In The Absence Of Documentary Evidence In Motor Accident Claims, Guesswork Not Detached From Reality Can Be Done To Fix Monthly Income: SC
A two-judge Bench of Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Hrishikesh Roy has held that merely because the claimants were unable to produce documentary evidence to prove the monthly income of the deceased, the same would not justify the adoption of the lowest tier of minimum wage for computing the income.
In the case, the Appellants had appealed before the Supreme Court claiming enhanced compensation that arose out of the application filed under section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
The compensation was claimed owing to the death of Appellants' son who was a heavy vehicle driver, in a road accident.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Tribunal, Ajmer, Rajasthan had awarded them compensation of Rs.10,99,700/ with interest @ 6% p.a instead of Rs.93,08,000/ with interest @ 15% p.a. as prayed for by the Appellants.
The High Court had dismissed the Appeal of the Appellants.
The Appellants had contended that their son was earning Rs. 15000 per month. Apart from the claim on account of loss of dependency they had also claimed compensation for all conventional heads. Also, compensation was claimed under the head of 'loss of consortium.'
The Court observed that the contention of the wife of the deceased that he was earning Rs. 15000 a month was not considered merely because a salary certificate could not be produced.
Also, the monthly income of the deceased was fixed by the Tribunal by adopting the minimum wage as notified for skilled labour.
The Court opined, "In absence of salary certificate the minimum wage notification can be a yardstick but at the same time cannot be an absolute one to fix the income of the deceased."
"In absence of documentary evidence on record some amount of guesswork is required to be done. But at the same time the guesswork for assessing the income of the deceased should not be totally detached from reality," the Bench asserted.
The Bench noted that the Court below had discarded the oral evidence of the wife of the deceased that he was earning Rs. 15000 a month. The Bench also noted that in an earlier judgment, the Supreme Court had taken Rs.6000 as a monthly income of a driver of a light motor vehicle, in the year 2004.
"Keeping in mind the enormous growth of vehicle population and demand for good drivers and by considering oral evidence on record we may take the income of the deceased at Rs.8000/ per month for the purpose of loss of dependency," the Court held.
In the light of these observations, the Court allowed the appeal partly and awarded the Appellants a further compensation of Rs.3,33,964/ on account of loss of dependency and consortium amount of Rs.40,000/ each to the parents of the deceased.