25 Jan 2022 1:41 PM GMT
Coming to the aid of a 14-year old (at the time) who suffered permanent disability to his pelvic region in an accident, the Karnataka High Court recently modified the order of the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal, awarding compensation of Rs 50,000 under the head loss of amenities and enjoyment in life and increased it to Rs 10 lakhs. A division bench of Justice S.G. Pandit and...
Coming to the aid of a 14-year old (at the time) who suffered permanent disability to his pelvic region in an accident, the Karnataka High Court recently modified the order of the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal, awarding compensation of Rs 50,000 under the head loss of amenities and enjoyment in life and increased it to Rs 10 lakhs.
A division bench of Justice S.G. Pandit and Justice Anant Ramanath Hegde said, "Since the marriage prospect of the claimant is wiped out, the claimant is deprived of all the pleasure and benefits of married life. The mental trauma of having to remain single, and answering the curious questions posed by the people around throughout life, for not getting married, are some of the things not easy to cope with. The trauma is going to be perennial and unabated."
It added, "Such being the position, the duty is cast upon the Tribunals and Courts to award just compensation to ensure that the unbearable mental trauma is mitigated to the extent possible and the claimant can live with some dignity and find some solace in the monetary compensation awarded."
Noting that the compensation awarded by it is higher than what is claimed by the petitioner, the bench said,
"The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is benevolent legislation. The duty is cast upon the Tribunal to award just and fair compensation to the victim of a Motor Vehicle accident. Though the claim made in the petition is less than what the Tribunal or Court finds as just and fair compensation, the power of the Tribunal or the Court to award just and fair compensation to the victim is not taken away because of prayer for a lesser amount."
Further it said, "The compensation to be awarded by the Tribunal is not bogged down by the figure mentioned in the prayer column of the claim petition." It added, "If relief is not moulded by awarding higher compensation, we will be failing in our duty."
Appellant Basavaraj who on September 18, 2011 was 14-years old was walking on the road along with his father. The lorry came from behind and dashed against the petitioner. The petitioner sustained grievous injuries. He underwent two surgeries and was inpatient for 13 days.
It was claimed by the petitioner that he was a student and was also working as a supplier in a hotel. He has suffered a fracture of pubic rami, ruptured urethra, pelvic fracture and fracture of inferior ramus of the right hip bone resulting in permanent disability. He approached the court seeking enhancement in compensation amount awarded by the Tribunal vide order dated August 4, 2016.
Relying on the doctors certificate it was urged that given the fact that the claimant has suffered permanent disability, the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is on the lower side. Further, it was said the marriage prospect of the petitioner is severely jeopardized and he cannot marry and have a family. The disability sustained by the petitioner, being a permanent disability, award of compensation of Rs.50,000 for loss of amenities is extremely conservative and the compensation requires to be enhanced substantially on the head of loss of amenities and enjoyment of life.
Similarly, given the nature of injuries sustained by the claimant and the kind of trauma undergone by the claimant, compensation of Rs.50,000/ awarded under the head of pain and suffering is also grossly inadequate. A compensation of Rs.11,75,000 was sought.
The insurance company opposed the appeal and claimed the compensation amount awarded by the tribunal is just and fair.
At the outset the bench observed, "The task of adjudicating the quantum of compensation payable under the non-pecuniary heads like pain and suffering, loss of amenities in life and loss of expectation of life, is not easy though appears to be easy. The task gets a bit more difficult if the claimant suffers a permanent disability at a young age."
Then the court examined the medical certificate issued by the doctor which stated that petitioner has suffered a pelvic fracture, urethral fracture and has undergone urethroplasty. He is unable to achieve a penile erection and nocturnal penile tumescence. The certificate further revealed that the petitioner is unable to copulate in the future.
Following which the court observed, "The doctor has opined that the situation is irreversible. There is no marriage prospect for the petitioner. The loss of the petitioner, who is deprived of marriage prospects and pleasure of marital life and having children, cannot be adequately compensated in terms of money."
It added, "Given the kind of disability suffered by the claimant, the mental trauma which the claimant has to undergo for the rest of his life, is much more painful than the physical pain that he has suffered immediately after the accident."
The court then observed, "The petitioner who is aged 14 years has suffered an injury to his sexual organ causing permanent disability Under the circumstance, the award of Rs.50,000 on the head of loss of amenities and enjoyment of life is extremely conservative, to say the least. Award of Rs.54,000 under the head loss of future earning capacity and award of Rs.50,000 under the head loss of amenities and enjoyment of life are not in sync with the settled principles governing compensation. In fact, the award under these two heads cannot be termed as compensation at all."
The court then opined that compensation payable under the non-pecuniary heads is not dependent on the social status, educational qualification or income of the claimant. It affects the poor and the rich alike. Taking note of the fact that the petitioner hails from an impoverished background.
The court held, "Since the award is going to be passed in respect of loss of amenities and enjoyment in life, by taking into consideration the inflation and constantly depreciating purchasing power of the rupee, this court deems it appropriate and award Rs.10,00,000 on this head."
Accordingly the court said, "The judgement and award dated 04.08.2016 passed in MVC No.49/2012 on the file of the Principal Senior Civil Judge and AMACT, Ranebennur is modified and compensation of Rs.17,68,000.00 is awarded along with interest at the rate of 6%."
Case Title: Basavaraj v. Umesh
Case No: M.F.A. No.103473/2017
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 29
Date of Order: 11th Day Of January 2022
Appearance: Advocate Hanumanthareddy Sahukar for appellant; Advocate Suresh S Gundi for R2.
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment