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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Accident claim - M.V.Act - Claimed Rs.53 lakhs - Tribunal awarded Rs. three lakhs and High court enhanced to eight lakhs - apex court enhanced to Rs. 19 lakhs - self-employed the actual income at the time of death should be taken into account for determining the loss of income unless there are extraordinary and exceptional circumstances. = SANJAY VERMA ... APPELLANT (S) VERSUS HARYANA ROADWAYS ... RESPONDENT (S)= 2014 (January part ) judis.nic.in/supreme court/filename=41184

Accident claim - M.V.Act - Claimed Rs.53 lakhs - Tribunal awarded Rs. three lakhs and High court enhanced to eight lakhs - apex court enhanced to Rs. 19 lakhs - self-employed the actual income at the time of death should  be  taken  into account for determining the loss of income unless  there  are  extraordinary and exceptional  circumstances. =
According  to
the claimant, apart from other injuries, he had suffered a fracture  of  the
spinal  cord  resulting  in  paralysis  of  his  whole   body.    In   these
circumstances the claimant filed an application before  the  Motor  Accident
Claim Tribunal claiming compensation of a total sum of Rs.53,00,000/-  under
different heads enumerated below:
|(i)     |Pecuniary loss                        |Rs. 24,00,000.00    |
|(ii)    |Expenditure incurred in               |Rs.   2,00,000.00   |
|        |treatment till now                    |                    |
|        |                                      |                    |
|(iii)   |Expenses which shall be               |Rs.  3,00,000.00    |
|        |incurred in future in treatment       |                    |
|(iv)    |Cost of attendant from the            |Rs.  2,00,000.00    |
|        |date of accident till he remains      |                    |
|        |alive                                 |                    |
|(v)     |Passage and diet money                | Rs.  2,00,000.00   |
|(vi)    |Pain and suffering and                |Rs. 20,00,000.00    |
|        |mental agony                          |                    |
|        |Total                                 |Rs.53,00,000.00     |

 “………At the time of issuance of  handicapped  certificate  I  had  also
      given 100% disability certificate but thinking that he might  improve,
      I had given a  certificate  80%  disability.   The  cutting  over  the
      certificate No.16 G has been done by  me  which  bears  my  signature.
      This cutting was also done at the time of issuance of the certificate.
       As per the prescribed standard, at the time when patient was examined
      by the medical board, he was also suffering from the  total  paralysis
      and 100% disability  but  because  patient’s  toe  was  having  slight
      movement, therefore, it was unanimously  decided  that  for  the  time
      being his disability is 80%.”
   It is also established by the materials on record that  the  age  of
the claimant at the time of the accident was 25 years and  he  was  married.
The age of his wife was 22 years  and  at  the  time  of  the  accident  the
claimant had one son who was 1½ years of age.  Apart from  the  above,  from
the deposition of the claimant himself (PW-2) it transpires that  after  the
accident he is not able to do any work and “one person is always  needed  to
look after him”.
 The appellant was a self employed person. Though he  had  claimed  a
monthly  income  of  Rs.5,000/-,  the  Income  Tax  Returns  filed  by   him
demonstrate that he had paid income tax on an annual income of  Rs.41,300/-.
 No fault, therefore, can be found in the order  of  the  High  Court  which
proceeds on the basis that the annual income of the claimant at the time  of
the accident was Rs.41,300/-.
Reshma Kumari and Ors. vs. Madan  Mohan  and  Anr.[5]  reiterated  the  view
taken in Sarla Verma (supra) to the effect that in respect of a  person  who
was on a fixed salary without provision for annual  increments  or  who  was
self-employed the actual income at the time of death should  be  taken  into
account for determining the loss of income unless  there  are  extraordinary
and exceptional  circumstances.
  Undoubtedly, the same principle  will  apply  for  determination  of
loss of income on account of an accident resulting in the  total  disability
of the victim as in the present case.  Therefore, taking  into  account  the
age of the claimant (25 years) and the fact that he had a steady income,  as
evidenced by the income-tax returns, we are of the view that an addition  of
50% to the income that the claimant was earning at the time of the  accident
would be justified.

