Schedule II Of MV Act Has Not Been Amended Despite Repeated Directions To Government: Supreme Court While Enhancing Notional Income
A two-judge Bench of Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Hrishikesh Roy has held that in spite of repeated directions, the Government did not amend Schedule II under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act. Therefore, fixing notional income at Rs. 15,000/ - per annum for non-earning persons would not be fair and justified.
The Court also held, "It is a fit case to increase the notional income by taking into account the inflation, devaluation of the rupee and cost of living."
Advocate Mr. S.N. Bhat appeared for the Appellants, while Advocate Mr. V.S. Chopra appeared for the Respondents during the proceedings before the Court.
An appeal was preferred by the Appellants-Claimants assailing the judgment of the Jharkhand High Court which had partly allowed the appeal of the Claimants and awarded a sum of Rs. 15,000/- towards funeral expenses. The Court awarded compensation of Rs. 2, 40,000/- along with interest.
In this case, the son of the Appellants aged about 7 years had died as a motorcycle had dashed him causing grievous injuries. The Appellants-Claimants had filed a Claim Petition under Section 163-A of the MV Act claiming compensation. The claimants had contended that due to the rash and negligent driving of Respondent No. 1 their son had died.
The Tribunal, fixing the notional income of the deceased at 15,000/- p.a. awarded compensation of Rs. 2, 25,000/- with interest at 6% p.a.
Since Respondent No. 1 (driver of the motorcycle) was not in possession of a valid driving licence at the time of the accident, the Tribunal directed Respondent No. 2 (Insurance Company) to recover the amount the compensation from the former.
The Appellant contended before the Court that the compensation awarded by the High Court was not just and fair. It was further argued that the notional income was fixed at Rs. 15, 000/- p.a. was fixed as early in 1994 and the same continued in the statute without any amendment by the Government in spite of repeated directions by the Court. Also, the notional income as fixed was to be taken into account the increase in the cost of living.
The Apex Court while relying on various precedents held that in spite of repeated directions Schedule II is not yet amended. Therefore, fixing notional income at Rs. 15,000/- p.a. for non-earning members was not just and fair.
The Court further observed, "We deem it appropriate to take notional income of the deceased at Rs.25, 000/- (Rupees twenty five thousand only) per annum."
Additionally, the Bench enhanced the compensation and awarded Rs. 3, 75,000/- to the Appellants-Claimants towards the loss of dependency.
Also, the claimants were awarded a sum of Rs. 40,000/- each towards filial consortium and Rs. 15,000/- towards funeral expenses.
Hence, the total compensation of Rs. 4, 70,000/- was awarded to the Appellants with 6% interest p.a. from the date of claim petition till the date of realization.
"The entire compensation shall be paid to the appellants by respondent No.2 - Insurance Company, and we keep it open to the Insurance Company to recover the same from respondent No.1 - owner of the motorcycle by initiating appropriate proceedings as the motorcycle was driven by the driver who was not possessing valid driving licence on the date of the accident," the Bench directed.
In the light of these observations, the Court partly allowed the appeal.