Motor Accident Claims: Salary Certificate Not The Only Basis For Assessing Income Of the Deceased For Calculating Compensation [Read Judgment]
‘There is nothing in the law which requires the Tribunal to assess the income of the deceased only on the basis of a salary certificate for arriving at a just and fair compensation to be paid to the claimants for the loss of life.’
The Supreme Court in United India Insurance Co Ltd v Indiro Devi has held that salary certificate need not be the only basis to assess income of the deceased for arriving at a just and fair compensation to be paid to the claimants for the loss of life.
A bench of Justice SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao upheld a Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment that had taken the income of the deceased as found in the income tax assessment and increased the compensation awarded by the tribunal.
Before the tribunal, the claimants had produced salary certificate as well as the income tax assessment. The tribunal held that the claimants had not led any evidence to explain the contradictions between the two figures of income emerging from the evidence of the employer of the deceased and the income tax record, and passed the award relying on the salary certificate issued by the employer of the deceased.
Contending that the high court ought not to have increased the compensation and should have relied upon the salary certificate for the calculation of the compensation, the insurance company approached the apex court.
The bench observed: “We have given our anxious consideration to this contention. There is no doubt that if the salary certificate is taken into account, the salary of the deceased should be taken as Rs. 1,06,176/- since the gross salary was Rs. 8848 per month. That, however, in our view does not mean that the income of the deceased as stated in the Income Tax return should be totally ignored. It is not possible to agree with the observation of the Tribunal that it was necessary for the claimants to “explain the said contradiction” between two figures of income.”
Dismissing the SLP, the bench said: “The claimants had led reliable evidence that the deceased had returned an income of Rs. 2,42,606/- for the assessment year 2004-05. This piece of evidence has not been discredited. Indeed, it was possible that the deceased had income from other sources also. There is nothing in the law which requires the Tribunal to assess the income of the deceased only on the basis of a salary certificate for arriving at a just and fair compensation to be paid to the claimants for the loss of life.”Read the Judgment Here