Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Addressing a dispute with regard to the percentage of permanent disability and determination of compensation, Shrikant D. Kulkarni, J., remarked that determination of a just compensation cannot be equated to be a bonanza.

The Appellant was serving as a cleaner on the appellant’s vehicle which was punctured on a highway and hence parked by the side of the road. When the appellant was replacing the tyre a truck drove in a rash and negligent manner and gave dash to the Tata Tempo vehicle which was in stationary condition and caused the accident.

Due to the above, the appellant was taken to the hospital for treatment. It was stated that the right leg of the appellant got crushed and it came to be amputed. Further, even his left leg was damaged badly.

Hence, the owner of the vehicle lodged an FIR against the truck driver.

Appellant filed injury claim under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and sought compensation assessed at Rs 60 lakhs. Though the claim was allowed partly.

Aggrieved with the decision, the present appeal was preferred for the enhancement of compensation.

Analysis, Law and Decision


High Court expressed that it is the statutory duty of the tribunal and the Court as well to award “just compensation”.

Further, the Bench added that, the concept of ‘just compensation’ obviously suggests application of fair and equitable principles and a reasonable approach on the part of the Tribunals and courts. This reasonableness on the part of the tribunal and the Court must be on a large peripheral field.

Additionally, the Court stated that the impact of amputation of leg on the earning capacity of the appellant/claimant needed deep consideration.

Due to amputation of right leg of the appellant, certainly he is unable to discharge his work and job as a Cleaner on the vehicle. It has severe impact on the earning capacity of the appellant/claimant. 

In the case of Jakir Hussein v. Sabir, (2015) 7 SCC 252, it is held by the Supreme Court that though the claimant is suffering from permanent disability of 30% and 50%, the tribunal cannot overlook that it is a case of 100% functional disability. It is a case of amputation of one leg.

In the present matter, the Tribunal did not consider the severe impact on the income of the claimant due to amputation of the right leg below the thigh and left leg badly damaged.

In cases of motor accidents leading to injuries and disablements, it is a well settled principle that a person must not only be compensated for his physical injury, but also for the non-pecuniary losses which he has suffered due to the injury.

The Court observed that the purpose of compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act is to fully and adequately restore the aggrieved to the position prior to the accident.

Hence, the tribunal had committed an error in accepting the permanent disability of the claimant at 45% when it is a case of 100% loss of earning capacity due to amputation of leg. Therefore, the compensation needed to be re-assessed.

High Court concluded that respondents are liable to pay the enhanced amount of compensation jointly and severally with interest @ 7%. [Akshay v. Kailas Vitthalrao Shinde, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 830, decided on 18-4-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr Sanket S. Kulkarni and Mr Mukeshkumar R. Singh, Advocates for appellant Mr V.P. Savant, Advocate for respondents no.1

Mr Abhijit G. Choudhari, Advocate for respondent no.2

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Ajai Tyagi, JJ., while addressing a case of negligent driving, expressed that,

“…if the injury rather death is caused by something owned or controlled by the negligent party then he is directly liable.”

An appeal was filed challenging the decision by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

It was submitted that the deceased was driving his car and when he reached Tehsil Aonla, the bus of U.P.S.R.T.C was being driven rashly and negligently by its driver dashed with the car which was being driven by the deceased.

His earning was Rs 95,960 per month and the legal heirs were dependent on him, therefore, they claimed a sum of Rs 1,80,00,000 with interest.

Negligence

The term negligence means failure to exercise care towards others which a reasonable and prudent person would in a circumstance or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.

Negligence can be both intentional or accidental though it is normally accidental. More particularly, it connotes reckless driving and the injured must always prove that either side is negligent.

Elaborating further, it was stated that if the injury rather death is caused by something owned or controlled by the negligent party then he is directly liable otherwise the principle of “res ipsa loquitur” meaning thereby “the things speak for itself” would apply.

Contributory Negligence

A person who either contributes or is co-author of the accident would be liable for his contribution to the accident having taken place and that amount will be decided from the compensation payable to him if he is injured and to legal representatives, if he dies in the accident.

Court’s opinion | Rash and Negligent Driving

Bench on noting the fact that the bus which was a bigger vehicle had to be more cautious, the instantaneous death of the driver of the car depicted that the vehicle driven by the respondent was being driven in rash and negligent manner, but the driver of the car was also considered negligent.

Lastly, the Court held that if U.P.S.R.T.C does not make payment within 30 days then only it will be liable for interest.

In view of the above, appeal was partly allowed. [U.P.S.R.T.C v. Anamika Deo, First Appeal from Order No. 1039 of 2021, decided on 14-2-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Appellant: Dharmendra Dhar Dubey, Awadhesh Kumar Saxena

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Expressing that, Negligence does not always mean absolute carelessness, but want of such a degree of care as required in particular circumstances, Vinay Joshi, J., held that no absolute standard can be fixed as to what constitutes negligence differs from case to case.

High Court stated that,

When a person suffers injury without any negligence on his part, but result of combined effect of negligence of two other persons, it is not case of “contributory” but it is a case of “composite negligence”.

Background

Appellant’s case was that the appellant injured (applicant) was proceeding as a pillion rider along with his brother on motorcycle. The motorcycle was hit by an offending truck which came in high speed and gave dash from behind. Due to the said incident, both the applicant and his brother sustained severe bodily injuries.

An FIR was registered under Sections 279, 337 and 338 of the Penal Code, 1860 against the driver of the offending truck. Due to the accidental injuries, the applicant lost his job as well as his earning capacity, hence he approached the Tribunal for grant of compensation in terms of Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

What was Tribunal’s decision?

Tribunal quantified compensation of Rs 8,84,520, however, recorded the finding that the accident occurred due to sole negligence of the motorcycle rider, i.e. applicant’s brother. Since there was no negligence on the part of the truck driver, the claim petition was dismissed.

Negligence

It was not in dispute that the appellant was pillion rider and therefore it was a case of composite negligence, in view of that even if there was slightest negligence on the part of truck driver, then the injured can recover compensation from the owner and insurer of the truck. Hence, it was necessary to dwell upon the question of negligence.

“… claim petition is not an adversarial adjudication between litigating parties but a statutory determination of compensation, after due enquiry, in accordance with the statute.” 

Tribunal’s conclusion was drawn solely on the ground that at the time of dash motorcycle was on the wrong side of the road i.e. to its right side.

Analysis and Discussion

In Court’s opinion, the Tribunals discarded spot panchanama which disclosed that the accident took place to the eastern side. Thus, it gave a complete different picture and location of the place of occurrence. The reason for discarding the same was that the rider could not have shown the place since he was admitted to the hospital.

Further, it was stated that there may have been the possibility of Vinod showing the place since there were no documents of him being an indoor patient. Besides that, the panchnama had a reference that there were bloodstains and the existence of the same supported the location of the occurrence.

High Court added that it was not clear as to in which direction the motorcycle was heading, hence the tribunal erred in solely relying said admission by overlooking spot panchanama.

Bench cited the Supreme Court decision in Bimla Devi v. Himachal Road Trans. Corpn., 2009 ACJ 1725 (SC), wherein it was ruled that the strict proof of an accident caused by a particular vehicle in a particular manner was not possible to be done by the claimants. They were merely to establish their case on the touchstone of preponderance of probabilities. The standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt cannot be invoked in claim petitions.

