Raj Bala & Ors. v Rakeja Begam & Ors.
Case Number: Civil Appeal No. 7604 of 2022 (@ Special Leave Petition (C) No. 25127 of 2018
Judges Name: Hon’ble Judge C.T. Ravikumar, J.
Order dated: 18.10.2022
Facts of the case:
- The instant appeal was preferred by Raj Bala & Others (“Appellants – Claimants”) against Rakeja Begam & Others (“Respondents”). The same arose out of the final judgment and order dated 24.08.2017 in F.A.O. No.5948 of 2013 passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh.
- The appellants are the wife and children of the deceased-Sudesh Kumar (“victim”) who was among the passengers in a bus of Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation, driven by the deceased husband of the first Respondent, on its trip from Jammu to Srinagar which fell into river Chenab and Shri Sudesh Kumar drowned in the river. On appreciation of the evidence, the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal at Rewari found that the accident had occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the deceased husband of the first Respondent.
- The deceased victim was working as a Head Constable in the Railway Protection Force (‘RPF’) whose monthly income was Rs. 20,000/-. The appellants filed a claim petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 seeking compensation.
- The tribunal granted a compensation of Rs. 17,73,704/- with interest at the rate of 6 % per annum from the date of filing of the petition till realization of the amount and an appeal was made to the High Court of Punjab and Haryana on the inadequacy of the compensation granted by the Tribunal. The High court granted an additional compensation of Rs. 2,95,000/- and the enhanced amount was to carry interest at the rate of 9% per annum.
- The appellants feeling deprived of just compensation to be awarded under section 168 of the MV Act, preferred the present appeal.
Hon’ble Supreme Court observed/held as follows:
- The Hon’ble Court citing the decision of Pranay Sethi’s case, observed that there is absolutely no justification for not reckoning the future prospects which he would have had but for his untimely death. It was further observed that the same was an approval of the position exposited in Sarla Verma and Ors. v. Delhi Transport Corporation and Anr.
- It was observed that the Tribunal as also the High Court had correctly identified the ‘multiplier’ with reference to the age group of the deceased viz., between 30 and 35 years as 16 which was evidently in terms of the decision in Sarla Verma’s case.
- In light of the decisions in Pranay Sethi’s case and M.A Murthy v. State of Karnataka & Ors. which were relied upon to grant benefits to the appellants, the court interfered with the grant of excess amount in respect of the compensation under the head ‘loss of consortium’ and the grant of compensation under the non-existing head of ‘love and affection’ by the High Court.
- The Hon’ble Court relying on Jana Bhai and Ors. v. ICICI Lombard General Ins. Co. Ltd, Magma General Ins. Co. Ltd. V. Nanu Ram and United Ins. Co. Ltd V. Satinder Kaur took note of the fact that the Constitution Bench in Pranay Sethi’s case (supra), has recognized only three conventional heads where compensation is awardable viz., ‘loss of estate’, ‘loss of consortium’ and the ‘funeral expenses’ and that in Magma’s case it was held that though compensation under the head of ‘love and affection’ is impermissible compensation for ‘loss of spousal consortium to wife and ‘loss of parental consortium to children’ are admissible.
- It was further held in Jana Bhai’s case that the amount to be awarded for ‘loss of parental consortium’ should be in uniformity with the amount fixed by the Constitution Bench in Pranay Sethi’s case.
- Relying on Pranay’s Sethi’s case it was held that when the deceased was below the age of 40 years and was having a permanent job for the purpose of determination of income 50 % of his actual salary ought to have been added to the actual income. Taking into account the number of dependents in the family viz., three, 1/3rd of the monthly income was to be deducted towards the personal and living expenses of the deceased.
- Similarly, under the heads ‘loss of estate’ and the ‘funeral expenses 15,000/- each was awarded to the Appellants.
- The Appeal was allowed and the Appellants were entitled to an enhanced amount of compensation of Rs. 10,29,260/-.