of Haryana & Anr Vs. Jasbir Kaur & Ors
 Insc 350 (5
Raju & Arijit Pasayat.
Out of S.L.P. (Civil) No.21267 of 2001 ARIJIT PASAYAT,J.
in this appeal is to the legality and propriety of the judgment rendered by
Division Bench of High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh, dismissing the appeal filed by the
State of Haryana and General Manager, Road
Transport, Fatehabad, the present appellants.
nutshell, the background facts relevant for the purpose of dealing with this
appeal are as follows:
Singh (hereinafter referred to as 'the deceased') lost his life in a vehicle
accident on 3.2.1999.
widow (respondent no.1) and minor son Sewak Singh (respondent No.2) filed claim
petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (for short 'the
Act') for grant of compensation to the tune of Rs.10 lakhs. In the claim
petition the mother of the deceased was impleaded as proforma respondent. The
claimants asserted in the claim petition that the vehicle involved in the
accident was owned by the Haryana Roadways and one Om Parkash was driving the
vehicle bearing no. HR-39-0418. It was pleaded that the deceased was 25 years
old, was an agriculturist and was earning about Rs.10,000/- per month by
cultivating his agricultural land and from his avocation of purchasing and
selling cattles, and by selling milk.
claim was resisted by the appellant-Haryana Roadways by taking the stand that
there was no rash and negligence on the part of the driver of the vehicle and
in any event there was contributory negligence on the part of the deceased. The
claim was also resisted on the ground that amount claimed was highly
exaggerated, without any rational basis and there was no material to show as to
what was the deceased's income and the deprivation of financial contribution by
the deceased to his family. Another claim petition was filed by one Ajaib Singh
who stated to have been injured in the accident in question. We are not
presently concerned with his case. Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Fatehabad
(in short 'Tribunal') by order dated 27.3.2001 held that the claimants were
entitled to compensation of Rs.6.5 lakhs for loss of pecuniary benefits.
further stipulated that the claimants would be entitled to the interest @ 9% on
the amount of compensation from the date of application till realization. For
determining the compensation the Tribunal held that the monthly income of the
deceased can be reasonably assessed at Rs.4500 per month. After deducting
Rs.1500/- for personal expenses, the Tribunal took Rs.3000/- per month to be
the contribution and multiplier of 18 was applied as per second schedule to the
Act. The appeal before the High Court filed by the present appellants was dismissed
on the ground that there was no infirmity in the award.
counsel for the appellants submitted that with practically no evidence the
Tribunal and the High Court proceeded to award Rs.6.5 lakhs. There was not even
an iota of evidence to substantiate the claim of agricultural income from about
4 acres of land and there was no evidence that the deceased was having any
income from sale of milk or cattle. The High Court having accepted that there
was no material to show that the deceased had any income from sale of cattle or
milk came to an abrupt and presumptuous conclusion that monthly income was
Rs.4500/-. There was no material to show as to what was the type of land,
annual yield, if any, and therefore, the award is not sustainable in law, and the
High Court erred in dismissing the appeal.
contra, learned counsel for the claimants submitted that the High Court has
gone by the probabilities and the realities of life. Even if it is accepted
that there was no material to show the income from the agricultural or dairy, a
rational view can be taken about the possible income from the agricultural
land, which the Tribunal did and the High Court give its seal of approval.
to be kept in view that the Tribunal constituted under the Act as provided in
Section 168 is required to make an award determining the amount of compensation
which is to be in the real sense "damages" which in turn appears to
it to be 'just and reasonable'. It has to be borne in mind that compensation
for loss of limbs or life can hardly be weighed in golden scales. But at the
same time it has be to be borne in mind that the compensation is not expected
to be a windfall for the victim. Statutory provisions clearly indicate the
compensation must be "just" and it cannot be a bonanza; not a source
of profit; but the same should not be a pittance. The Courts and Tribunals have
a duty to weigh the various factors and quantify the amount of compensation,
which should be just. What would be "just" compensation is a vexed question.
There can be no golden rule applicable to all cases for measuring the value of
human life or a limb. Measure of damages cannot be arrived at by precise
mathematical calculations. It would depend upon the particular facts and
circumstances, and attending peculiar or special features, if any. Every method
or mode adopted for assessing compensation has to be considered in the
background of "just" compensation which is the pivotal consideration.
Though by use of the expression "which appears to it to be just" a
wide discretion is vested on the Tribunal, the determination has to be
rational, to be done by a judicious approach and not the outcome of whims, wild
guesses and arbitrariness. The expression "just" denotes
equitability, fairness and reasonableness, and non- arbitrary. If it is not so
it cannot be just. (See Helen C.
v. Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (AIR 1998 SC 3191).
clear on a bare reading of the Tribunal's decision as affirmed by the High
Court that no material was placed before the former to prove as to what was the
rightly contended by learned counsel for the appellants, there was not even any
material adduced to show type of land which the deceased possessed. The matter
can be approached from a different angle. The land possessed by the deceased
still remains with the claimants as his legal heirs. There is however a
possibility that the claimants may be required to engage persons to look after
agriculture. Therefore, the normal rule about the deprivation of income is not
strictly applicable to cases where agricultural income is the source.
circumstances have to be considered. Furthermore, there was no material before
the Tribunal to arrive at the figure of Rs.4500 per month. No reason has been
indicated to arrive at this figure. In the light of what has been discussed
above about "just compensation" the income cannot be estimated
without any material to justify the estimation. In the normal course, we would
have remitted the matter back to the Tribunal for fresh consideration. But
considering the fact that one young person lost his life, and the matter was
pending before the Tribunal and the High Court for some years, we feel it
appropriate to take all relevant factors into consideration, and decide the matter.
the relevant aspects, noted above, the monthly income is fixed at Rs.3000/- per
month, and after deducting Rs.1,000/- for personal expenses, financial
contribution so far as the claimants are concerned is fixed at Rs.2,000/- per
month. Worked out on the basis of multiplier of 18, the compensation is fixed
at Rs.4,32,000/-. The amount of Rs.2,000/- awarded by the Tribunal for funeral
expenses is not interfered with and thus the total compensation comes to
Rs.4,34,000/-. The rate of interest i.e. 9% per annum as fixed by the Tribunal
and affirmed by the High Court is appropriate, and does not need any
alteration. After adjusting the sum which was deposited pursuant to the order
of this Court dated 14.12.2001, the balance amount along with interest shall be
deposited within three months from today before the Tribunal. On the deposit
being made along with the amount already deposited, a sum of Rs.3 lakhs shall
be kept in the fixed deposit in the name of the claimants and a sum of Rs.50,000/-
shall be kept in fixed deposit in the name of Smt. Baldev Kaur, mother of the
deceased. They shall be entitled to draw interest on the deposit, which shall
be re-deposited for further terms of five years. In case of urgent need, it
shall be open to the claimants to move Tribunal for release of any part of the
amount in deposit. The Tribunal shall consider the request for withdrawal and
shall direct withdrawal in case of an urgent need and not otherwise of such sum
as would meet the need.
shall be specifically indicated to the Bank where the deposits are to be made
that no advance or withdrawal of any kind shall be permitted without the order
of the Tribunal.
shall be open to the claimants to approach the Tribunal for variance of the
order relating to deposit in fixed deposit, if any other scheme would fetch
better returns and also would provide regular and permanent income.
appeal is allowed to the extent indicated. Costs made easy.