“If relief is not moulded by awarding higher compensation, we will be failing in our duty”; Kar HC discussed compensation vis a vis permanent sexual disability in motor accident cases

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of S.G Pandit and Anant Ramanath Hegde, JJ. allowed the appeal and modified the impugned order by enhancing the compensation. 

The facts of the case are such that the claimant  suffered 40% permanent disability around his pelvic region, (on account of injuries which are referred later) claimed compensation of Rs.11,75,000/-, the Tribunal awarded a compensation of Rs.3,73,988/-. The doctor who treated the claimant assessed permanent disability at 40%. The doctor opined that the claimant is unable to achieve a penile erection and nocturnal penile tumescence and thereby unable to copulate. According to the doctor, the condition is irreversible. Thus, the claimant who was aged 14 at the time of the accident was in appeal. The insurer having admitted the liability did not question the award but challenged the appeal for enhancement of the compensation by the instant appeal.

 The Court observed that the petitioner has suffered permanent disability in respect of his sexual organ, as well as around hip which is irreversible. The loss of the petitioner, who is deprived of marriage prospects and pleasure of marital life and having children, cannot be adequately compensated in terms of money. Nevertheless, to mitigate the pain and agony, monetary compensation is to be awarded. The quantum of compensation to be awarded by the Tribunal depends upon the gravity of the injury, the pain and agony suffered by the claimant. There should be some logical and rational nexus between the compensation awarded and the pain suffered by the claimant. The compensation should offer solace to the victim of the accident.

The Court observed that given the kind of disability suffered by the claimant, the mental trauma which the claimant has to undergo for the rest of his life, is much more painful than the physical pain that he has suffered immediately after the accident. The mental trauma of having to remain single, and answering the curious questions posed by the people around throughout life, for not getting married, are some of the things not easy to cope with. The trauma is going to be perennial and unabated. Such being the position, the duty is cast upon the Tribunals and Courts to award just compensation to ensure that the unbearable mental trauma is mitigated to the extent possible and the claimant can live with some dignity and find some solace in the monetary compensation awarded. 

The Court observed that the compensation payable under the non-pecuniary heads is not dependent on the social status, educational qualification or income of the claimant. It affects the poor and the rich alike. The rich may have some means of their own to mitigate the pain. Unfortunately for the poor, they need to depend on the compensation to be awarded to trace the silver line around the dark cloud cast by the
permanent disability.

The Court observed that the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is a benevolent legislation and the duty is cast upon the Tribunal to award just and fair compensation to the victim of a Motor Vehicle Accident and thus taking into consideration the inflation and constantly depreciating purchasing power of the rupee, the court deemed deem it appropriate to enhance the compensation.

The Court held “…the judgment and award dated 04.08.2016 passed in MVC No.49/2012 on the file of the Principal Senior Civil Judge and AMACT, Ranebennur is modified and compensation of Rs.17, 68,000.00 is awarded along with interest at the rate of 6%…”

[Basavaraj v. Umesh, M.F.A. No.103473 of 2017, decided on 11-01-2022]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearances:

For appellant: Adv. Hanumanthareddy Sahukar

For respondent: Adv. Suresh S Gundi

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