we  hold  that  the
claimant is entitled to enhanced compensation                        as  set
out in the table below:


|Sl. |Head                        |Amt. as per High   |Amt. as per this  |
|No. |                                |Court                      |Court             |
|    |                                   |(in Rs.)                    |(in Rs.)          |
|(i) |Loss of Income          |6,19,500.00           |10,53,150.00      |
|(ii)|Medical Expenses     |      1,38,552.00    |1,38,552.00       |
|(iii|Future Treatment      |                   |         3,00,000.00       |
|)   |                                    |                   |                  |
|    |                                    |50,000.00          |                  |
|    |                                    |                            |3,00,000.00       |
|(iv)|Pain and suffering and  |                   |                  |
|    |mental agony            |                   |                  |
|(v) |Cost of attendant from  |                       |2,00,000.00       |
|    |the                     |                   |                  |
|    |date of accident till he|                   |                  |
|    |remains                 |                   |                  |
|    |alive                   |                   |                  |
|    |Total=                        |8,08,052.00        |19,91,702.00      |


22.     In view of the enhancement  made  by  us,  we  do  not  consider  it
necessary to modify the rate of interest awarded by the High Court  i.e.  6%
from the date of the application i.e. 24.08.1999  to  the  date  of  payment
which will also be payable on the enhanced amount of compensation.

23.     The appeal filed by the claimant is allowed as indicated above.

 2014 (January part ) judis.nic.in/supreme court/filename=41184
P SATHASIVAM, RANJAN GOGOI, SHIVA KIRTI SINGH

                      REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 5256 OF 2008


SANJAY VERMA                    ...     APPELLANT (S)

                                   VERSUS

HARYANA ROADWAYS                ...     RESPONDENT (S)



                               J U D G M E N T


RANJAN GOGOI, J.


1.      This quantum appeal is by the claimant seeking  further  enhancement
of the compensation awarded by the High Court of Uttaranchal at Nainital  by
its Order dated 27.03.2006.

2.      The facts relevant for the purpose of the present  adjudication  may
be noticed at the outset.

      On 12.08.1998 the appellant-claimant was  travelling  from  Ambala  to
Kurukshetra  in  a  bus  belonging  to  the  Haryana  Roadways  and  bearing
registration No. HR-07PA-0197. On  the  way  the  driver  of  the  bus  lost
control over the vehicle resulting in an accident in  the  course  of  which
the claimant suffered multiple injuries.  He was initially  treated  in  the
civil hospital Pehwa and thereafter transferred to  the  PGIMER,  Chandigarh
on  14.08.1998.   The  appellant  underwent  surgery   on   16.09.1998   and
eventually  he  was  released  from  the  hospital  and  referred   to   the
Rehabilitation Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru  Hospital,  Aligarh.   According  to
the claimant, apart from other injuries, he had suffered a fracture  of  the
spinal  cord  resulting  in  paralysis  of  his  whole   body.    In   these
circumstances the claimant filed an application before  the  Motor  Accident
Claim Tribunal claiming compensation of a total sum of Rs.53,00,000/-  under
different heads enumerated below:
|(i)     |Pecuniary loss                        |Rs. 24,00,000.00    |
|(ii)    |Expenditure incurred in               |Rs.   2,00,000.00   |
|        |treatment till now                    |                    |
|        |                                      |                    |
|(iii)   |Expenses which shall be               |Rs.  3,00,000.00    |
|        |incurred in future in treatment       |                    |
|(iv)    |Cost of attendant from the            |Rs.  2,00,000.00    |
|        |date of accident till he remains      |                    |
|        |alive                                 |                    |
|(v)     |Passage and diet money                | Rs.  2,00,000.00   |
|(vi)    |Pain and suffering and                |Rs. 20,00,000.00    |
|        |mental agony                          |                    |
|        |Total                                 |Rs.53,00,000.00     |


3.      The learned Tribunal by its Award dated  12.06.2000  held  that  the
accident occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus and  that
the claimant is entitled to compensation.   The  total  amount  due  to  the
claimant was quantified at Rs. 3,00,000/- under the heads “Loss of  Income”,
“reimbursement of medical expenses” and “pain and suffering”.   The  learned
Tribunal also awarded interest at the rate of 9% from  24.08.1999  i.e.  the
date of filing of the claim application till date of payment.