Further, the Court remarked that,

“Negligence is omission of duty caused either by an omission to do something which a reasonable man guided upon those considerations which ordinarily by reason of conduct of human affairs would do or obliged to do.” 

Significantly, the Court added that, even if it was assumed that the motorcycle was to the wrong side of the road, still dash was given from behind which clearly demonstrated that the truck driver was very much negligent.

The present matter was a case of composite negligence. The negligence of truck driver may be to any extent, but it would certainly attract liability.

Bench further added that, since the dash was from behind, the doctrine of Res ipsa loquitur would apply against the truck driver.

Merely on stray admission applicant’s entire case dehors to police papers cannot be jettisoned.

The driver and owner have appeared and contested the claim but driver did not step into witness box, which is sufficient to draw adverse inference against them.

Hence, it was quite clear that the truck driver had also contributed in negligence and therefore the finding recorded by the Tribunal on the point of negligence was totally erroneous.

Composite Negligence

“…the accident was result of negligence on the part of both i.e. motorcycle rider and truck driver. Meaning thereby a case of composite negligence.”

In the case of composite negligence, the claimant has no choice to seek compensation from either of the wrongdoer.

Elaborating further, the Bench stated that, since the truck driver contributed in negligence i.e. he was also wrong doer, the applicant can very well claim entire compensation from the driver, owner and insurer of the offending truck.

The compensation assessed by the Tribunal was just and proper. Besides that claimant was entitled to interest @7% per annum, which would be in the tune of the prevailing rate of interest in the banking sector.

Therefore, the appeal was allowed. [Satling Gangadhar Bagal v. Abarao Dnyanoba Sanap, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 426, decided on 24-2-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr S.S. Dargad, Advocate for the appellant.

Mr A.V. Thombre h/f. Mr S.S. Thombre, Advocate for respondents 1 & 2.

Mr S.V. Kulkarni, Advocate for respondent 3.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Birendra Kumar J. allowed the appeal and enhanced the award considering the settled guidelines in the subsequent judgments to reach at “just compensation”.

The instant appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, was filed by the wife, minor daughter and parents of Late Ramavatar @ Ramgopal, a victim of motor vehicle accident happened due to rash and negligent driving of the driver of the offending vehicle. The appellants filed MAC Case No.134/2011 before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Bharatpur. By the impugned judgment and award the Tribunal awarded Rs.3, 21,600/- against claim of Rs.80, 35,000/-. Being dissatisfied with the calculation and quantum of compensation decided by the appellants, instant appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellants Ms. Chelsi Gangwal contends that there was overwhelming unrebutted evidence of the wife of the deceased AW-1 Asha, the father of the deceased AW-2 Pradhan Singh and a businessman dealing with AC etc. who was examined as AW-3 Lalit Kumar that the deceased had monthly earning of Rs.12,000/-. However, the learned Tribunal took a pedantic approach of the matter that since no documentary proof of income of the deceased was produced, the notional income of Rs.3, 000/- per month was taken as multiplicand.

Counsel for respondent 3 put a defense that the offending vehicle was being used in violation of the terms and conditions of the policy. It was a case of contributory negligence as has been held by the Tribunal.

The Court observed that In the present case, there is no photographs of the site plan nor the author who had prepared the site plan Ex.-2 appeared before the Court. In my view, the Tribunal has committed error of appreciation of evidence and in fact, it is not a case of contributory negligence. Therefore, only for the reason that a self-earning person could not produce the document of his income, the deposition of the witnesses conversant with the income of the deceased should not have been ignored.

The Court relied on National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, and observed “Section 168 of the Act deals with the concept of “just compensation” and the same has to be determined on the foundation of fairness, reasonableness and equitability on acceptable legal standard because such determination can never be in arithmetical exactitude. It can never be perfect. The aim is to achieve an acceptable degree or proximity to the arithmetical precision on the basis of material brought on the record in an individual case. In a case of death, the legal heirs of the deceased cannot expect a windfall. Simultaneously, the compensation granted cannot be an apology for compensation.

The Court thus held “Thus, under the conventional head, the appellants would be entitled for Rs.1,50,000/-, the total payable compensation comes to Rs.26,71,600/- (Rupees Twenty Six lacs Seventy One Thousand and Six Hundred) The aforesaid amount minus already paid would be payable by the Insurer within three months to the claimants along with interest of 9% per annum, failing which the aforesaid interest would be payable till the realization of the whole due amount. The 1/3rd share of the minor daughter shall be deposited in some Fixed Deposit Scheme and shall be spent for education and betterment of the minor as and when occasion arises on the order of the Court only.”[Asha v. Naresh Kumar, 2022 SCC OnLine Raj 262, decided on 03-02-2022]


Appearances:

For Appellant(s) : Ms. Chelsi Gangwal for Mr. Prateek Sharma

For Respondent(s) : Mr. Ritesh Jain


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While hearing the appeal filed by Maharashtra SRTC, the Division Bench comprising of M. R. Shah* and B. V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that punishment of dismissal from service per se cannot be said to be an unfair labour practice for being disproportionate to the misconduct proved.

Background

On 23-10-1992 when the respondent, a bus driver employed by the MSRTC, was driving a bus, he met with an accident with a jeep coming from the opposite direction. The allegation against the respondent-driver was that instead of taking the bus to the left side, he took the bus to the extreme right and as a result, the jeep and the bus collided. The accident resulted in death of four passengers on the spot and six passengers were seriously injured. The impact of the collision was so high that the jeep was pushed back by about 25 feet. The driver of the jeep also sustained injuries. The respondent was subjected to disciplinary enquiry, and was consequently dismissed from service. A criminal case was also lodged against the driver under Section 279 of IPC for negligent and rash driving. However, he came to be acquitted.

Findings of the Labour Court and Industrial Tribunal

The Labour Court upheld the order of dismissal. In a revision application the Industrial Tribunal considering the acquittal of the respondent in criminal proceedings and observing that the drivers of both the vehicles were negligent (contributory negligence), the Industrial Tribunal exercised powers under item 1(g) of Schedule IV of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971; and held that the order of dismissal was disproportionate to the misconduct proved. Hence, the Tribunal ordered reinstatement of the respondent without back wages but with continuity of service.

Dismissal by the High Court

The order of the Tribunal was challenged before the High Court by the appellant-MSRTC. The High Court, by the impugned order and judgment had only dismissed the appeal but also directed the appellant to pay to the respondent back wages with effect from 01-11-2003 to 31-05-2018 i.e. which was the date of his superannuation. The High Court also directed that the respondent should also be entitled to retiral benefits on the basis of continuity of service.

Factual Analysis

Noticing that while acquitting the accused–respondent the Criminal Court observed that the prosecution failed to prove that the incident occurred due to rash and negligent driving of the accused-respondent only and none else, and acquitted the respondent by classifying the case as one of a contributory negligence, the Bench stated that even if it was assumed that even driver of the jeep was also negligent, that did not that the respondent was not negligent at all. Hence, it could not absolve him of the misconduct.

