The Supreme Court while enhancing the amount of compensation claimed by the Appellant (Mother of the deceased) in her Claim Petition has observed that there is no restriction on the Court/Tribunal to award compensation exceeding the amount claimed.

The Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice J.K. Maheshwari enhanced the amount of compensation as awarded by the High Court from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs in a motor accident case of a 12-year-old child. The compensation was awarded to the mother of the deceased child who had filed a plea before the Apex Court for the enhancement of the compensation as awarded by the High Court of Jharkhand at Ranchi.

The Appellant-Mother had initially claimed Rs. 2 lakhs in her Claim Petition which was awarded by the High Court.

However, later the Appellant approached the Apex Court and questioned the adequacy of the compensation so awarded contention that the High Court erred in assessing the amount in the heads of "pecuniary" and "non-pecuniary" loss.

Further, the Appellant also argued before the Court that MACT and High Court have not granted any amount under the head "loss of prospective happiness" and other conventional heads and the amount as granted under the head of loss of dependency was inadequate. Therefore, the compensation may be enhanced.

Counsels Anup Kumar and Anuradha Mutatkar appeared for Respondents 1 and 2 respectively before the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court while referring to various precedents noted that in place of issuing any guidelines for determination of compensation in case of death of a child, it may be left open to be decided in the facts and circumstances of each case.

The Court further placed reliance on Kurvan Ansari @ Kurvan Ali & another vs. Shyam Kishore Murmu and another (2022) 1 SCC 317 wherein a child aged about 7 years died in a road accident, the Court taking notional income as Rs. 25,000/-, applying the multiplier of 15, calculated the loss of dependency as Rs. 3,75,000/- and adding Rs. 55,000/- in conventional heads, awarded Rs. 4,70,000/-.

The Bench further also noted that from the statement of the mother of the deceased, it was clear that the deceased was a brilliant student and studying in a private school and thus held –

"Therefore, accepting the notional earning Rs. 30,000/- including future prospect and applying the multiplier of 15 in view of the decision of this Court in Sarla Verma (supra), the loss of dependency comes to Rs. 4,50,000/- and if we add Rs. 50,000/- in conventional heads, then the total sum of compensation comes to Rs. 5,00,000/-."

Thus, the Court awarded total compensation of Rs. 5,00,000 to the mother of the deceased and further also observed-

"At this stage, it is necessary to clarify that as per the decision of a Three-Judge Bench of this Court in Nagappa vs. Gurdayal Singh and others (2003) 2 SCC 274, it was observed that under the MV Act, there is no restriction that the Tribunal/Court cannot award compensation exceeding the amount so claimed. The Tribunal/Court ought to award 'just' compensation which is reasonable in the facts relying upon the evidence produced on record. Therefore, less valuation, if any, made in the Claim Petition would not be impediment to award just compensation exceeding the claimed amount."

Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal.

Cause Title – Meena Devi v. Nunu Chand Mahto @ Nemchand Mahto & Ors.

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