4.      Aggrieved, the claimant filed an appeal before the High Court  which
enhanced the compensation to Rs.8,08,052/-.  The High Court  quantified  the
amount due to the  claimant  towards  “loss  of  income”  at  Rs.6,19,500/-;
Rs.1,38,552/- on account of “medical expenses” and an amount of  Rs.50,000/-
“for future treatment” and “pain and suffering”.  The High  Court,  however,
reduced the interest payable to 6% per annum from the date of the filing  of
the application.  Aggrieved, this appeal has been filed.

5.      We have heard Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned counsel for the appellant-
claimant and Dr. Monika Gusain, learned counsel for the respondent.

6.      Learned counsel for the appellant has contended  that  in  computing
the amount due to the  appellant  on  account  of  loss  of  income,  future
prospects of increase of income had not been taken into account by the  High
Court; the multiplier adopted by the courts below is 15 whereas the  correct
multiplier should have been 18.  In so far as the amount awarded         for
“future treatment” and “pain and suffering” is  concerned,  learned  counsel
has submitted that not only the amount of Rs.50,000/- is grossly  inadequate
but High Court has committed an error in clubbing  the  two  heads  together
for award of compensation.  In this regard the  learned  counsel  has  drawn
the attention of the Court to the amounts  claimed  in  the  claim  petition
under the aforesaid two  heads,  as  already  noticed  hereinabove.   It  is
submitted by the learned counsel that the amount of compensation  is  liable
to be enhanced.

7.      Controverting the submissions advanced on behalf of  the  appellant,
Dr. Monika Gusain learned counsel for the  respondent-Haryana  Roadways  has
submitted that the enhancement made by the High Court to the extent of  over
Rs.5,00,000/- is more than an adequate measure of  the  “just  compensation”
that the  Motor  Vehicles  Act,  1988  (hereinafter  for  short  the  “Act”)
contemplate.  It is also the submission  of  the  learned  counsel  for  the
respondent that in awarding the enhanced amount the  High  Court  has  taken
into account all the relevant  circumstances  for  due  computation  of  the
amount of compensation payable under the Act.



8.      Before proceeding any further it would be appropriate to  take  note
of the evidence tendered by PW-1,  Dr.  Shailendra  Kumar  Mishra,  who  was
examined in the case on behalf of the claimant.  The relevant  part  of  the
evidence of PW-1 is extracted below:

      “………..Medical Board granted 80% disability of Sanjay Verma during  the
      course of examination.  Today I re-examined Mr. Sanjay  Verma  in  the
      Court, at the time of issuance of certificate, it was the opinion that
      his condition may improve, but even after such  a  long  duration  his
      condition has deteriorated, in place of improvement.

         Today he has become cent percent paralyzed.  Now  Sanjay  Verma  is
      unable to perform his day to day needs such as latrine  and  urination
      could not be done of his own.  A  tube  has  been  inserted  into  his
      urinary tract along with a bag which he has to use entire life.  There
      will be no control over his toilet and urine which he might have  been
      doing on his bed.

         He will not be  able  to  move  throughout  his  life  due  to  the
      paralysis below waist and he is now not been able to do any work.  The
      Spinal chord will be pressurized due to the facture of back  bone  and
      he will have to bear the pain throughout his life.  Sanjay Verma  will
      not be able to lead his normal life and will have remain in  the  same
      condition throughout his life.  Due to his laying position he will  be
      effected by bed sores which will be excessive painful.  Due to lack of
      urination in  normal  course  his  kidney  may  be  damaged  and  this
      possibility will always remain.”

