A three judge bench of the Supreme Court has held that, in the case of a motor accident where there is death of a person, who is a bachelor, it is the age of the deceased which should be taken into account for calculating the multiplier, not that of dependents.
The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar was considering a submission in an appeal against High Court judgment (Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Ltd vs. Mandala Yadagari Goud) that it is the age of the dependents which has to be taken into account and thus the High Court has fallen into an error by taking the multiplier on the basis of the age of the deceased.
The bench noted that there is already a three Judge Bench judgment in Sube Singh vs. Shaym Singh which opined that it is the age of the deceased which should be the basis of the multiplier. The counsel for Insurer also cited some two Judge Bench judgments which have taken a contra view that the age of the dependents is what has to be the basis for multiplier and not the age of the deceased in the case of death of a bachelor. The court said:
"The focus for determination of such claim is the deceased and what would be his contribution towards the dependents would he to be alive, for the benefits of the dependents. It is trite to say, and in fact conceded by the learned counsel for the insurance company, that in case the deceased is a married person, it is the age of the deceased which is to be taken into account. The question is whether in case the deceased is a bachelor, a different principle for calculation of the multiplier should be applied by shifting the focus to the age of the claimants? We are of the view that the answer to this question should be in the negative."
The bench referred to the judgment in Sube Singh and observed that the said judgment has taken into account yet another three judge bench judgment and also a judgment delivered by the Constitution bench (Sarla Verma). It said:
"We are convinced that there is no need to once again take up this issue settled by the aforesaid judgments of three Judge Bench and also relying upon the Constitution Bench that it is the age of the deceased which has to be taken into account and not the age of the dependents."