27 July 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

United India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Satinder Kaur and Ors.

MANU/SC/0500/2020

30.06.2020

Motor Vehicles

Compensation towards loss of love and affection not to be awarded as a separate head

In facts of present case, the deceased was residing in Doha, Qatar since 1984. The deceased was visited India in November, 1998, he was riding a scooter, with his wife as the pillion rider, when he met with an accident with a Maruti car coming from the opposite direction. FIR was lodged under Section 304A, 279, 337, 427 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against the driver and owner of the offending car.

Claim Petition was filed before the MACT, Patiala (Punjab) under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 by the widow of the deceased, on behalf of herself and her 3 minor children for compensation on the death of her husband. The Claimants prayed for compensation of Rs. 50 lacs, alongwith Interest @18% p.a. to be paid jointly and severally by the Insurance Company, and the driver and owner of the Maruti car.

The MACT vide Award held that, a perusal of the first statement made by Claimant No. 1-widow of the deceased in the FIR, revealed that her husband was overtaking a tractor-trolley when the accident occurred, because the Maruti car was coming at a high speed from the opposite side. Consequently, the MACT held that it was a case of contributory negligence on the part of the deceased, as also on the part of the driver of the Maruti car.

Since it was a case of contributory negligence, the compensation was reduced by 50%, which worked out to Rs. 1.80 lacs. An amount of Rs. 10,000 was awarded towards funeral expenses. The compensation of Rs. 1,90,000 would carry Interest @9% p.a. from the date of filing the claim, till the date of payment. The MACT held all three Respondents i.e. the driver of the Maruti car, the owner of the car, and the Insurance Company liable to pay the compensation awarded, jointly and severally. Aggrieved by the aforesaid Judgment, the Claimants filed an Appeal before the High Court for further enhancement.

The High Court vide the impugned Judgment and Order upheld the findings of the MACT regarding contributory negligence. The Appellant-Insurance Company filed SLP (Civil) to challenge the impugned Judgment.

The criteria which are to be taken into consideration for assessing compensation in the case of death, are: (i) the age of the deceased at the time of his death; (ii) the number of dependants left behind by the deceased; and (iii) the income of the deceased at the time of his death.

In Sarla Verma and Ors. v. Delhi Transport Corporation and Anr., this Court held that to arrive at the loss of dependency, the tribunal ought to take into consideration three factors:- 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.

In National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi and Ors., the Constitution Bench held that in death cases, compensation would be awarded only under three conventional heads viz. loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses.

In Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram and Ors., this Court gave a comprehensive interpretation to consortium to include spousal consortium, parental consortium, as well as filial consortium. Loss of love and affection is comprehended in loss of consortium. The Tribunals and High Courts are directed to award compensation for loss of consortium, which is a legitimate conventional head. There is no justification to award compensation towards loss of love and affection as a separate head.

In the present case, the Courts below failed to award any amount towards future prospects. The deceased was just over 40 years of age at the time of his death. As per the judgment of the Constitution Bench in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi and Ors., future prospects @30% are to be awarded for computing the compensation payable to the Claimants. The deceased was 40 years of age at the time of his death. Accordingly, the multiplier of 15 would be the appropriate multiplier. Multiplying the multiplicand of Rs. 2,51,675 by the multiplier of 15, the loss of dependency payable to the Claimants would work out to Rs. 37,75,125.

Insofar as the conventional heads are concerned, the deceased left behind a widow and three children as his dependants, compensation is to be awarded on the basis of the judgments in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi and Ors. and Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram and Ors. The total compensation to be awarded is Rs.19,82,563. The Civil Appeals are disposed of.

Relevant

Sarla Verma and Ors. v. Delhi Transport Corporation and Anr., MANU/SC/0606/2009
, National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi and Ors. MANU/SC/1366/2017
, Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram and Ors. MANU/SC/1012/2018

Tags : Accident Compensation Determination

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