Further, the Criminal Court acquitted the respondent on the hostility of the witnesses; the evidence led by the interested witnesses; lacuna in examination of the investigating officer; panch for the spot panchnama of the incident, etc. On the contrary in the departmental proceedings the misconduct of driving the vehicle rashly and negligently which caused accident and due to which four persons died has been established and proved. Therefore, the Bench said,

“An acquittal in a criminal trial has no bearing or relevance on the disciplinary proceedings as the standard of proof in both the cases are different and the proceedings operate in different fields and with different objectives.”

Therefore, the Bench concluded that the Industrial Court had erred in giving much stress on the acquittal of the respondent by the criminal court.

Whether punishment of dismissal can be said to be an unfair labour practice for being disproportionate to the misconduct proved?

The Bench observed that the Labour Court did not interfere with the order of dismissal by giving cogent reasons and after re-appreciating the entire evidence on record including the order of acquittal passed by the criminal court. However, the Industrial Tribunal interfered with the order of dismissal solely on the ground that punishment of dismissal was disproportionate to the misconduct proved and the same can be said to be to be unfair labour practice as per item 1(g) of Schedule IV of the MRTU & PULP Act, 1971. The Bench stated,

Clause No. 1(g) can only be invoked in a case where it is found that dismissal of an employee is for misconduct of a minor or technical character, without having any regard to the nature of the particular misconduct or the past record of service of the employee, so as to amount to a shockingly disproportionate punishment.

However, as per the appellant, the respondent was in service for three years and during three years’ service tenure he was punished four times, therefore, the Bench opined that it could not be said that the order of dismissal was without having any regard to the past record of the service of the respondent. Consequently, the Industrial Court wrongly invoked clause 1(g) of Schedule IV of the MRTU & PULP Act, 1971 as it could not be said that the dismissal of the respondent was for misconduct of a minor or technical character, without having any regard to the nature of the misconduct.

Conclusion

In the backdrop of above, the Bench concluded that the Industrial Court committed a grave error and had exceeded in its jurisdiction while interfering with the order of dismissal passed by the disciplinary authority. Similarly, the impugned judgment of the High Court directing the appellant to pay wages to the respondent also could not have been passed in a petition filed by the appellant. The Bench explained, it was not a petition filed by the workman and the relief granted was beyond the scope and ambit of the controversy before the High Court.

Accordingly, the impugned order and judgment was quashed and set aside and the judgment and Award of the Labour Court was restored. The order of dismissal passed by the disciplinary authority was upheld.

[Maharashtra SRTC v. Dilip Uttam Jayabhay, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1, decided on 03-01-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice M. R. Shah


Appearance by:

For Maharashtra SRTC: Mayuri Raghuvanshi, Advocate

For the Respondent: Nishanth Patil, Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Ajai Tyagi, JJ., enhances quantum of award of a non-earning member in a motor accident claim, while referring to the Supreme Court decision in Kurvan Ansari v. Shyam Kishore Murmu, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1060.

Present appeal had been preferred by the claimants-appellants against the decision of Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Kanpur whereby the Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs 1,80, 000 as compensation to the claimants with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum.

The appeal was preferred for the purpose of enhancement of quantum.

By the present claimant’s appeal, appellant claimed enhancement of award for the death of a child who was 7 years old at the time of his death.

Appellant’s counsel submitted that the deceased was a brilliant student and he had very bright future, but the said aspect was not considered by the Tribunal. Further, it was added that the notional income of the deceased was taken Rs 15,000 per annum by the Tribunal and held that the contribution of the deceased towards his family was only assumed as 1/2 of his income and in this way the Tribunal has awarded only 1/2 of his income as compensation, which was not just and proper.

Supreme Court decided the controversy and settled the law regarding the death of a child in Kurvan Ansari v. Shyam Kishore Murmu, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1060, wherein it was stated that in spite of repeated directions, Scheduled-II of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was not yet amended. Therefore, fixing notional income of Rs 15,000 per annum for non-earning members is not just and reasonable.

Hence, the Supreme Court took the notional income of the deceased at Rs 25,000 per annum, hence Court is opined that notional income of the deceased must be assumed Rs 25,000 as he was a non-earning member.

Court further expressed that, when the notional income is multiplied with applicable multiplier ‘15’ as prescribed in Scheduled-II for the claims under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, it comes to Rs 3,75,000/- towards loss of dependency.

Therefore, appellants 1 and 2 were entitled to the following amounts towards compensation:

(i) Loss of Dependency: 25,000/- X 15 = Rs.3,75,000/-

(ii) Filial consortium: 40,000/- X 2 = Rs.80,000/-

(iii) Funeral expenses: Rs.15,000/-

(iv) Total compensation: Rs.4,70,000/-

The Bench also added that in view of the latest decision of the Supreme Court in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Mannat Johal, (2019) 15 SCC 260, the appellants 1 and 2 shall be entitled to the rate of interest as 7.5% per annum from the date of filing the claim petition.

Lastly, the Court concluded by stating that the appeal was partly allowed in view of the above discussion. [Roop Lal v. Suresh Kumar Yadav, 2022 SCC OnLine All 25, decided on 4-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Appellant:- Mohd. Naushad Siddiqui

Counsel for Respondent:- Vipul Kumar, Shreesh Srivastava

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., Whether the Insurance Company can be absolved of its liability to pay compensation under the Employees Compensation Act, 1923, if the employee who has succumbed to an accident which took place during the course of employment, is a minor?

Appellants filed a claim based on the premise that the deceased was aged 18 at the time of the accident and was receiving wages of Rs 5,500 per month and compensation of Rs 6,22,545 was assessed.

The insurer opposed the above-said claim before the Commissioner/Labour Court, and it was disputed that the accident suffered by the deceased arose out of or in the course of employment with the OP.

Further, it was denied that there was any nexus between the alleged injury and the alleged accident and since the police papers revealed the deceased’s age was 15 years, it was stated that the claim was not maintainable under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, hence the same shall be dismissed.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 does not prohibit payment of compensation to a minor.

There is no age limit for a person to be employed as an employee under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, though Article of the Constitution of India, employment of child labour before 14 years in any factory or mine or any hazardous employment, there are enactments in the form of Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition & Regulation Act), 1986 where engaging services of children below 14, in any hazardous avocation, is an offence.

Elaborating further, it was stated that Workmen’s Compensation Act is a beneficial piece of legislation and if a person engaged by an employer, as an employee is a minor and his appointment, though is prohibited by any law in existence, meet with an accident and sustain a disability which can be a total or partial disability, the moot question is:

Whether an employee should be denied the compensation merely on the ground that the employer had engaged him by contravening the law and he shall be kept out of the benefits which would have been otherwise available to him on account of an accident which he has suffered, which occurred in his workplace and out of the course of his employment or whether his family can be denied compensation on his death?

Bench expressed that the impugned decision took a harsh stand and refused to fasten liability of compensation on the Insurance Company by recording that the deceased was a minor and insurance company was not liable to pay compensation on the said ground.

The insurance policy in the present matter clearly covered two persons and the liability covered a person employed by the insured for operation and maintenance or loading/unloading which covered a cleaner.

