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Friday, January 9, 2015

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9972 OF 2014 (Arising out of SLP(C) NO. 2339 OF 2014) KALA DEVI & ORS. …APPELLANTS Vs. BHAGWAN DAS CHAUHAN & ORS. ….RESPONDENTS




                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                          CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9972 OF 2014
                  (Arising out of SLP(C) NO. 2339 OF 2014)

KALA DEVI & ORS.                    …APPELLANTS

                                     Vs.

BHAGWAN DAS CHAUHAN & ORS.         ….RESPONDENTS

                               J U D G M E N T

 V. GOPALA GOWDA, J.

                Leave granted.

2.   This appeal has been  filed  by  the  appellant-claimants  against  the
Judgment and order dated 31.07.2013 passed in First Appeal No. 413  of  2007
by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla, wherein the High Court  has
partly allowed the appeal filed by the appellant-claimants.

3. The necessary relevant facts are stated hereunder to appreciate the  case
with a view to ascertain whether the appellants are entitled for  relief  as
prayed in this appeal.

        On 15.12.2003, Roshan Chauhan, husband of the  appellant  Kala  Devi
was travelling in a vehicle bearing No.  HP-09A-0897(207  TATA),  which  was
being driven by respondent No. 3 Keshav Ram. When they reached  near  Narla,
Tehsil Theog, District Shimla, the vehicle got stuck due  to  snow  surfaced
road. Roshan and few others alighted and tried to push the vehicle.  In  the
process of pushing the vehicle, suddenly the vehicle slipped and hit  Roshan
and went off the road. This lead  to  the  death  of  Roshan  and  seriously
injured others who later succumbed to the same.

4.  The claimants i.e.  the  wife,  2  minor  children  and  mother  of  the
deceased filed a claim petition before the Motor Accidents Claims  Tribunal,
Shimla (in short ‘the Tribunal’) claiming Rs.12,96,000/- as compensation  on
the ground that the deceased was 25  years  of  age,  a  matriculate  and  a
driver by vocation, earning Rs.9,000/- p.m. at the time of  his  death.  The
Tribunal took the income of the deceased at Rs.3,000/- p.m. for the  purpose
of quantifying loss of dependency of the appellants. 1/3rd  of  the  monthly
income was deducted towards  personal  expenses  of  the  deceased.  As  the
deceased was 25 years of  age  at  the  time  of  his  death,  therefore  by
applying the appropriate multiplier of 17, the  compensation  determined  by
the Tribunal towards the loss of dependency  was  arrived  at  Rs.4,08,000/-
      (Rs.2,000 x 12 x  17).  A  sum  of  Rs.32,000/-  was  awarded  towards
conventional heads. Thus, a total compensation of Rs.4,40,000/- was  awarded
by the Tribunal with interest at the rate of 7.5% p.a. to the appellants.

5. Being aggrieved by the judgment and award passed  by  the  Tribunal,  the
claimant-appellants preferred First Appeal No. 413 of 2007 before  the  High
Court of  Himachal  Pradesh  at  Shimla  for  enhancement  of  compensation,
whereas the respondent-Insurance Company preferred First  Appeal  No.498  of
2007 for the reduction of the compensation awarded by the Tribunal.

6.  After hearing the parties, the High Court was of  the  view  that  there
was nothing to dislodge the income  of  the  deceased  as  assessed  by  the
Tribunal. However, it could not be applied for all of the forthcoming  years
had the deceased survived. Therefore, keeping in view the potentiality  that
the deceased could have had, a benefit of 40% increase  in  the  income  was
given by the High Court. Thus, arriving at an income of Rs.4,200/- p.m.  and
after deducting 1/3rd amount towards personal expenses, the  dependency  was
arrived at Rs.2,800/- p.m. (Rs.33,600/- p.a.).  The  appropriate  multiplier
of 18 was adopted by the High Court and arrived at a loss of  dependency  of
Rs.6,04,800/-. It was further held that the appellant-wife was entitled  for
a compensation of Rs.30,000/- for loss of consortium  and  the  minors  were
entitled to a compensation of Rs.40,000/- for loss of  love  and  affection.
Further, the appellants were also entitled for Rs.25,000/-  under  the  head
of conventional charges.  Thus, the total amount of compensation  calculated
by the High Court  was  Rs.6,99,800/-  with  9%  interest  p.a.  with  costs
quantified at Rs.5,000/-.  The  appeal  filed  by  the  respondent-Insurance
Company was dismissed by the High Court.
  Not satisfied with the order of the High Court, the appellants have  filed
this appeal, urging various grounds.

