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Friday, February 3, 2017

On 18.03.2012 at about 3.30 p.m., the respondent-Naval Kumar alias Rohit Kumar, who was 8 years old at the time of incident, accompanied his mother to the fields to collect “Saag” where he got electrocuted with a high tension live wire (11 KV) commonly known as Lahru-Chowari Line. He received grievous burn and other injuries and became unconscious. On the same day, FIR was registered at the instance of the mother of the respondent.= In our considered view, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case such as respondent's family background, his age (8 years), nature of permanent disability suffered by the respondent, his performance in studies, the determination of monthly/yearly income made by the High Court, expenses incurred and all the relevant factors, which are usually taken into account in awarding compensation to the victim, the respondent is held entitled for a total lump sum compensation of Rs.90,00,000/- (Rs. Ninety lacs) together with interest payable at the rate of 6% p.a. in place of Rs.1,25,00,000/- awarded by the High Court. 18) The award of Rs.90,00,000/- together with interest payable at the rate of 6% p.a., in our view, would fetch sufficient regular monthly income to the respondent by way of interest alone, if the awarded sum is deposited in the Bank and would thus take care of respondent’s upbringing and other needs for the rest of his life. The award of compensation determined by us is just and reasonable compensation payable to the respondent. 19) In view of foregoing discussion, the appeal succeeds and is allowed in part. The impugned order is modified to the extent indicated above by reducing the compensation awarded by the High Court. 20) In other words, the compensation awarded by the High Court is, accordingly, reduced from Rs.1,25,000,00/- to Rs.90,00,000/- with interest payable at the rate of 6% p.a. from the date of filing of the writ petition.

NON-REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL No.  1339 OF 2017
                    (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.9471/2015)

State of Himachal Pradesh
 & Ors.                                  ….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Naval Kumar alias
Rohit Kumar                       …Respondent(s)


