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