Labour Court’s approach defeated the very spirit and rationale behind the Employees Compensation Act and the claimants who were the parents of the deceased were held entitled to recover compensation only from the employer with very negligible chance of recovering the compensation.

High Court disapproved the above approach of the labour court and opined that the Insurance Company cannot be absolved of its liability to pay compensation to the claimants, the dependents of the deceased. Therefore, the impugned judgment of the Commissioner was modified to the limited extent of fixing the liability jointly and severally upon the employer and the Insurance Company.

First Appeal No. 246 of 2015

In this matter, Insurance Company was aggrieved by the award of compensation to the parents of the deceased, who succumbed to the injuries in the accident.

Labour Court had directed the employer and the Insurance company jointly and severally liable to pay compensation.

Claimant 1 had set up a claim under the Workmen’s Compensation Act by filing the application claiming that his son was employed by the OP on his Motor Tempo as loader and the said tempo met with an accident due to which the son died.

High Court stated that when the written statement on oath before the Commissioner and the certificate issued by the employer is juxtaposed against his statement recorded by the police during the course of investigation, the statement recorded under oath, admitting that deceased Deepak was his employee, assumed importance.

Bench expressed that in view of the inconsistency in the statement given to the police by the employer, denying any employer-employee relationship on one hand and the statement on oath filed in the form of written statement before the Commissioner, the Commissioner has rightly given weightage to the statement on oath and accepted the employer-employee relationship.

In view of the above, Court found no reason to interfere with finding of the Commissioner. [Mohammed Ali Abdul Samad Khan v. Dawood Mohd. Khati, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 6670, decided on 10-12-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Amol Gatne i/b Ms. Swati Mehta for the appellants in First Appeal No.169 of 2014 and for the respondents in First Appeal No.246 of 2015.

Mr. D.R. Mahadik for the appellant in FA No.246/2015 and for respondent in FA No.169/2014.

Case BriefsDistrict Court

Dwarka Courts, New Delhi: Sushil Anuj Tyagi, ASJ while addressing a case of drink and drive, expressed that,

“There has to be a zero-tolerance for drunken driving and such cases should be dealt with stern hands for flashing proper message in the society.”

The instant appeal was filed under Section 374 of Code Criminal Procedure against the decision of M.M. Dwarka Courts whereby the appellant was convicted and sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for 4 days and fine under Sections 185 and 194B of the M.V. Act in default of payment of fine the appellant was further sentenced to imprisonment for 7 days.

Factual Background

Challan for the offence under Sections 185 and 194B MV Act was filed against the accused/appellant on the allegations that he was found driving a vehicle in drunken condition and he was not using his seat belt.

MM had taken cognizance of the above-stated. Appellant pleaded guilty.

The accused assailed the impugned order of the trial court on the grounds that the principles of natural justice were not followed, and that the appellant was not medically examined properly and that the report filed by the traffic police before the trial court was forged.

Further, the appellant was the victim of improper investigation and that the order passed by the trial court was hasty. Adding to this he stated that he was not a previous convict and had clean past antecedents.

It was also submitted that the appellant was running his business of Tours & Travels and he was the sole bread earner of his family which consists of his wife, minor daughter and old aged parents.

Analysis, Law and Decision

The Court stated that since the appellant had voluntarily pleaded guilty to the offences challaned against him, as per Section 375 CrPC, the appellant had no right to appeal as he has been convicted on his voluntary plea of guilt. Hence this Court found no illegality, infirmity or error in the impugned order, regarding the conviction.

Quantum of Sentence

Bench stated that it is true that drunkard driver is a menace on the overcrowded roads of Delhi.

The driver of motor vehicles is expected to be alert to the emergent contingencies which may arise on the road and he cannot be expected to lower his guard of reflexes. The consumption of alcohol impacts the senses of a person which results in delayed responses and reflexes which results in serious and fatal accident.

 “…drunken driver is injurious to his own life as well as to the life of innocent road users.’’

Analyzing further, Court stated that this Court cannot be oblivious to the fact that the appellant was the first-time offender and was not a previous convict, infact he had a clean past and was the sole earner of his family, he even expressed remorse for his conduct and undertook that he won’t repeat such act in future.

While considering the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, Court opined that the appellant deserved one chance for improving himself and hence took a lenient view by modifying the sentence of imprisonment Till the Rising of the Court.

In view of the above discussion, the appeal was disposed of. [Ishan Gaur v. State, CA No. 136 of 2021, decoded on 13-12-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias C.P, JJ., directed the government of Kerala to consider the period spent on treatment and hospitalization due to road accident as Special Disability Leave and grant all the benefits related to it.

The writ petitioner, a School Teacher in the G V Higher Secondary School, had met with an accident while she was riding her scooter on her way to school from her residence. Pursuant to which she sustained injuries and was hospitalised and was under treatment during the period from 17-08-2012 to 16-12-2012.

The petitioner claimed the benefit of special disability leave in terms of Rules 97 and 98 of Part I of the Kerala Service Rules [KSR], but her claim was rejected by the Regional Deputy Director, Higher Secondary Education on the ground that that the injury suffered by the petitioner could not be seen as either caused in, or in consequence of the due performance of her official duties or in consequence of her official position. It was essentially stated that the travel from her residence to the school could not be seen as a travel in connection with her employment. The petitioner, therefore, preferred an appeal before the Government, which too was rejected by the same ground.

The petitioner then impugned the said Government Order before this Court, when the Single Judge quashed the impugned order and directed the authority competent to take up the application of the petitioner again and pass a fresh order thereon. Consequently, the respondents once again rejected the claim of the petitioner stating that the accident that occurred in the course of travel of the petitioner from her residence to the school could not be considered as one that occurred during the performance of her official duties.

The Bench observed that after considering the provisions of Rules 97 and 98 of Part I KSR, the Single Judge had found that the injury suffered by the petitioner while she was admittedly, on her way to work had to be seen as an injury suffered consequent on her employment. Accordingly, the Single Judge had directed the respondents to sanction the special disability leave applied for by the petitioner.

Further, the Bench rejected the grounds relied by the respondents by opining that a mere perusal of the provisions of Part I KSR which deal with various kinds of leave would reveal the underlying scheme therein which is that the sanction of various kinds of leave are contemplated only once it is established that the employee-employer relationship continues to exist without interruption. Since, as per the specified provisions the difference in the kinds of leave sanctioned was only in respect of the periods for which an employee could remain absent from work and the monetary benefits, if any, that will be paid to the employee during the said period.

Thus, the Bench stated that when the provisions of Rules 97 and 98 of Part I KSR that prescribe the conditions for the grant of leave are interpreted, the interpretation to be placed must be one that recognizes the above scheme and its intent, and furthers such intent.

In the light of the above, the Bench held that the phrase “caused in, or in consequence of due performance of his official duties or in consequence of his official position”, which appear in both the Rules aforementioned, cannot be construed in a narrow and pedantic fashion so as to exclude a person who was admittedly an employee, who was travelling from her residence to the place of work at the time when the accident took place. Accordingly, the Bench refused to interfere with the liberal view taken by the Single Judge and the appeal was dismissed. [State of Kerala v. Shylaja K. Unnithan, WA No. 1409 of 2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the State: A.J.Varghese, Sr. Government Pleader

For the Appellant: K.Sasikumar, P.S.Raghukumar, S.Aravind and K.Janardhana Shenoy

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Noting that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal Member did not properly determine just and proper compensation, V.M. Deshpande, J., while partly allowing the appeal enhanced compensation.

