Supreme Court enhances compensation for victim under Motor Vehicles Act Makes amends for the loss of marriage prospects due to 75 percent disability The Supreme Court has awarded an enhanced compensation of Rs.15.9 lakhs from the previous amount of Rs.2.3 lakhs to a motor vehicle accident victim. The Bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Aravind Kumar was adjudicating an...
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Supreme Court enhances compensation for victim under Motor Vehicles Act
Makes amends for the loss of marriage prospects due to 75 percent disability
The Supreme Court has awarded an enhanced compensation of Rs.15.9 lakhs from the previous amount of Rs.2.3 lakhs to a motor vehicle accident victim.
The Bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Aravind Kumar was adjudicating an appeal filed in the Sri Lakshmana Gowda B.N. vs The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. and Ans case. It granted additional compensation towards ‘loss of marriage prospects’ since the claimant remained unmarried due to disability.
Observing the 75 percent body injury and the inability of the claimant to work, the Bench ruled that enhanced compensation could not be denied on the ground that his employer was not examined, or no letter was produced from him. The tribunal and the Court could not ignore the evidence of disability such as the disability certificate and identity card issued by the Directorate for the Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens.
In 2007, the claimant, Sri Lakshmana Gowda B.N., met with a road accident and sustained injuries. The offending vehicle was insured by the respondent, the Oriental Insurance Company.
The claimant filed a petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act, seeking compensation. He stated that he was 24 years old, a graduate, and was employed as a marketing executive with Rs.8,000 per month salary. The accident caused 48 percent permanent physical disability and 75 percent disability to his body.
However, the Motor Vehicles Claims Tribunal construed the claimant’s income to be Rs.3,000 and awarded total compensation of Rs. 2,36,812 along with interest at 8 percent per annum. The tribunal marked Rs.50,000 towards pain, injuries, and suffering; Rs.1,16,812 for medical and incidental expenses; Rs.10,000 for the loss of earnings during the laid-up period; Rs.40,000 for permanent disability; and Rs.20,000 for the loss of amenities in future life.
Aggrieved by the outcome, the claimant challenged the compensation amount before the High Court and sought enhancement.
In January 2019, the High Court affirmed the compensation amount but reduced the interest to 6 percent per annum. Therefore, the claimant approached the Supreme Court.
The Bench enhanced the compensation towards ‘pain and suffering’ to an additional Rs.50,000, observing that the claimant was hospitalized for 10 days and was in continuous treatment thereafter. It noted that additionally, the claimant had produced a salary certificate in support of his monthly income of Rs.8,000 and had deposed on oath that he was unable to discharge his normal duties.
The Judges stated that the compensation amount required re-computation in view of the monthly salary mentioned as Rs.8,000 in the salary certificate. The tribunal and the high Court could not have ignored the salary stated by the claimant on hyper technical grounds.
The Bench held, “The claimant has deposed that he was working as a marketing executive in a private company Golden Investments, and drawing a monthly salary of Rs.8,000 as per the salary certificate. On this ground, it cannot be said by the insurer that the claimant was unable to earn or was not earning Rs.8,000. The accident occurred in 2007. Even a mason those days was earning not less than Rs.300 daily, or Rs.9,000 monthly. The claimant being a graduate and working as a marketing executive, his plea of salary deserves to be accepted, as it is within the proximity of truth.”
Justice Kant and Justice Kumar observed, “The claimant has suffered 75 percent whole body disability. He has clearly deposed that on account of the injuries sustained and consequential disability suffered his marriage prospects have become bleak. Even in the affidavit filed on 30.09.2022, he deposed that he has remained unmarried, and none has come forward to marry him. In other words, the prospects of the appellant getting married would remain a dream and for loss of the same, he must be suitably awarded compensation. Hence, we award a sum of Rs.50,000 towards the loss of marriage prospects.”
The Bench cited the 2009 Sarla Verma and Others vs Delhi Transport Corporation and Others case, computing the compensation towards ‘loss of future income’ and awarded Rs.12,96,000 to the claimant. The compensation under ‘loss of earnings during the laid up period’ was revised by treating Rs.8,000 as the monthly income.
Thus, the Apex Court enhanced the compensation to Rs.15,94,812 with 6 percent per annum interest from the date of filing the petition.