Singh Gujral Vs. Inderjit Singh & Anr  Insc 669 (19 October 2006)
Sinha & Dalveer Bhandari
out of S.L.P. (C) No. 16501 of 2005] WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4562 OF 2006 [Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 1134 of 2005] S.B.
SINHA, J :
herein is a practicing lawyer. While riding on a scooter, he met with an
accident as a tempo which was allegedly being driven rashly and negligently by
Respondent No. 1 dashed therewith. He is said to have suffered a permanent disability.
filed an application under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 praying
for grant of compensation of Rs.1,00,000/-. An application for amendment of the
said claim petition was filed raising the amount of compensation to Rs.5,00,000/-
Motor Accident Claims Tribunal by a judgment and award dated 15th March, 1986 awarded a sum of Rs.1,83,000/-,
details whereof are as under:
Damage on account of agony, shock pain and suffering of the appellant Rs.
Damages on account of hospitalization including medicines Rs. 20,000.00
Damages on account of loss of income Rs. 1,12,000.00
Damages on account of the damage caused to the scooter Rs. 1,000.00 Total Rs.
1,83,000.00" The Tribunal as regards the purported plea of the Insurer
that its liability is limited, opined :
perusal shows that liability of the insurance company is limited to the extent
of Rs. 1,50,000/- Counsel for the claimant contended before me that as the
insurance policy has not been tendered the same in evidence, so, should be held
that the liability of insurance company is unlimited. It is no doubt true that
the insurance policy has not been tendered the policy in evidence. But as the
insurance policy is only on the file, I am of the view that this court taken
note of it. So, it is held that the liability of insurance company is only to
the extent of Rs. 1,50,000/- and interest on the same and rest of the amount
will be paid by the respondent No. 1. The issue is decided accordingly."
An appeal thereagainst was filed by Appellant before the High Court.
learned Single Judge of the High Court enhanced the amount of compensation to Rs.
2,90,000/-. A direction was also issued upon Respondent to pay interest at the
rate of 12% per annum on the amount of compensation from the date of filing
thereof till the date of realization. The learned Single Judge also set aside
the findings of the learned Tribunal to the effect that the liability of the
insurance company was limited to Rs. 1,50,000/-.
being not satisfied, an intra-court appeal was filed by Appellant herein.
Before a Division Bench of the High Court, the question which was raised on
behalf of Appellant was as to whether he having suffered permanent disability
would be entitled to any further compensation as he may have to engage a driver
to drive his car in future. A contention as regards higher amount of
compensation was also raised towards purported loss of prospective income. The
Division Bench by reason of the impugned judgment enhanced only the amount of
compensation under the head of 'loss of income' from Rs. 1,12,000/- to Rs.
1,50,000/- relying on the decision of this Court in Lata Wadhwa and Others v.
State of Bihar and Others [(2001) 8 SCC 197].
not satisfied, Appellant is before us.
Singh Malik, learned counsel appearing on behalf of Appellant, would inter alia
submit that the High Court committed an error in denying enhanced compensation
to Appellant despite noticing the fact that he has attained permanent
disability and he would not be able to drive a vehicle himself and, thus, will
have to appoint a driver. It was urged that the High Court failed to consider
the question of grant of enhanced compensation without taking into
consideration his prospective income. It was further submitted that although
interest on an enhanced amount should have been granted, the High Court erred
in not doing so without assigning any sufficient or cogent reason therefor.
S.L. Gupta, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the insurance company would,
on the other hand, submit that although the insurance policy was not proved,
the same having brought on records, the liability of insurance company must be
held to be limited to Rs. 1,50,000/-. As Appellant on the date of accident was
riding on a two-wheeler and not a car, the question of awarding compensation
for not being able to drive a car does not arise. It was submitted that as
Appellant did not suffer any permanent disability and as the Tribunal as also
the High Court had only granted general benefits, this Court should not
interfere with the impugned judgments. No claim of interest having been made,
it was urged, Appellant must be held to be not entitled thereto.
not disputed that the vehicle in question was insured. The fact that an
accident had taken place as also the fact that Appellant suffered injuries is
also not disputed. Appellant on 6.8.1984 was riding on a scooter.
scooter dashed with a tempo bearing No. CHW 4257. He in his application
initially claimed only a sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- by way of compensation. He did
not claim any interest on the said amount.
noticed hereinbefore, filed an application for amendment of the claim petition
only at a much later stage. The learned Tribunal noticed the extent of injuries
suffered by him and also took into consideration the evidences of doctors who
had examined and treated him and awarded compensation under different heads. In
regard to his future loss of income, the Tribunal noticed his income tax
returns for the financial year prior to his meeting with the accident as also
the year in question. The annual loss to his private practice was taken at Rs.