7. It has been contended by the learned counsel for the appellants that  the
income of the deceased at the time of his  death  was  Rs.9,000/-  p.m.  and
therefore, the assessment of loss of dependency based on Rs.3,000/- p.m.  as
the income of the deceased is wrong.

8. On the other hand, the learned  counsel  for  the  respondents  contended
that the computation of the compensation is after thorough analysis  of  the
evidence on record in detail and the High Court has correctly  assessed  the
monthly income of the deceased as Rs.3,000/- and thereafter gave  a  further
increase  of  40%  towards  future  prospects   and   enhanced   the   total
compensation of Rs.6,99,800/- at 9% interest p.a.

9. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties. The  deceased  was  25
years of age at the time of death  and  was  a  matriculate,  working  as  a
driver with a valid license for driving heavy motor vehicles.  A  driver  in
Himachal Pradesh on an average earns Rs.9,000/- p.m. as  per  Minimum  Wages
Act. Therefore, the courts below have failed to take judicial notice of  the
same and the fact that the  post  of  a  driver  is  a  skilled  job.  Thus,
considering the facts and circumstances of  the  case,  we  take  the  gross
monthly income of the deceased at Rs.9,000/- p.m., i.e.  Rs.1,08,000/-  p.a.
On deduction of 20% towards income tax, the net income comes to  Rs.86,400/-
p.a. Further, deducting 1/3rd towards personal  expenses  and  applying  the
appropriate multiplier of 18,  the  loss  of  dependency  is  calculated  at
Rs.10,36,800/-.

10. Further, the High Court has failed in not following the principles  laid
down by this Court in Rajesh & Ors. v. Rajbir Singh & Ors.[1] and  erred  in
awarding a meagre sum  of  just  Rs.30,000/-  under  the  head  of  loss  of
consortium, Rs.40,000/- towards loss of love  and  affection.   Accordingly,
we award Rs.1,00,000/-  towards  loss  of  consortium,  Rs.25,000/-  towards
funeral expenses and Rs.1,00,000/- to  each  minor  child  of  the  deceased
(i.e.  Rs.2,00,000/-)  towards  loss  of  love  and  affection  as  per  the
guidelines laid down by this Court in Juju Kuruvila  &  Ors.  v.  Kunjujamma
Mohan & Ors.[2].

11. The High Court has further erred by not  awarding  compensation  towards
loss of estate to the appellant-wife.  We  accordingly  award  Rs.1,00,000/-
towards the same,  as  per  the  principles  laid  down  by  this  Court  in
Kalpanaraj & Ors. v. Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation[3].

12. In the result, the appellants shall be entitled  to  compensation  under
the following heads:

|1.       |Loss of dependency         |Rs. 10,36,800/-        |
|2.       |Loss of Consortium         |Rs.  1,00,000/-        |
|3.       |Loss of Estate             |Rs.  1,00,000/-        |
|4.       |Loss of love and affection |Rs.  2,00,000/-        |
|5.       |Funeral expenses           |Rs.    25,000/-        |
|         |TOTAL                      |Rs. 14,61,800/-        |

Thus, the total compensation payable to the appellants  by  the  respondent-
Insurance Company will be Rs.14,61,800/- with interest at  the  rate  of  9%
p.a. from the date of filing of the application till the  date  of  payment.
Accordingly, we allow this appeal in awarding Rs.14,61,800/-  with  interest
@9% p.a.

         The  compensation  awarded  shall  be   apportioned   between   the
appellants equally with  proportionate  interest.  The  respondent-Insurance
Company shall either pay by way of demand draft in favour of the  appellants
or deposit the same with interest as  awarded  by  this  Court,  before  the
Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, after deducting the amount already paid  to
the appellants pursuant to the impugned Judgment and Award, if  any,  within
six weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of this judgment. No Costs.


                                                   ……………………………………………………………J.
                             [V. GOPALA GOWDA]



                                                   ……………………………………………………………J.
                              [ADARSH KUMAR GOEL]

 New Delhi,
 October 31, 2014

-----------------------
[1]
      [2]  (2013) 9 SCC 54
[3]
      [4] (2013)9 SCC 166
[5]
      [6]  2014(5)SCALE 479

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|NON REPORTABLE    |





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