Supreme Court Enhances Compensation In Motor Accident Case To ₹ 25.20 Lakhs In Which A Farmer Lost His Life
The Supreme Court has enhanced the compensation in a motor accident case to Rs. 25, 20, 000 in which a farmer lost his life.
The Court while allowing an appeal filed by the wife of the deceased held that the appellants were entitled to an enhanced amount of compensation of Rs. 25,20,000/- towards loss of dependency and the three appellants being the children and mother of the deceased, are entitled to ₹40,000/- each towards filial and parental consortium.
The Bench of Justice Krishna Murari and Justice S. Ravindra Bhatt observed that "On an application of the principles indicated in Magma General Insurance Co., this court is of the opinion that the filial and parental consortium have to be increased."
The Bench further held that-
"This court is of the opinion that even while the High Court increased the level of income, it did not address the issue in the correct perspective."
In this case, the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs. 6,66,000/- with interest at 6% p.a. in respect of an accident that occurred in the year 2004 which was enhanced by the High Court to Rs. 17,66,000 with 7.5% interest p.a. Being aggrieved by the error committed by the High Court in the computation of compensation for loss of income, and failure to award any amount under the head of 'loss of love and affection', the appellant filed the appeals before the Supreme Court.
It was contended by the appellant that the deceased was a farmer who cultivated approximately 66.95 acres of land, which included the land owned by his mother, brother and sister-in-law, but was cultivated by him and by way of a written agreement he was entitled to 1/3rd of the value of the produce and earned Rs.1,00,000/- per month in total. It was also contended that the amount awarded towards loss of consortium- especially in favour of the fourth petitioner (mother of the deceased) was too low.
It was further contended that his death affected the income generating capacity, and therefore, the loss of dependency on that score was vital. Therefore, the appellants filed the claim petition under Section 166 of the motor Vehicles Act, 1988 seeking total compensation of Rs. 1 crore.
Advocate Siddhartha Jha appeared for the appellants and Advocate Amit Kumar Singh appeared for the respondent.
The Apex Court noted that the tribunal arrived at a lump sum amount of 95,000/- per annum, and deducted 1/3rd from that sum, on the ground that it constituted expenditure, and made a further deduction of 1/3rd amount towards the deceased's living expenses and further held that it would be appropriate to compute the actual income at the rate of Rs. 1,50,000/- p.a. as the documentary evidence on record supported the appellant's case with regard to the cultivation of extensive lands and the deceased receiving 1/3rd of the total produce.
"Having regard to these facts, the assessment of income of @ 95,000/- appears to be on the lower end, and insufficient." observed the Court.
The Apex Court while deciding the amount to be awarded for loss of consortium, relied upon the principles laid down by this Court in the case of Magma General Insurance Co. v. Nanu Ram (2018) 18 SCC 130 indicating the correct approach in awarding amounts towards consortium.
The principles laid down were-
- "Spousal consortium is generally defined as rights pertaining to the relationship of a husband-wife which allows compensation to the surviving spouse for loss of "company, society, cooperation, affection, and aid of the other in every conjugal relation". [Black's Law Dictionary (5th Edn., 1979).
- Parental consortium is granted to the child upon the premature death of a parent, for loss of 'parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and training'.
- Filial consortium is the right of the parents to compensation in the case of an accidental death of a child. An accident leading to the death of a child causes great shock and agony to the parents and family of the deceased. The greatest agony for a parent is to lose their child during their lifetime. Children are valued for their love, affection, companionship and their role in the family unit."
The Apex Court therefore held that "the filial and parental consortium have to be increased. Each of the children, and the mother of the deceased, is entitled to 40,000/-. Thus, the total amount payable towards filial and parental ₹ consortium is 1,20,000/-."
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.
Cause Title- Harpreet Kaur & Ors. V. Mohinder Yadav & Ors.