700/- per month.
learned Tribunal, however, committed an error in opining that the insurance
policy was not required to be proved. The learned Single Judge of the High
Court, in our opinion, rightly held that the insurance policy having not
brought on records, a presumption would arise that the liability of the insurer
was unlimited. The learned Single Judge adopted a rather liberal approach. He
took into consideration the entire evidence on records including the extent of
disability allegedly suffered by Appellant. It was opined:
appellant is lawyer by the profession. This profession needs unhampered
concentration for the full devotion to the cases he might handle. When bodily
pain and suffering subsist and there is even danger of such pain resulting in
attack of the engina it certainly amounts to a great incapacity in performance
of his professional duties by the appellant. The agony and suffering on this
account which last with his life is difficult to measure in terms of money but
I am decidedly of the view that damages to the tune of Rs. 50,000/- as awarded
by the learned Tribunal under this head are grossly inadequate. Keeping in view
all the facts and circumstances brought on the record, I shall assess damages
under this Head at Rs. 1,00,000/-." It was held that he was also entitled
to the services of his wife who in turn would require some outside assistance
and on that head awarded a sum of Rs. 57,600/-. He furthermore awarded interest
at the rate of 12% per annum.
Division Bench, in our opinion, had also taken a somewhat liberal view in favour
of Appellant than he deserved. The Division Bench of the High Court opined that
Appellant might have to engage a driver and for the said purpose awarded
compensation at the rate of Rs. 700/- per month from the date of filing of
claim petition till the award by the Tribunal. Appellant now wants the amount
of compensation to be enhanced on that head. We decline to do so for more than
has not proved that he had bought a car. He even on the date of accident was
merely riding on a scooter. He has not brought on record any evidence to show
that even at that point of time he could afford a car. As indicated
hereinbefore, the learned Single Judge as also the Division Bench of the High
Court was more than generous in enhancing the amount of compensation.
as the question of interest is concerned, it is true that the same need not be
claimed specifically. Interest is granted by way of compensation but, as has
been held in Abati Bezbaruah v. Dy. Director General, Geological Survey of
India and Another [(2003) 3 SCC 148], the same must be a reasonable one. In Abati
Bezbaruah (supra), this Court directed payment of interest only at the rate of
9% per annum, whereas the rate of interest awarded in favour of the claimant
was @ 12% per annum.
J. in his separate judgment, whereupon Mr. Malik has placed strong reliance,
opined that the rate of interest must be just and reasonable depending upon the
facts and circumstances of each case and taking all relevant factors including
inflation, change of economy, policy being adopted by Reserve Bank of India
from time to time, how long the case is pending, permanent injuries suffered by
the victim, enormity of suffering, loss of future income, loss of enjoyment of
life, etc. into consideration. Grant of interest is discretionary. We do not
find that the discretion exercised by the High Court was in any manner
has been placed by the learned counsel in Abati Bezbaruah (supra) for the
proposition of law that that future prospect of income should also be taken
into consideration. We may notice that in that case multiplier of 15 was
applied. The Tribunal had noticed that the income of the deceased was assessed
only at Rs.3,500/- per month and, thus, the loss of dependency should have been
enhanced to the tune of Rs. 2,000/- per month. This Court instead of granting Rs.
42,000/- per year increased the same to Rs. 45,000/- per year and the loss of
dependency was, thus, calculated at Rs. 30,000/- instead of Rs. 28,000/-. The
claimant in that case was a salaried person.
herein before us is in legal profession. He may have suffered some injuries but
the same would not mean that he would not be in a position to rise in his
profession only by reason thereof. We, therefore, decline to enhance any amount
of compensation in this behalf.
as the amount of interest is concerned, we may notice that in Devi Dayal Kansal
and Others v. Raj Roop and Another [(2000) 10 SCC 314] this Court merely opined
that interest would have been directed to be granted on the enhanced
compensation but no law in absolute terms was laid down therefor.
learned Single Judge has awarded interest at the rate of 12% per annum. The
rate of interest now granted is 9% per annum keeping in view the drastic fall
in the bank rate. We, therefore, do not intend to interfere with the said
direction of the High Court.
placed by Mr. Malik on Lata Wadhwa (supra) is not apposite. Therein multiplier
method for determining compensation was resorted to as death occurred and
injuries suffered by many persons in a devastating fire resulted from
negligence on the part of the Company. [See Krishna Gupta & Ors. v. Madan Lal & Ors. 96 (2002) DLT 829]
Furthermore, as noticed hereinbefore, both the learned Single Judge as also the
Division Bench was more than generous in awarding compensation to Appellant
under different heads.
therefore, do not intend to interfere with the impugned judgments. The appeals
are dismissed accordingly. No costs.