Instant appeal was filed by the claimants for enhancement of compensation.

Factual Matrix

Appellants were the widow, sons and daughters of the deceased. Deceased when proceeding to his house on foot after closing his shop was crushed to death by the offending vehicle. The offence was registered against the driver of the offending vehicle.

Further, the appellants had approached the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal by filing a petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. In the said petition, it was averred by the claimants that when the deceased met an untimely death, he was 40 years old and a self-employed person.

Claimants added that the monthly income of the deceased was Rs 10,000 and the aggregate compensation claimed was Rs 5,00,000 with interest at 12% pa from the date of the accident.

MACT passed the judgment and award holding that the claimants were entitled to total compensation of Rs 1,89,500/- inclusive of no-fault liability amount of Rs 50,000/- along with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum from the date of filing of petition.

On being dissatisfied with the compensation amount that was awarded, present appeal was filed.

Issue

According to the counsel for the appellant, the Tribunal committed an error in determining the monthly income of the deceased as Rs 15000/-. She submitted that in any case, the income of the deceased was not less than Rs 10,000/- per month. She also submitted that the judgment of tribunal cannot stand to the scrutiny of law inasmuch as nothing is granted in favour of the claimants under the head of future prospects. Along with this, Tribunal had wrongly deducted 1/3rd amount towards personal expenses.

Did member of the MACT grant just and adequate compensation to the claimants?

Analysis, Law and Decision

In Court’s opinion, Member of the Tribunal had rightly reached the conclusion that at the time of the death, the age of the deceased was 45 years.

Adding to the above analysis, Court stated that there was no documentary evidence that could throw light on the daily income of the deceased.  However, from the evidence of the widow, it was clear that the deceased was engaged in repairing tubes and tyres of various vehicles and not the bicycles. In that view of the matter, the Judge had determined the daily income of the deceased on very lower side.

Once it is established that the deceased was not unemployed and he was engaged in the business of vulcanization, without there being any documentary proof about his income, his monthly income will have to be determined as notional income.

Moving further, High Court elaborated stating that in absence of any documentary evidence and keeping aside the exaggeration in respect of earning per month income of the deceased, looking to the nature of self-employment of the deceased, the Court reached the conclusion that monthly income of deceased was Rs 5,000.

Claimants were entitled to 25% towards future prospects.

In Court’s opinion, the Tribunal committed an error in deducting 1/3rd income. Seven persons were dependent on the deceased. Therefore, a proper deduction would be 1/5th.

The inadequate amount was granted in favour of the claimants on account of loss of consortium for which they were entitled at the rate of Rs 44,000/- per dependent in view of the law laid down in Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd v. Nanu Ram, (2018) 18 SCC 130. Similarly, less compensation was granted to the claimants in respect of the loss of estate and future expenses which appellants will be entitled. Therefore, the claimants were surely entitled to enhancement.[Sahana Khatoon v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 3695, decided on 28-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Ms Mitisha Kotecha, Advocate for appellants.

Mr M. B. Joshi, Advocate for respondent 1.

None for respondents. 2 and 3, though served.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Anup Jairam Bhambhani, J., emphasizing the principle of res ipsa loquitur and placing a detailed explanation on the same granted just and fair compensation to a person who was 100% disabled due to an accident at his place of work.

Factual Backdrop

Petitioner’s son (Bharat) who was 28 years of age was the victim of an accident at the age of about 21 years which had left him 100% disabled. Instant petition was filed by petitioner’s father since petitioner was stated to be virtually bed ridden and not in a position to file to pursue his claim against the respondents.

Petitioner had made claims against the respondents BSES Rajdhani Power Limited and Bryn Construction Company.

Further, it was submitted that petitioner had suffered an accident due to certain work performed by Bryn for BRPL, which led to the filing of the present petition.

Cause of Permanent Disability

 Bharat, who was then about 21 years of age, while working as an electrician with Bryn, was tasked with rectifying a fault in an electricity pole that was causing fluctuation in the electricity supply at a farmhouse and suffered a fall while performing the task since the electricity pole that he had climbed on, snapped and fell.

Bharat’s dismal physical state apart, it was also evident to this court that Bharat was a psychological wreck, not least because in the course of interaction with this court, he broke- down on several occasions.

Depression and Anxiety

 As per medical opinion in regard to Bharat’s psychological state, his level of mental depression and anxiety fall in the “abnormal range”.

Questions for Consideration

  • Given his medical condition, what course of action should be adopted for Bharat’s further rehabilitation, continuing care and welfare?
  • Is Bharat entitled to receive any monetary compensation for the injury suffered by him as a result of the accident; if so, from which of the respondent or respondents?
  • If the answer to (ii) above is in the affirmative, in what manner should the compensation be calculated?

Analysis, Law and Decision

While analyzing and penning down this interesting decision, Court addressed a very fundamental issue, whether Bharat was an ‘employee’ of Bryn or was engaged by Bryn to perform the task that led to the accident.

It was noted that Bryn did not expressly admit that Bharat was their employee; nor that he had been engaged by them to perform the task in question.

However, there was also no denial of any kind, whether express or implied, that Bharat was working for Bryn. The thrust of Bryn’s counter-affidavit is that BRPL is responsible to compensate Bharat for the injury, since at the relevant time Bharat was working under BRPL’s supervision and performing BRPL’s tasks.

Court took note of the fact that while BRPL and Bryn both contended that all requisite safety equipment and precaution were made available by them, neither BRPL nor Bryn explained why such equipment, if available, failed to protect Bharat from the serious injury he suffered. 

Opinion of the Court

Bench opined that Bharat was working for Bryn and was tasked with certain maintenance work to be performed on an electricity pole owned by BRPL; which pole, it turned-out, was not strong enough to take Bharat’s weight or was not rooted securely in the ground, and thereby fell, as a result of which Bharat sustained serious injuries. It is also evident that Bharat was not provided any safety gear before he was directed to climb the pole to undertake the task.

 Principle of res ipsa loquitur

High Court added to its analysis that the instant matter would be squarely covered by the principle of res ipsa loquitur, whereby no detailed evidence, much less a trial, is required to establish ex-facie negligence on the part of BRPL and Bryn.

The said maxim was lucidly explained in the leading Supreme Court decision of Shyam Sundar v. State of Rajasthan, (1974) 1 SCC 690,

 The maxim res ipsa loquitur is resorted to when an accident is shown to have occurred and the cause of the accident is primarily within the knowledge of the defendant. The mere fact that the cause of the accident is unknown does not prevent the plaintiff from recovering the damages, if the proper inference to be drawn from the circumstances which are known is that it was caused by the negligence of the defendant. 

Elaborating further, the Court stated that the accident could not have occurred had Bryn and/or BRPL not been negligent in taking reasonable precautions to avoid it; which gave rise to their strict liability for the injuries sustained by Bharat.

The undated declaration with no proof of payment made to Bharat, though the declaration signed by Bryn accepting payment of a small sum of compensation in full and final settlement from Bryn and absolving them of any further liability.

