Court duty-bound to provide ‘just compensation’ under MV Act irrespective of plea; compensation for ‘loss of consortium’ awarded under Article 142: SC  

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. disposed of an appeal filed challenging the compensation awarded by the Punjab and Haryana High Court under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The deceased was riding on a bike when he was hit by the vehicle driven by Respondent 3 which resulted in his death. The claim petition filed by dependants of the deceased under Section 166 of MV Act was allowed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which was further enhanced by the High Court on an appeal preferred by the dependants. Aggrieved thereby, the insurance company filed the instant civil appeal.

The Supreme Court perused the orders of the MACT as well as the High Court and found that the order needs to be modified. The Court while disposing of the appeal, inter alia, added, to the already existing heads, two more heads of compensation. Relying on National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the Court held that Loss of Consortium and Loss of Estate are other conventional heads under which compensation is awarded in the event of death. In legal parlance, consortium is a compendious term which encompasses spousal consortium, parental consortium, and filial consortium. The Court observed that the MV Act being a social welfare and beneficial legislation, it was duty-bound to provide just compensation irrespective of whether plea in that behalf is raised or not by the claimant. In exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Court awarded Rs 15,000 towards Loss of Estate. In regard to consortium, it was observed that right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace and affection of the deceased which is a loss to his family. With respect to a spouse, it would include sexual relations. Reference, in this connection, was made to Rajesh v. Rajbir Singh, (2013) 9 SCC 54. Following the principles of awarding compensation under Loss of Consortium as laid down in Pranay Sethi, the Court awarded a compensation of Rs 80,000 as compensation towards loss of filial consortium. The appeal was accordingly disposed of. [Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1546, decided on 18-09-2018]

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