The apex court said the process of determining compensation by the court is essentially a “very difficult task” and can never be an exact science. A perfect compensation is hardly possible, more so in claims of injury and disability, it said.
A bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala enhanced the compensation awarded to a man, who suffered permanent disability to the extent of 45 per cent on account of a road accident in July 2012 in Karnataka, to Rs 21,78,600.
“We have come across many orders of different tribunals and unfortunately affirmed by different high courts, taking the view that the claimant is not entitled to compensation for future prospects in accident cases involving serious injuries resulting in permanent disablement. That is not a correct position of law,” the bench said in its 71-page verdict.
“Such a narrow reading is illogical because it denies altogether the possibility of the living victim progressing further in life in accident cases – and admits such possibility of future prospects, in case of the victim’s death,” the bench observed.
The top court delivered the judgement on an appeal filed by a man named Sidram against the April 2018 verdict of the Karnataka High Court which had enhanced the compensation awarded by a Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal in Belgaum by Rs 3,13,800 to Rs 9,26,800.
The bench noted the tribunal had awarded a compensation of Rs 6,13,000 along with interest at the rate of six per cent per annum from the date of filing of the petition till the date of realisation of payment.
Challenging the high court verdict, the appellant urged for further enhancement of compensation in the case.
The bench said the principle consistently followed by the apex court in assessing motor vehicle compensation claims is to place the victim in as near a position as she or he was before the accident, with other compensatory directions for loss of amenities and other payments.
“There is no justification to exclude the possibility of compensation for future prospects in accident cases involving serious injuries resulting in permanent disablement,” it said.
It said the apex court has emphasised time and again that a “just compensation” should include all elements that would go to place the victim in as near a position as she or he was before the occurrence of the accident.
“Whilst no amount of money or other material compensation can erase the trauma, pain and suffering that a victim undergoes after a serious accident, (or replace the loss of a loved one), monetary compensation is the manner known to law, whereby society assures some measure of restitution to those who survive, and the victims who have to face their lives,” it said.
Dealing with the case, the bench said the evidence on record indicated that the appellant suffered paraplegia, a form of paralysis of lower body, due to the accident.
It also noted the appellant was 19 years old at the time of the accident.
The bench, while referring to a previous verdict of the apex court, said it is of the view that it is not necessary to adduce any documentary evidence to prove the notional income of the victim and the court can award the same even in their absence.
It said the pain and suffering would be categorised as a non-pecuniary loss as it is incapable of being arithmetically calculated.
Referring to another judgement of the top court, the bench said, as observed in that verdict, the courts should be mindful that a serious injury not only permanently imposes physical limitations and disabilities but too often inflicts deep mental and emotional scars upon the victim, and directed the insurance company to pay the appellant the difference in the compensation awarded. PTI ABA ABA SK SK