In an accident that resulted into a 100% disability of a child, SC awards compensation more than the amount claimed

Supreme Court: In a case involving an accident that left a bright young girl with 100% disability i.e. a very low I.Q. and severe weakness in all her four limbs, severe hysteria and severe urinary incontinence, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta, JJ awarded a compensation of around Rs. 63, 00, 000 but showed dismay over the life that lies ahead for the girl and said,

“How does one assess compensation in such a case? No amount of money can compensate this child for the injuries suffered by her. She can never be put back in the same position.”

The girl was travelling on a tractor with her parents and the tractor was hit by a truck which was driven rashly. As per the assessment, the accident has left her with an I.Q. less than 20% of a child of her age and her social age is only of a 9-month-old child. This means that she, while lying on the bed will grow up to be an adult with all the physical and biological attributes which a woman would get on attaining adulthood, including menstruation etc., but her mind will remain of a 9-month-old child. Basically, she will not understand what is happening all around her.

The Court said that the amount awarded by it was more than the amount claimed, however, in motor accident claim petitions, the Court must award just compensation and, in case, the just compensation is more than the amount claimed, that must be awarded especially where the claimant is a minor.

“We must remember that this little girl is severely suffering from incontinence meaning that she does not have control over her bodily functions like passing urine and faeces. As she grows older, she will not be able to handle her periods. She requires an attendant virtually 24 hours a day. She requires an attendant who though may not be medically trained but must be capable of handling a child who is bed ridden. She would require an attendant who would ensure that she does not suffer from bed sores.”

Another factor that the Court took note of was that while assessing the compensation in a case like the present one is that the claim can be awarded only once. The claimant cannot come back to court for enhancement of award at a later stage praying that something extra has been spent. Therefore, the courts or the tribunals assessing the compensation in a case of 100% disability, especially where there is mental disability also, should take a liberal view of the matter when awarding compensation.

The Court noticed,

“This girl will miss out playing with her friends. She cannot communicate; she cannot enjoy the pleasures of life; she cannot even be amused by watching cartoons or films; she will miss out the fun of childhood, the excitement of youth; the pleasures of a marital life; she cannot have children who she can love let alone grandchildren. She will have no pleasure. Her’s is a vegetable existence.”

The Court, hence, directed that

  • the insurance company shall deposit the enhanced amount before the MACT in terms of the judgment after deducting the amount already paid by the insurance company within a period of 3 months.
  • The MACT shall keep the entire amount in a fixed deposit in a nationalised bank, for a period of 5 years, giving highest rate of interest. The interest payable on this amount shall be released on quarterly basis to the father of the child.This amount shall be spent for paying the attendants and for the care of the child alone.
  • Even after 5 years since this child for all intents and purpose shall remain a person under a disability, the MACT shall keep renewing the amount on these terms.
  • In case the parents or the guardian moves an application for release of some amount to meet some special medical expenses, then MACT may consider release of the same.

[Kajal v. Jagdish Chand, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 127, decided on 05.02.2020]

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