      “………At the time of issuance of  handicapped  certificate  I  had  also
      given 100% disability certificate but thinking that he might  improve,
      I had given a  certificate  80%  disability.   The  cutting  over  the
      certificate No.16 G has been done by  me  which  bears  my  signature.
      This cutting was also done at the time of issuance of the certificate.
       As per the prescribed standard, at the time when patient was examined
      by the medical board, he was also suffering from the  total  paralysis
      and 100% disability  but  because  patient’s  toe  was  having  slight
      movement, therefore, it was unanimously  decided  that  for  the  time
      being his disability is 80%.”




9.      It is also established by the materials on record that  the  age  of
the claimant at the time of the accident was 25 years and  he  was  married.
The age of his wife was 22 years  and  at  the  time  of  the  accident  the
claimant had one son who was 1½ years of age.  Apart from  the  above,  from
the deposition of the claimant himself (PW-2) it transpires that  after  the
accident he is not able to do any work and “one person is always  needed  to
look after him”.

10.     Having noticed the evidence of PW-1 Dr. Shailendra Kumar Mishra  and
the other facts and  circumstances  of  the  case  we  may  now  proceed  to
determine as to whether the compensation awarded by  the  High  Court  under
the different heads noticed above is just and fair compensation  within  the
meaning of Section 168 of the Act.

11.     The appellant was a self employed person. Though he  had  claimed  a
monthly  income  of  Rs.5,000/-,  the  Income  Tax  Returns  filed  by   him
demonstrate that he had paid income tax on an annual income of  Rs.41,300/-.
 No fault, therefore, can be found in the order  of  the  High  Court  which
proceeds on the basis that the annual income of the claimant at the time  of
the accident was Rs.41,300/-.  Though in Sarla Verma (Smt.) and  Others  vs.
Delhi Transport Corporation and Another[1] this Court had held that in  case
of a  self  employed  person,  unless  there  are  special  and  exceptional
circumstances, the annual income at the time of death is to  be  taken  into
account, a Coordinate Bench in Santosh Devi vs. National  Insurance  Company
Ltd. and Others[2] has taken a different view  which  is  to  the  following
effect:
        “14. We find it extremely difficult to fathom any rationale for the
        observation made in para 24 of the judgment  in  Sarla  Verma  case
        that where the deceased was self-employed or was on a fixed  salary
        without provision for  annual  increment,  etc.,  the  courts  will
        usually take only the actual income at the  time  of  death  and  a
        departure  from  this  rule  should  be  made  only  in  rare   and
        exceptional cases involving special circumstances. In our view,  it
        will be naïve to say that the wages or total emoluments/income of a
        person who is self-employed or who is employed on  a  fixed  salary
        without provision for annual increment, etc., would remain the same
        throughout his life.”



12.     The view taken in Santosh Devi (supra)  has  been  reiterated  by  a
Bench of three Judges in Rajesh and Others vs. Rajbir  Singh  and  Others[3]
by holding as follows :

        “8. Since, the Court in Santosh  Devi  case  actually  intended  to
        follow the principle in the case of salaried persons as  laid  down
        in Sarla Verma case and to make it applicable  also  to  the  self-
        employed and persons on fixed  wages,  it  is  clarified  that  the
        increase in the case of those groups is not  30%  always;  it  will
        also have a reference to the age. In other words, in  the  case  of
        self-employed or persons with fixed wages, in  case,  the  deceased
        victim was below 40 years, there must be an addition of 50% to  the
        actual income of the deceased  while  computing  future  prospects.
        Needless to say that the  actual  income  should  be  income  after
        paying the tax, if any. Addition should be 30% in case the deceased
        was in the age group of 40 to 50 years.




