A Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.K. Goel has observed that in case “the accused is unable to pay adequate compensation to the victim or his heir, the Court ought to have awarded compensation under Section 357A against the State from the funds available under the Victim Compensation Scheme framed under the said section.
The Court was hearing an Appeal filed against a judgment passed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court, challenging the sentence imposed in the facts and circumstances of a case involving death of a 20 year old girl after being hit by a tanker which was being rashly and negligently driven.
The appellate Court had reversed the verdict of acquittal rendered by the Trial Court and convicted the accused awarding a sentence of imprisonment for six months and fine of Rs.1000. Later, the High Court set aside the sentence of imprisonment, substituting it with a fine of Rs. 40,000/- in default of which sentence awarded by the trial Court was to revive.
The State had submitted that the amount of Rs.40, 000/- cannot be held to be adequate compensation when life of a young girl aged 20 years was lost.
The accused however contended before the Supreme Court that he was a poor man and could not pay more amount as compensation. He also submitted that it was a case of driving in a difficult terrain where different parameters ought to be applied for determining negligence.
The Court hence extended the compensation to be paid by the accused to Rs. 1 lakh and ordered an amount of Rs. 3 lakh to be paid by the State. It ordered that in case the respondent fails to pay any part of the compensation that part of compensation will also be paid by the State so that the heirs of the victim get total sum of Rs. 4 lakhs towards compensation.
Read the judgment here.