‘In our country, there are so many instances that a person with less academic career has become a successful industrialist and even participated in generating the economic growth of the nation.’
While upholding compensation awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) to a student who suffered accident, the Tripura High Court has observed that academic qualification cannot be the sole criteria to determine the merits of a person and there should not be any discrimination in determining the loss of earning capacity on account of disability occurred due to road traffic accident, particularly, when claimant-victims are students.
The insurance company had come in appeal against the tribunal order awarding Rs.10,000 per month applying the principle of V Mekala v. M Malathi. It was contended that the amount of compensation considering the income of the claimant-victim at Rs.10,000 per month applying the principle of Mekala ought not to have been made as the student having passed matriculation with 3rd division cannot be compared with a student of brilliance like Mekala who stood first in Class XI examination.
In this case, the claimant had passed matriculation with 3rd division in the year 2012 and he was admitted to one-year diploma course.
In Makela case, the victim was studying in the 11th standard and ranked first in her school when she sustained grievous injury and became permanently disabled. The apex court had awarded compensation to the girl, in that case, considering the facts that she could have acquired a professional degree and procured a well-paid job either in public or private sector and subsequent revision of pay scale, increment, promotional benefits etc.
Justice Arindam Lodh observed: “I should not lose my sight to the rapid societal changes which influence the economic scenario and job prospects due to recession and uncertainty in respect of employment, both in Government and Private sector. A change of mind-set is also being noticed of late, that a young man instead of looking for government job prefers to be entrepreneur even with lesser qualification. In our country, there are so many instances that a person with less academic career has become a successful industrialist and even participated in generating the economic growth of the nation. In the instant case, though the claimant has secured 3rd division in matriculation examination, but he did not stop his studies rather, he was admitted in a diploma course which might have paved a way to acquire a higher degree. The claimant also could have been a successful entrepreneur. The matter would have been different if it was found that he is a daily wage earner.”
Upholding the compensation awarded by the tribunal, the court said: “The Apex Court in Mekala (Supra) nowhere has stated that a person with less academic qualification could not earn more than Rs.10,000/- per month. Also we should not be oblivious that there is gradual fall in the value of money which also requires continuing re-assessment to arrive at a decision keeping in mind that the spirit and object of Section 168 of the Motor Vehicle Act is to award just and reasonable compensation which should be adequate, considering the nature of the injuries, as in the present case as well as the other important facets of life. From the disability certificate, it is clear that the victim claimant has suffered 90 % disability. His lower portion has become totally inactive due to Traumatic Paraplegia and this condition is non-progressive. A person with such disability could not even sit or stand up without escort.”