        9. In Sarla Verma case, it has been stated  that  in  the  case  of
        those above 50 years, there shall be no addition. Having regard  to
        the fact that in the case of those self-employed or on fixed wages,
        where there is normally no age of superannuation,  we  are  of  the
        view that it will only be just and equitable to provide an addition
        of 15% in the case where the victim is between the age group of  50
        to 60 years so as to make the compensation  just,  equitable,  fair
        and reasonable. There shall normally be no addition thereafter.”




13.     Certain parallel developments will now have to  be  taken  note  of.
In Reshma Kumari and Others vs.  Madan Mohan and  Another[4],  a  two  Judge
Bench of this Court while considering the following questions took the  view
that the issue(s) needed resolution by a larger Bench
      “(1) Whether the multiplier specified in the Second Schedule  appended
      to the Act should be scrupulously applied in all the cases?


      (2) Whether for determination of the multiplicand,  the  Act  provides
      for any criterion, particularly as  regards  determination  of  future
      prospects?”



14.     Answering the above reference a three Judge Bench of this  Court  in
Reshma Kumari and Ors. vs. Madan  Mohan  and  Anr.[5]  reiterated  the  view
taken in Sarla Verma (supra) to the effect that in respect of a  person  who
was on a fixed salary without provision for annual  increments  or  who  was
self-employed the actual income at the time of death should  be  taken  into
account for determining the loss of income unless  there  are  extraordinary
and exceptional  circumstances.   Though  the  expression  “exceptional  and
extraordinary circumstances” is not capable of any  precise  definition,  in
Shakti Devi vs. New India Insurance Company Limited  and  Another[6]   there
is a practical application of the aforesaid principle.  The  near  certainty
of the regular  employment  of  the  deceased  in  a  government  department
following the retirement of his father was held to  be  a  valid  ground  to
compute the loss of income  by  taking  into  account  the  possible  future
earnings. The said loss of income, accordingly,  was  quantified  at  double
the amount that the deceased was earning at the time of his death.

15.     Undoubtedly, the same principle  will  apply  for  determination  of
loss of income on account of an accident resulting in the  total  disability
of the victim as in the present case.  Therefore, taking  into  account  the
age of the claimant (25 years) and the fact that he had a steady income,  as
evidenced by the income-tax returns, we are of the view that an addition  of
50% to the income that the claimant was earning at the time of the  accident
would be justified.

16.     Insofar as the multiplier is  concerned,  as  held  in  Sarla  Verma
(supra) (para 42) or as prescribed under the Second  Schedule  to  the  Act,
the correct multiplier in the present case cannot be 15 as held by the  High
Court.    We are of the view that the  adoption  of  the  multiplier  of  17
would be appropriate. Accordingly, taking into account the addition  to  the
income and the higher multiplier the total amount  of  compensation  payable
to the claimant under the head “loss of income” is  Rs.  10,53,150/-    (Rs.
41300 + Rs. 20650= Rs. 61,950 x 17).

17.     In so far as the  medical  expenses  is  concerned  as  the  awarded
amount of  Rs.1,38,552/-  has  been  found  payable  on  the  basis  of  the
bills/vouchers etc. brought on record  by  the  claimant  we  will  have  no
occasion to cause any alteration  of  the  amount  of  compensation  payable
under the head “medical expenses”.  Accordingly, the  finding  of  the  High
Court in this regard is maintained.

18.     This will bring us to the grievance of the  appellant-claimant  with
regard to award of  compensation  of  Rs.50,000/-  under  the  head  “future
treatment” and “pain and suffering”. In view of the decisions of this  Court
in Raj Kumar  vs.  Ajay  Kumar  and  Another[7]   and   Sanjay  Batham   vs.
Munnalal Parihar and Others[8] there can be no  manner  of  doubt  that  the
above two heads of compensation are distinct and  different  and  cannot  be
clubbed together.  We will, therefore, have to severe the  two  heads  which
have been clubbed together by the High Court.