In Court’s view, the above-mentioned declaration, deserved no credence or value since it smacked of being a document procured by Bryn precisely for the purpose of absolving itself of any further claim or liability vis-à-vis Bharat, by suborning a hapless and resourceless victim with a small amount of monetary bait, knowing full well that their actual liability would be much more.

Bench further expressed that merely because there were more than one respondent attempting to foist blame or liability on each other, that would not defeat the just claim of the petitioner’s son.

Hence, both respondents would be held jointly and severally liable, giving them liberty to recover the whole or any part of compensation paid, from one another.

High Court’s Inference

  • Without delving into the technical semantics of whether Bharat was an ‘employee’ of Bryn within the meaning of the Employee’s Compensation Act, suffice it to say that Bharat was performing the task in question for Bryn and at their instance
  • Bharat is unable to perform even the most basic, personal, daily chores himself and is all but 100% dependent on others; and as a result, though Bharat is living, he is barely alive;
  • On the principle of ‘strict liability’, both Bryn and BRPL are, jointly and severally, liable to compensate Bharat for putting him in his current state;
  • Section 4(2)(a) of the Employee’s Compensation Act mandates that apart from the liability to pay compensation, the employer is also under obligation to reimburse all actual medical expenses incurred by an employee for treatment of injuries. Furthermore, section 4-A provides that failure of an employer to pay compensation in a timely manner would attract payment of both interest and penalty for the delayed payment of compensation;
  • Reading the Bryn-BRPL Agreement and section 12 of the Employee’s Compensation Act together, it is seen that section 12 also fixes liability upon the “principal” for payment of compensation to an injured employee, with a right in the principal to recover the same from the contractor, if work was being carried-out by a contractor. In the present case the principal would therefore be BRPL and the contractor would be Bryn
  • Allowing the petition, Court awarded Bharat relief in two broad categories:
  1. Monetary Relief
  2. Non-Monetary Relief by way of directions.

Details of the relief can be referred to in the Judgment.

In view of the above discussion, petition was disposed of. [Kehar Sigh v. GNCTD, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4198, decided on 25-08-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Prabhsahay Kaur, Amicus Curiae.

Saraswati Thakur, Advocate.

For the Respondents: Satyakam, Additional Standing Counsel for GNCTD/R1

Ravi Gupta, Senior Counsel with Sunil Fernandes, Standing Counsel for BRPL-RPL with Anju Thomas, Shubham Sharma and Sachin Jain, Advocates for R2.

A.K. Sharma, Advocate for R3. Saurabh Sharma, Advocate for Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.

Sayli Petiwale, Advocate for Anil Mittal, Advocate for State of U.P.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case dating back to the year 1995 where a bus driver had caused an accident, thereby injuring a driver of a car, the 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, Vineet Saran and MR Shah, JJ has upheld the conviction of the bus driver under Sections 279 and 338 of IPC but has held that sending the accused to jail after 26 years would be harsh.

The incident took place on 16.02.1995 i.e. more than 26 years ago and the appellant was throughout on the bail. The Trial Court recorded the conviction under Section 279, 338 and awarded sentence of imprisonment of six months and further sentenced to pay a fine of Rs.500/- under Section 337.

However, the Supreme Court substituted the sentence by fine of Rs. 1000/- each.

“The conviction of appellant is affirmed, however, looking to the facts and circumstances of the present case specially the fact that 26 years have elapsed from the incident, we are inclined to substitute the sentence of six months imprisonment under Section 279 and 338 into fine. Six months sentence under Section 279 and 338 IPC are substituted by fine of Rs.1000/- each whereas sentence of fine under Section 337 IPC is maintained.”

[Surendran v. Sub-Inspector of Police, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 445, decided on 30.06.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Ashok Bhushan 

Messiah of the sufferers: Bidding adieu to Justice Ashok Bhushan

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Parthivjyoti Saikia, J., addressed the instant appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 against the judgment and award dated 30-08-2016 which had been filed for enhancement of award.

The facts of the case were such that on 07-07-2013, one Bimal Kr. Saikia (the deceased) was waiting for a bus on NH-37. He was standing left side of the road in order to take the bus ride back home when the vehicle bearing registration No. AS-01/K-8766 knocked down the deceased. The deceased was immediately shifted to Civil Hospital at Nagaon but he succumbed to his injury there. It was alleged that the accident took place because of the rash and negligent driving of the aforesaid vehicle.

On the basis of the Income Tax return for the financial year 2013-14, the Tribunal had assessed the monthly income of the deceased as Rs 12,619 only and the age of the deceased had been stated as 40 years. The applicant contended that the future prospect of the deceased should have been held at 40% only by the Tribunal and not 50%. Regarding the consortium, funeral expenses, loss of care and guidance for children, the appellant had relied on the decision of Supreme Court in National Insurance Company Limited v. Praynay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the appellant submitted that on the aforesaid heads the claimant was entitled to Rs 70,000 only.

The Bench opined that the monthly income of the deceased had been rightly assessed at Rs 12,619. The Court reiterated,

“Being beneficial legislation, in a claim case under the Motor Vehicle Act strict proof of Income Tax Return may not be mandatory in all circumstances.

Holding that the Tribunal had committed an error because, the deceased being below 40 years of age, only 40% should have been added as future prospect. Regarding compensation under the loss of consortium head, financial expenses head and loss of care and guidance for children head, the Bench held that all together for these three heads the claimants were entitled to Rs 70,000 only.

Hence, the Court held that the claimant was entitled to Rs 21,90,040 only. The appeal was allowed and the appellant was directed to pay Rs 21,90,04 only to the claimant.[Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nitanjali Devi Saikia, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 648, decided on 18-03-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner: Adv. R D Mozumdar

For the Respondent: Adv. A J Sarma

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Appalled with the arrest of Anuj Jain, the Interim Resolution Professional of the company managing the Yamuna Expressway, in connection with an accident that happened on the expressway that killed seven members of a family, the bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has directed his immediate release and has also issued a show cause notice to the Investigating Officer, Bijender Singh, Sub-Inspector, as to why appropriate action is not taken against him for taking such drastic action against Jain.

Jain was arrested in connection with an FIR that was filed after seven members of a family had died in an accident that happened on the highway. The victims were travelling towards Delhi when an overspeeding oil tanker jumped the divider and rammed into the victims’ vehicle The collision led to the spilling of oil from the tanker, resulting in a massive fire that engulfed both the vehicles.[1]

Shocked to the see the extreme step taken by UP Police to arrest the Interim Resolution Professional, Anuj Jain, working in that capacity pursuant to the order passed by the Court and entrusted with the functioning of the Company, the Court said,

“It is seen that the police official dealing with the case is not familiar with the provision of privilege of interim resolution appointed by the Court, in terms of Section 233 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.”

State of Uttar Pradesh had submitted before the Court that the Investigating Officer, Bijendra Singh, was of the view that the applicant may leave India at any time to avoid the prosecution and for securing his presence thought it necessary to arrest him from Mumbai.

Taking note of this submission, the Court said that it

“… will examine this aspect of the matter elaborately at appropriate time by treating this application as substantive writ petition filed by the applicant under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and to be numbered accordingly.”

