Bombay High Court : In an appeal filed against the judgment and award dated 20-11-2009 passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Mumbai awarding compensation of Rs. 48,38,543/- with interest @7.5% p.a. from the date of the application till final realization, seeking enhancement of the same vide present appeal, Anuja Prabhudessai J., held the claimant to be entitled for compensation of Rs. 64,86,714/- which is more than the amount claimed by the claimant i.e., Rs. 45,00,000/- and observed that it is obligatory for the Tribunal and Court to award ‘just compensation’, even if it is in the excess of the amount claimed.
The Court noted that the Claimant, a young man of 26 years of age is wheelchair bound for life as he had suffered multiple injuries in a motor vehicle accident leading to traumatic paraplegia.
The Court further noted that on perusal of the medical bills the claimant had incurred actual expenses towards medical, transport, physiotherapy and attendant charges to the tune of Rs. 13,77,915/- and is thus, entitled for reimbursement of the said amount of Rs. 13,77,915/- along with Rs. 6,000/- towards special diet while under treatment.
The Court further found the claimant, who is paralyzed from waist below would require attendant throughout his life and considering the attendant charges at Rs. 4,500/- per month and adopting multiplier of 17, the claimant was held entitled for compensation of Rs. 9,18,000/- towards attendant charges in future as against Rs. 50,000/- awarded by the Tribunal.
The Court held the claimant is entitled for total compensation of Rs. 10,50,000/- towards future medical treatment, physiotherapy charges and other miscellaneous expenses considering the Claimant will require physiotherapy for both the lower limbs and being paraplegic, is confined to bed and is prone to suffer from bladder and kidney infections, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, etc. and likely to develop pressure ulcers and sleep on waterbed along with follow up treatment.
The Court further enhanced the compensation towards special diet to Rs. 3,50,000/- as against Rs. 10,000/- awarded by the Tribunal as it is well known that paraplegic patients need high protein and fiber diet, with multivitamin supplements along with a special diet to regulate their bowel movement.
The Court observed that the loss of earning capacity of the claimant is 100% and having failed to prove the actual income, the loss of future earning has to be assessed on the basis of the notional income. Thus, considering the age of the claimant, the notional income can be considered at Rs. 8,000/- per month i.e., Rs. 96,000/- per annum and adding 40% towards loss of future prospects, total amount would be Rs. 1,34,400/- per annum. Applying multiplier of 17 as opposed to 18 used by the Tribunal incorrectly, the claimant is entitled for Rs. 22,84,800/-.
The Court also opined that the claimant is a young man of 26 years of age, and is wheelchair bound for life. In addition to physical and mental suffering, his mobility impairment is likely to affect his conjugal relationship and shatter his hope to nurture children. In such circumstances, compensation of Rs. 3,00,000/- awarded by the Tribunal towards pain and suffering and loss of amenities is enhanced to Rs. 5,00,000/- considering that he is unable to enjoy amenities of life, which he would have otherwise enjoyed but for the tragic accidental injuries.
Placing reliance on Nagappa v. Gurudayal Singh, (2003) 2 SCC 274, the Court noted that there is no embargo in awarding compensation more than that claimed by the claimant, rather it is obligatory for the Tribunal and Court to award ‘just compensation’, even if it is in the excess of the amount claimed.
Thus, the Court held that the claimant is entitled for compensation of Rs. 64,86,714/- inclusive of no-fault liability and upon excluding an amount of Rs. 23,18,000/- in respect of future expenditure under different heads, the Claimant shall be entitled for interest on amount of Rs. 41,68,715/- @7.5% per annum from the date of the application till final realization.
The Court directed the Insurance Company to deposit the balance amount within a period of four weeks from the date of uploading of the order wherein 10% of the compensation deposited by the Insurance Company with proportionate interest accrued thereon be paid to the Appellant-claimant on payment of deficit court fees and the balance amount shall be invested in the name of the Appellant-claimant in any nationalized bank with liberty to withdraw quarterly interest accrued on the said amount.
[Yogesh Subhash Panchal v. Mohd. Hussain Malik, First Appeal No. 1700 of 2012, decided on 19-09-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
Ms. Rina Kundu for the Appellant/Applicant in FA/1700/2012;
Ms. S.S. Dwivedi for the Appellant in FA/1361/2010 and;
for the Respondent in FA/1700/2012.