The Supreme Court while allowing an appeal in part that was filed by the wife and children of the victim of a motor vehicle accident held that the appellants are entitled to an enhanced amount of compensation of Rs. 10,29,260/-.

The Bench headed by Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice C.T. Ravikumar observed that "We have carefully gone through the award passed by the Tribunal and the judgment of the High Court whereby the quantum of compensation was enhanced by Rs. 2,95,000/-, on re-assessment. They would reveal that future prospects were not taken into account while fixing the 'multiplicand'."

Advocate Rameshwar Prasad Goyal appeared on behalf of the appellants whereas, Advocate Ashok Mathur appeared for the respondent.

Facts of the case –

The appellants/ claimants who are respectively the wife and children of the victim of a motor vehicle accident were dissatisfied and aggrieved with the judgment passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana.

In the year 2009, the deceased was among the passengers in a bus of Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation which was driven by the deceased husband of the respondent. The said bus fell into the river Chenab due to which the husband of the appellant drowned in the river and died.

It was alleged that such an incident took place due to the rash and negligent driving of the driver of the bus. Therefore, the appellants filed the claim petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 seeking total compensation of Rs. 50 lakhs.

The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal on the principle of vicarious liability held jointly and severally liable the husband of the respondent and granted compensation of Rs. 17,73,704/- with a 6% interest rate. Being aggrieved by the inadequacy of the compensation, the appellants moved to High Court.

The High Court re-assessed the compensation and granted an additional compensation of Rs. 2,95,000/- along with an interest rate of 9% p.a. But the appellants were still not satisfied with the amount of compensation and therefore filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The Court held that under the head of 'loss of dependency,' the Appellants are entitled to get an enhanced amount of Rs. 8,84,160/- and accordingly, Rs. 15,000/- each is awarded to the appellants under the head of 'loss of estate' and the 'funeral expenses.'

The Court also held that an amount of Rs. 65,000/- granted in excess under the head of 'loss of consortium' must be deducted.

Therefore, the appeal was allowed in part in the way that the appellants were held to be entitled to an enhanced amount of compensation of Rs. 10,29,260/- The Court directed that the enhanced amount shall be paid by the State Road Transport Corporation of J&K within a period of 8 weeks.

Also, the Apex Court directed that the amount of Rs. 1 lakh granted under the head of 'love and affection' by the HC shall be deducted.

The Court also ordered that in case of failure of payment of compensation, the enhanced amount will be carrying interest at the rate of 6% p.a. from the date of filing the appeal till the date of realisation.

Hence, the appeal was allowed in part.

Cause Title – Raj Bala & Ors. v. Rakeja Begam & Ors.

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