Due  to  the  said  accident  he
           suffered grievous injuries and remained in coma  for  about  two
           months. 
His studies got interrupted as he was moved to different
           hospitals for surgeries and other treatments.  
For  many  months
           his condition remained serious; his right hand was amputated and
           vision seriously affected. 
These  multiple  injuries  ultimately
           led  to  70%  permanent  disablement.  
He  has   been   rendered
           incapacitated and a career ahead of him in his  chosen  line  of
           Mechanical Engineering got dashed for  ever. 
 He  is  now  in  a
           physical condition that he requires domestic help throughout his
           life. 
He has been deprived of pecuniary benefits which he  could
           have  reasonably  acquired  had  he   not   suffered   permanent
           disablement to the extent of 70% in the accident.

           14.   On completion of Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from
           the prestigious institute like BIT, it can be reasonably assumed
           that he would have got a good job. 
The appellant has  stated  in
           his evidence that in the campus interview  he  was  selected  by
           Tata as well as Reliance Industries and was offered pay  package
           of Rs. 3,50,000 per annum. 
Even if that is not accepted for want
           of any evidence in support thereof, there would  not  have  been
           any difficulty for him in getting some decent job in the private
           sector. 
Had he  decided  to  join  government  service  and  got
           selected, he would have been put in the pay scale for  Assistant
           Engineer and would have at least earned Rs.  60,000  per  annum.
           
Wherever he joined, he had a fair chance of some  promotion  and
           remote chance of some high position. 
But uncertainties  of  life
           cannot be ignored taking relevant factors into consideration. In
           our opinion, it is fair and  reasonable  to  assess  his  future
           earnings  at  Rs.  60,000  per  annum  taking  the  salary   and
           allowances payable to an Assistant Engineer in public employment
           as the basis. 
Since he suffered 70%  permanent  disability,  the
           future earnings may be discounted by 30%  and,  accordingly, 
 we
           estimate upon the facts that  the  multiplicand  should  be  Rs.
           42,000 per annum.

           15.   The appellant at the time of accident was about 25  years.
           As per the decision of this Court in  Sarla  Verma  v.  DTC  the
           operative multiplier would be 18. The loss of future earnings by
           multiplying the multiplicand of Rs. 42,000 by a multiplier of 18
           comes to Rs. 7,56,000. The damages to compensate  the  appellant
           towards loss of future earnings,  in  our  considered  judgment,
           must be Rs. 7,56,000. The  Tribunal  awarded  him  Rs.  1,50,000
           towards treatment including the medical expenses.  The  same  is
           maintained as it  is  and,  accordingly,  the  total  amount  of
           compensation  to  which  the  appellant  is  entitled   is   Rs.
           9,06,000.”



13.   In Lata Wadhwa’s case, the accident had  occurred  on  03.03.1989  and
this Court awarded  compensation  of  Rs.4,10,000  to  the  parents  of  the
deceased children who were students of Classes VI to X.   
In  M.S.  Grewal’s
case,  the  accident  had  occurred  on  28.5.1995.   This   Court   awarded
compensation of  Rs.5,00,000  to  the  parents  of  the  children  who  were
students of IV, V  and  VI  classes.   
In  Anil  Kumar  Mishra’s  case,  the
accident had occurred on 23.6.1993 and the victim of  accident,  who  was  a
student of final year Engineering was awarded compensation of Rs.9,06,000.

14.   In  the  present  case,  the  accident  occurred  on  20.1.2003.  
 The
deceased was 19 years old and was a  student  of  Engineering  course.   The
Tribunal determined the compensation by  taking  his  annual  income  to  be
Rs.15,000 and deducted 1/3rd towards personal  expenses.  
 In  Arvind  Kumar
Mishra’s case, the Bench proceeded on the assumption that  after  completion
of the Engineering course,  the  appellant  could  have  been  appointed  as
Assistant Engineer and earn Rs.60,000 per annum.   
However, keeping in  view
the degree of disability, his estimated earning was taken as  Rs.42,000  per
annum and accordingly the amount of compensation was awarded.   
By  applying
the same yardstick and having regard to  the  age  of  the  parents  of  the
deceased, i.e., 45 and 42 respectively, we feel that ends  of  justice  will
be served by  awarding  a  lump  sum  compensation  of  Rs.7,00,000  to  the
appellants.

15.   In the result, the appeal is partly allowed.   The  impugned  judgment
is modified and it is declared that the  appellants  shall  be  entitled  to
compensation of Rs.7,00,000 with interest at the rate of  6%  per  annum  on
the enhanced amount with effect from  the  date  of  filing  petition  under
Section 166 of the Act.

16.    Respondent  No.3  is  directed  to  pay  the   amount   of   enhanced
compensation and interest  within  a  period  of  three  months  by  getting
prepared two demand drafts of equal amount in the names of  appellant  Nos.1
and 2.  It will be open to respondent No.3 to recover from respondent  Nos.1
and 2 their respective shares of the compensation.

                                                       ......………………………..….J.
                                              [G.S. SINGHVI]



New Delhi,                                        ...….……..…..………………..J.
October 31, 2013.                                 [GYAN SUDHA MISRA]





-----------------------
15


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.