In the meantime, the Court directed the release of Jain and further directed the Investigating Officer not to take any coercive action against him in connection with the subject F.I.R. until further orders.

The Court asked the Registrar(Judl.) to personally intimate the office of the concerned Judge and Police Station Beta-II, District Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh on telephone “to ensure immediate release of the applicant, Mr. Anuj Jain, without imposing any conditions”.

[Jaypee Kensington Boulevard Apartments Welfare Association v. NBCC (India) Ltd, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 160, order dated 02.03.2021]


Appearances before the Court by:

For applicant: Senior Advocates Parag Tripathi and Sidharth Luthra

For State: Senior Advocate R.K. Raizada

[1] Yamuna Expressway management firm’s officer held after FIR following fatal accident by Abhishek Anand, India Today, Last Updated: March 2, 2021 13:06 IST

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Alok Aradhe and Nataraj Rangaswamy, JJ., disposed of the appeal after modifying the compensation.

The facts of the case are such that the deceased Sanjeev M Patil was crossing the road as a pedestrian at 6:00 am in morning when a bus being driven in a rash and negligent manner by its driver dashed against the deceased as a result the deceased received grievous injuries and succumbed to the same. The claimants filed a petition seeking compensation which was thereby granted keeping in mind his young age and monthly income. Aggrieved by the same, the present appeal was filed.

Counsel for appellants submitted that the Tribunal has erred in its judgment and the accident took place 75 meters from the toll booth and that the deceased suddenly tried to cross the road without observing the vehicles approaching the toll counter. It was also submitted that there is a gross error in assessing the monthly income and compensation is excessive.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that as per an independent eye witness it is clear that the accident happened due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus by the driver and the monthly income calculated is correct as the deceased was a permanent employee and infact sums awarded under the heads “loss of consortium” and “loss of love and affection” are on the lower side and deserves to be enhanced suitably.

The Court relied on judgment Mangala Ram v. Oriental Insurance Co., (2018) 5 SCC 656 and observed that the proceeding under the Act has to be decided on the basis of preponderance of probabilities and the claimant is not required to prove the accident beyond reasonable doubt.

The Court thus held that “he Tribunal on meticulous appreciation of the evidence on record as well as on the basis of preponderance of probabilities has rightly held that the accident occurred on account of the negligence of the driver of the KSRTC bus.”

On the question of amount of compensation the Court held that after perusing the salary slip and income tax return statements and keeping in mind the future aspects the compensation was modified.

In view of the above, appeal was disposed off.[Gowri S. Patil v. Divisional Controller, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 447, decided on 04-02-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Division Bench of Justice Umesh Chandra Srivastava (Chairperson) and Vice Admiral Abhay Raghunath Karve (Member) A, heard the instant application seeking grant of special family pension.

Husband of the applicant was enrolled in the Army on 22-12-2003. While being posted to 20 RAJ RIF unit, he was granted 04 days Advance of Annual Leave from 06-11-2010 to 09-11-2010. On 06-11-2010 husband of applicant met with a road accident and subsequently died on 15-11-2010 in Command Hospital, Lucknow. A Court of Inquiry was convened and it was opined that death of husband of applicant was neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service and also not connected with military service. Accordingly, the applicant was granted an Ordinary Family Pension.

The applicant approached the government to sanction Special Family Pension but her case was rejected. Thereafter, she preferred O.A. No. 384 of 2018 before this Tribunal which was disposed of on 31-08-2018 with direction to the respondents to decide the pending appeal of the applicant by a speaking and reasoned order in accordance with law within a period of three months. Till date, the order had not been complied with. Thereafter, applicant filed Execution Application No. 236 of 2018, during which government passed the impugned order dated 18-11-2019 denying Special Family Pension to the applicant.

Noticing the report of the Court of Inquiry, the Tribunal expressed, the State had denied special family pension to the applicant on the reason that for getting special family pension, in respect of injury sustained resulted to death during course of employment, there must be some causal connection between the injury/death and military service, which was being lacking in applicant’s case.

 The Supreme Court, in  Madan Singh Shekhawat v. Union of India, (1999) 6 SSC 459 framed following points for consideration regarding grant of pension:-

“(a) When Armed Forces Personnel proceeds on casual leave or annual leave or leave of any kind, he is to be treated on duly

(b) There has to be causal connection between the injury or death caused by the military service. The injury or death must be intervention of armed forces service and not an accident which could be attributed to risk common to human being.”

In view of above guiding factors, the Tribunal reached to the findings that husband of the applicant was on advance of annual leave when he met with accident with another motorcycle and later succumbed to injuries, the activity in which he sustained injury resulted to death were neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service and not connected with his military duties in any manner’. Hence, the Tribunal dismissed the petition holding that the widow was not entitled to special family pension. [Neelam Singh v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine AFT 1815, decided on 04-02-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: J.R. Midha, J., while addressing a motor accidents claim application decided on the issue whether it would be fair to deny compensation for loss of dependency to a parent, who may not be dependent on his/her child at the time of accident per se but would become dependent at his/her later age?

In the instant application, the appellants challenged the award of the Claims Tribunal and sought enhancement of the award amount.

The deceased was aged 23 years at the time of the accident and was survived by his parents who claimed compensation. Deceased was self-employed as a Contractor earning Rs 55,000 to Rs 60,000 per month.

Claims Tribunal held that since the deceased’s father was working with the Delhi Police as Sub-Inspector, hence was not dependent upon the deceased. Also, the deceased’s mother could not be said to be dependent upon the deceased as her husband was employed with the Delhi Police.

Therefore the Claim Tribunal had concluded that the deceased’s parents were not entitled to compensation for loss of dependency but only to compensation for loss of the estate in terms of the principles laid down in Keith Rowe v. Prashant Sagar, 2011 ACJ 1734.

Analysis, Decision and Law

  • Whether the mother of the deceased is entitled to compensation for the death of her son?

Court opined that the parents of the deceased were considered in law as dependent on their children, considering that the children are bound to support their parents in their old age, when the parents would be unable to maintain themselves and the law imposes a responsibility on the children to maintain their parents.

Further, the Bench added that

Even if the parents are not dependent on their children at the time of the accident, they will certainly be dependent, both financially and emotionally, upon their children at the later stage of their life, as the children were dependent upon their parents in their initial years.

With regard to loss of dependency, the Court held that it would be unfair as well as inequitable to deny compensation for loss of dependency to a parent, who may not be dependent on his/her child at the time of accident per se but would become dependent at his/her later age.

Following are legislations that recognize the legal rights of parents to be maintained by their children:

♦ Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

♦ Section 20 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, and Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007

Bench referred to the following decisions:

Vijaya Manohar Arbat v. Kashirao Rajaram Sawai, (1987) 2 SCC 278.

In Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram, (2018) 18 SCC 130 Supreme Court had reaffirmed the with respect to the rights of parents to compensation in case of accidental death of a child.

