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S. Chandra Vs. Pallvan Transport Corporation [1994] INSC 36 (17 January 1994)

Kuldip Singh (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Yogeshwar Dayal (J)

CITATION: 1994 SCC (2) 189

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

ORDER

1. IA is allowed

2. Special Leave granted.

Arising out of SLP (C) No. 13886 of 1987 190

3. While traveling in the bus owned by the respondent- Corporation, on November 1, 1979, Sundaravaradhan fell out of the bus and died as a consequence of the injuries sustained by him. Appellant 1, in the appeal herein, is the widow of the deceased and the other appellants are his children. The appellants in their claim application before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal claimed Rs 1 lakh as compensation. The Tribunal allowed the application and awarded Rs 75,000. The respondent-Corporation went in appeal before the High Court against the order of the Tribunal. The High Court upheld the finding of the Tribunal that Sundaravaradhan fell out of the bus due to the negligence on tile part of the driver of the Corporation but on the basis of perverse reasoning reduced the compensation to Rs 48,680. The claimants have challenged the judgment of the High Court in this appeal.

4. We have heard learned counsel for the parties. The High Court reduced the compensation on the following reasoning:

"11. Regarding quantification of damages payable, it is contended by the learned Advocate-General that as the deceased was employed in M/s Simpson & Co., and being a permanent employee therein, he cannot claim that he was making private earnings. On behalf of petitioners, no Standing Order or Regulation or any special order issued to the deceased permitting him to make private earnings, had been produced. Therefore, except the amount mentioned in Exh. P-4 salary certificate, no other earnings claimed by petitioners based on Exh. P-6 to P-8 and P-10 could be taken into account. In Exh. P- 4, his salary is mentioned as Rs 630.08. Out of this, two-third he would have provided to the family. So annually it would be Rs 5040.

He was aged 42 at the time of accident.

Relying on the statistics furnished in the Works Development Report, 1985, this Court had been consistently fixing the multiplier, by taking into account the average expectation of life in India at 55, and therefore, the multiplier therein is fixed at 13. Hence, he would have provided Rs 65,520. Out of this lump sum arrived at for imponderables and uncertainty of life, one-third of deducted, and therefore, the compensation towards loss of earnings is fixed at Rs 43,680. The unusual amount of Rs 5000 is added towards loss of expectation of life."

5. We are inclined to set aside the High Court judgment on the short ground. We are of the view that the High Court fell into patent error in reaching the finding that the average expectancy of life in India was 55 years. It cannot be disputed that the life expectancy in India even in the year 1979 was not less than 65 years. We, therefore, hold that the appellants were entitled to a multiplier of 20.

Accepting the High Court finding that the annual expenditure by the deceased on his family was Rs 5040, we give a multiplier of 20 to reach the compensation. Since the appellants have claimed Rs 1 lakh as compensation we grant the same. We set aside the High Court judgment and modify the judgment of the Tribunal to the extent that the appellants shall be entitled to Rs 1 lakh as compensation from the respondent-Corporation. The appellants shall be entitled to 12% interest as 191 awarded by the High Court. The appeal is allowed in the above terms with costs. We quantify the costs at Rs 10,000.

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