      In so far as “future treatment” is concerned we have no doubt that the
claimant will be required to take  treatment  from  time  to  time  even  to
maintain the present condition of his health. In fact, the claimant  in  his
deposition has  stated  that  he  is  undergoing  treatment  at  the  Apollo
Hospital  at  Delhi.   Though  it  is  not  beyond  our  powers   to   award
compensation beyond what has been claimed [Nagappa vs. Gurudayal  Singh  and
others[9]], in the facts of the present case we are of  the  view  that  the
grant  of  full  compensation,  as  claimed  in  the  claim  petition   i.e.
Rs.3,00,000/- under the head “future treatment”,  would  meet  the  ends  of
justice.  We, therefore, order accordingly.

19.     The claimant had claimed an amount of Rs.20,00,000/- under the  head
“pain and suffering and mental agony”.  Considering the  injuries  sustained
by the claimant which had left him paralyzed for life and  the  evidence  of
PW-1 to the effect that the claimant is likely to suffer  considerable  pain
throughout his life, we are of the view that the claimant should be  awarded
a further sum of Rs. 3,00,000/-  on account of “pain  and  suffering”.    We
must,  however,  acknowledge  that  monetary  compensation  for   pain   and
suffering is at best a palliative, the correct dose of which,  in  the  last
analysis, will have to be determined on a case to case basis.

20.      In the  claim  petition  filed  before  the  Motor  Accident  Claim
Tribunal the claimant has prayed for an amount of  Rs.2,00,000/-  being  the
cost of attendant from the date of accident  till  he  remains  alive.   The
claimant in his deposition had stated that “he needs one person to  be  with
him all the  time”.   The  aforesaid  statement  of  the  claimant  is  duly
supported by the evidence of PW-1 who has described  the  medical  condition
of the claimant in detail.  From the aforesaid materials, we  are  satisfied
that  the  claim  made  on  this  count  is  justified  and  the  amount  of
Rs.2,00,000/- claimed by the claimant under the  aforesaid  head  should  be
awarded in full. We order accordingly.

21.     In view of the discussions that have  preceded,  we  hold  that  the
claimant is entitled to enhanced compensation                        as  set
out in the table below:


|Sl. |Head                    |Amt. as per High   |Amt. as per this  |
|No. |                        |Court              |Court             |
|    |                        |(in Rs.)           |(in Rs.)          |
|(i) |Loss of Income          |6,19,500.00        |10,53,150.00      |
|(ii)|Medical Expenses        |      1,38,552.00  |1,38,552.00       |
|(iii|Future Treatment        |                   |3,00,000.00       |
|)   |                        |                   |                  |
|    |                        |50,000.00          |                  |
|    |                        |                   |3,00,000.00       |
|(iv)|Pain and suffering and  |                   |                  |
|    |mental agony            |                   |                  |
|(v) |Cost of attendant from  |                   |2,00,000.00       |
|    |the                     |                   |                  |
|    |date of accident till he|                   |                  |
|    |remains                 |                   |                  |
|    |alive                   |                   |                  |
|    |Total=                  |8,08,052.00        |19,91,702.00      |


22.     In view of the enhancement  made  by  us,  we  do  not  consider  it
necessary to modify the rate of interest awarded by the High Court  i.e.  6%
from the date of the application i.e. 24.08.1999  to  the  date  of  payment
which will also be payable on the enhanced amount of compensation.

23.     The appeal filed by the claimant is allowed as indicated above.


                                       ...…………………………CJI.
                                        [P. SATHASIVAM]



                                        .........………………………J.
                                        [RANJAN GOGOI]




                                                       …..........……………………J.
                                        [SHIVA KIRTI SINGH]
NEW DELHI,
JANUARY  29, 2014.
-----------------------
[1]      (2009) 6 SCC 121
[2]      (2012) 6 SCC 421
[3]      (2013) 9 SCC 54
[4]      (2009) 13 SCC 422
[5]      (2013) 9 SCC 65 (para 36)
[6]      (2010) 14 SCC 575
[7]      (2011) 1 SCC 343
[8]      (2011) 10 SCC 665
[9]      (2003) 2 SCC 274

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