                               J U D G M E N T
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
1)    Leave granted.
2)    This appeal is filed  against  the  final  judgment  and  order  dated
09.01.2015 passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla  in  Civil
Writ Petition No. 475 of 2013  whereby  the  High  Court  allowed  the  writ
petition filed by the respondent herein  and  awarded  the  compensation  of
Rs.1,25,00,000/- under different heads for the  injuries  sustained  by  the
respondent due to negligence of the State.
3)    We herein set out  the  facts,  in  brief,  to  appreciate  the  issue
involved in this appeal.
4)    On 18.03.2012 at about 3.30 p.m.,  the  respondent-Naval  Kumar  alias
Rohit Kumar, who was 8 years old at the time of incident,   accompanied  his
mother to the fields to collect “Saag” where  he  got  electrocuted  with  a
high tension live wire (11 KV) commonly known  as  Lahru-Chowari  Line.   He
received grievous burn and other injuries and became  unconscious.   On  the
same day,  FIR  was  registered  at  the  instance  of  the  mother  of  the
respondent.
5)    The respondent was initially taken to  Referal  Hospital  Chowari  for
treatment.  Thereafter he  was  referred  to  Dr.  Rajendra  Prasad  Medical
Hospital, Tanda, District Kangra, Himachal  Pradesh.   He  was  operated  on
25.03.2012 and his both  arms  were  amputated.   He  was  admitted  in  Dr.
Rajendra Prasad Medical Hospital, Tanda  w.e.f.  18.03.2012  to  03.05.2012.
The  respondent  suffered   100%   disability.    During   the   course   of
hospitalization,  the  family  of  the  respondent  had  to  incur  expenses
exceeding  Rs.2,00,000/-  including  medicines,  taxi   charges,   attendant
charges, special diet charges etc.  The respondent has  now  become  totally
dependent upon family members even for day-to-day activities for his  entire
life.  The respondent was throughout brilliant student in  his  studies  and
had to discontinue his studies after this unfortunate incident.
6)    The respondent, through his mother and natural guardian, namely,  Smt.
Lata Devi, filed writ petition being W.P. No. 475 of 2013 in the High  Court
against the appellants herein  claiming  a  compensation  of  Rs.50,00,000/-
under various heads and also stated that they  have  incurred  Rs.2,00,000/-
for medical expenses.  The respondent  also prayed for a  direction  to  the
authorities to install and maintain all the electricity  wires,  conductors,
apparatus etc. strictly in  accordance  with  the  Electricity  Act,  Rules,
Regulations etc. so that no such untoward incident would take place  in  the
future.
7)    The High Court, by impugned judgment  dated  09.01.2015,  allowed  the
writ petition filed by the respondent herein and awarded a  compensation  of
Rs.1,25,00,000/- under different heads to the respondent.
8)    Against the said judgment, the appellants have filed  this  appeal  by
way of special leave before this Court.
9)    Heard Mr. J.S. Attri, learned senior counsel for  the  appellants  and
Mr. Nishant Ramakanrao Katneshwarkar, learned counsel for the respondent.
10)   Learned counsel for the appellant-State of H.P.  while  assailing  the
legality and correctness of the impugned order urged  that  the  High  Court
erred in awarding Rs.1,25,00,000/-  to the  respondent-claimant  by  way  of
compensation  for  the  disabilities  caused  on  account  of  electrocution
suffered by the  respondent.  It  was  his  submission  that  the  award  of
compensation by the High Court is on  much  higher  side  with  no  material
evidence on record in support thereof and further it  is  essentially  based
on assumptions and presumptions, which is not legally sustainable in law.
11)    Learned  counsel  also   contended   that   though   the   respondent
unfortunately lost  his  both  the  arms  thereby  suffered  100%  permanent
disability for his whole life at  such  young  age,  yet  having  regard  to
several relevant factors governing the issue, the  compensation  awarded  by
the High Court appears to be on higher side and, hence, it  deserves  to  be
reduced so as to make it a reasonable one.
12)   In reply, learned counsel for the respondent  supported  the  impugned
order and contended that it does not call for  any  interference.  According
to learned counsel, it is based on  proper  reasoning  and  being  just  and
reasonable, therefore, does not call for any interference.
13)   Having heard the learned counsel for the parties  and  on  perusal  of
the record of the case, we find some force in the submissions urged  by  the
learned counsel for the appellant- State and,  hence,  we  are  inclined  to
interfere  in  the  impugned  order  and,   in   consequence,   reduce   the
compensation awarded by the High Court to the extent indicated infra.
14)   The short question that arises for consideration  in  this  appeal  is
whether the High Court, in the facts and  circumstances  of  the  case,  was
justified  in  awarding  Rs.1,25,00,000/-  to  the  respondent  by  way   of
compensation for the injuries sustained by the  respondent  in  an  accident
which occurred on 18.03.2012?
15)   The High Court held and, in our view, rightly  that  the  incident  in
question occurred due to negligence of the State  and  its  authorities  and
hence the State was vicariously liable to compensate the respondent for  the
 losses sustained by the respondent.  It may be  mentioned  that  the  State
rightly did not challenge this finding and hence we need  not  go  into  its
correctness.  The High Court further held and, in  our  view,  rightly  that
having regard to  the  family  background  of  the  respondent  and  further
respondent’s excellent performance as a brilliant  student  in  studies,  he
would have easily earned Rs.30,000/- per month in his life. We find no  good
ground to interfere in this finding of  fact,  which,  in  our  opinion,  is
based on proper material on record.
16)   The High Court, however, further awarded Rs.10,00,000/-  towards  loss
of companionship, life amenities/pleasures,  and  happiness,  Rs.10,00,000/-
for  pain  and  suffering,  mental  distress,  trauma  and  discomfort   and
inconvenience,  Rs.10,00,000/-  towards  attendant/nursing   expenses,   and
lastly, Rs.5,00,000/-  for  securing  artificial/robotic  limbs  and  future
medical expenses.  In our considered view, the award of  compensation  under
these 4 heads appears to be on very higher side and is not supported by  any
evidence.  It is, in our view, based  on  assumptions  and  presumptions  to
which we do not concur. In our view, entitlement under these  heads  is  one
thing and the quantum of grant of compensation under these heads is  another
thing. In this case, as  rightly  urged  by  the  learned  counsel  for  the
appellant-State that lump sum award of compensation under these heads is  on
higher side and is not supported by any evidence.   It  is,  therefore,  not
legally sustainable.
17)   In our considered  view,  taking  into  consideration  the  facts  and
circumstances of the case such as respondent's family  background,  his  age
(8 years), nature of permanent disability suffered by  the  respondent,  his
performance in studies, the determination of monthly/yearly income  made  by
the High Court, expenses incurred and all the relevant  factors,  which  are
usually taken into account in  awarding  compensation  to  the  victim,  the
respondent  is  held  entitled  for  a  total  lump  sum   compensation   of
Rs.90,00,000/- (Rs. Ninety lacs) together with interest payable at the  rate
of 6% p.a. in place of Rs.1,25,00,000/- awarded by the High Court.
18)   The award of Rs.90,00,000/- together  with  interest  payable  at  the
rate of 6% p.a., in our view, would fetch sufficient regular monthly  income
to the respondent by way of interest alone, if the awarded sum is  deposited
in the Bank and would thus take care of respondent’s  upbringing  and  other
needs for the rest of his life. The award of compensation determined  by  us
is just and reasonable compensation payable to the respondent.
19)   In view of foregoing discussion, the appeal succeeds  and  is  allowed
in part. The impugned order is modified to the  extent  indicated  above  by
reducing the compensation awarded by the High Court.
20)    In other words, the  compensation  awarded  by  the  High  Court  is,
accordingly,  reduced  from  Rs.1,25,000,00/-    to   Rs.90,00,000/-    with
interest payable at the rate of 6% p.a. from the date of filing of the  writ
petition.
21)   Let the  appellant-State  deposit  the  entire  amount,  as  has  been
awarded by this Court, within 3 months from the date of receipt of the  copy
of this judgment in the High Court or pay  to  the  respondent  through  his
parents after proper verification.

                                  ………...................................J.
                             [J. CHELAMESWAR]


      …...……..................................J.
                             [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE] New Delhi;
February 02, 2017

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