Mahendrakumar Ramrao Gaikwad v. Gulabbai Ramrao Gaikwad, 2001 CriLJ 2111

In Sarla Verma v. D.T.C., (2009) 6 SCC 121, the Supreme Court held that the mother of the deceased bachelor is entitled to compensation by taking 50% of his income as loss of dependency on the premise that the deceased would not contribute more than 50% to his mother after marriage. The Supreme Court further observed that the mother would be considered as a dependent even if the father was employed and earning.

In light of the above decisions, the High Court held that the parents of the deceased child are considered as dependents for computation of compensation. Further, the Bench also highlighted that the principles relating to the loss to the estate shall apply only to claimants other than parents, children and spouse.

Hence, the deceased’s mother in the instant case is entitled to compensation for loss of dependency.

Compensation

Taking the income of the deceased as Rs 4,131 per month, adding 40% towards future prospects, deducting 50% towards personal expenses and applying the multiplier of 18, the loss of dependency is computed as Rs 6,24,607.20.

Court directed the appellant 1 to remain present in Court before the next date of hearing along with the passbook of her savings bank account near the place of her residence as well as PAN card and Aadhaar card.

Appellant 1 shall produce the original passbook of her individual savings bank account with the necessary endorsement on the next date of hearing. However, the bank concerned shall permit appellant 1 to withdraw money from her savings bank account by means of a withdrawal form.

While concluding in light of the above-stated, Court asked for the copy of this Judgment to be sent to Delhi Judicial Academy to sensitize the Claims Tribunals about the principles laid down by this Court in the present Judgment. [Indrawati v. Ranbir Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 114, decided on 08-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

For the Appellants: Santosh Kumar Chauriha, Advocate

For the Respondents: Atul Nigam, Advocate along with Anubhav Tyagi and Randhir Kumar, Advocates for R-3

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Ashok S. Kinagi J., allowed the appeal and applied the pay and recover principle fastening the liability on the owner to pay the compensation.

The facts of the case are such that the claimant was sitting in the backside of the auto-rickshaw, the driver was driving rashly and negligently without following traffic rules and regulations and dashed the same to a motorcycle which was going in front of auto-rickshaw because of which the auto turned turtle and the claimant sustained grievous injuries in the said accident. Thus, a claim petition was filed before the Tribunal for compensation which was thereby granted by holding that the respondents are jointly and severally liable to pay it. Being aggrieved by the same, the present appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that the tribunal has committed an error in fastening the liability on the insurer as the vehicle was plying outside the permitted limit and hence the insurance is not liable to pay compensation.

Counsel for the respondents supported the impugned judgment and award.

The Court relied on judgment Shamanna and Divisional Manager, Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., 2018 ACJ 2163 and observed that when there is a breach of policy conditions and the policy is in force as on the date of the accident, it is for the insurance company to pay the compensation amount and recover the same from the owner.

The Court thus held that the permit disclosed that offending vehicle was permitted to ply within 16 km from Savdatti but in fact, the accident has occurred outside the limit of Savadatti i.e., outside of 16 km from the permit limit. It was further observed that on the date of the accident the insurance policy was in force but at the time of the accident, the vehicle did not have permit at the accident spot. Thus there is a clear violation of policy conditions.

In view of the above, the appeal was allowed in part directing the insurer to pay the compensation amount and recover the same from the owner.[Divisional Manager v. Riyaz Ahmed, M.F.A. No. 100275/2015 (MV), decided on 06-02-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Anil K, Narendran, J., allowed this Motor Accident Claim Appeal filed against the order of Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal.

In the instant appeal, a claim petition filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 was challenged for being inadequate. The appellant sustained injuries in a motor accident, which occurred on 27-04-2014, while he was riding a motorcycle. At the place of accident, the motorcycle was hit by a car. The counsel for the motorcyclist K.A. Hassan alleged that the accident occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the car by the respondent 1. A claim petition was filed before the Tribunal claiming a total compensation of 4,50,000 rupees.

The car driver, while admitting the occurrence of accident contended through his counsel, A.A. Ziyad Rahman that the accident happened due to the rash and negligent riding of the motorcycle by the motorcyclist. It was contended by the Insurance Company that the compensation claimed is highly excessive.

The Tribunal arrived at a conclusion that the accident occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the car by its driver. The Tribunal awarded a total compensation of 99,500 rupees together with interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of petition till realisation.

The Court relied on National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, wherein a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that, Section 168 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 deals with the concept of ‘just compensation’ and the same has to be determined on the foundation of fairness, reasonableness and equitability on an acceptable legal standard. The aim is to achieve an acceptable degree of proximity to arithmetical precision on the basis of materials brought on record in an individual case.

 In the view of the above considerations, the Court granted an additional compensation of 15,750 rupees with interest at the rate of 8% per annum from the date of petition till realisation. Since insurance coverage of the said vehicle was not in dispute, the insurer was held liable to indemnify additional compensation granted in this appeal, together with interest to the insured within a period of two months. [Asharaf K.A v. Easow T.T., 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 7968, decided on 20-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker, J., observed that if the insurance co. will not be liable to pay interest, then it will be against the spirit of taking an insurance policy, and the very object for introducing insurance policy will get frustrated.

Appeals in the instant matter are out of the decision and award passed by the Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 being Additional Labour Commissioner, Kanpur awarding a sum of Rs 6,30,062 with interest at the rate of 9% in favour the claimants.

The owner was saddled with the liability to pay interest.

Question of law in the instant case:

Whether in the given facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission has committed a manifest error of law holding that if the respondent has failed to deposit the awarded amount within 30 days from the date of judgment then only claimants are entitled to the interest at the rate of 9% from the date of award till the amount is deposited.

Owner’s Counsel submitted that the Commissioner committed patent error directing the owner to pay interest.

Counsel for the insurance Company tried to point out that the judgment and order impugned was just and proper as it was the duty of the owner to notify the insurance company about the accident which was not done and hence the owner was saddled with the payment of interest till the date of the decision.

While dealing with the above question of law, the Court found it appropriate to reproduce Section 4A of the Act. 

Section 4A. Compensation to be paid when due and the penalty for default.

Supreme Court’s decision in Oriental Insurance Company v. Siby George, 2012 (4) T.A.C 4(SC) wherein it was held that the payment of interest is a consequence of default and it has to be directed to be paid without going into the reasons for the delay and only in case where the delay is without justification, the employer might also be held liable to a penalty after giving him a show-cause notice. Thus, just because the owner had not intimated to the Insurance Company, it cannot be the reason for not directing the Insurance Company to pay the interest.

Hence, in the findings that the Insurance Company will not be liable for interest is against the spirit of taking the insurance policy and the very object for introducing insurance policy would get frustrated.

High Court in view of the several Supreme Court decisions partly allowed the appeals.

Hence Judgment and award of the Commissioner shall stand modified to the aforesaid extent namely to the extent that the Insurance Company shall deposit the decretal amount with interest at the rate of 12% from one month after the date of accident till the amount is deposited.

In the present matter, it is the parents who were demanding from one son for the death of another son and they have claimed from Insurance Company with whom the vehicle was insured to make payment. Therefore, the minimum penalty of Rs 10,000 would suffice on the Insurance Company. 

Appellants shall deposit a sum of Rs 10,000 which would be a substitution for the penalty. [Chanda Begum v. Shahnawaz, 2020 SCC OnLine All 1487, decided on 16-12-2020]