Disapproving a High Court judgment which reduced the percentage of functional disability of a man who had to amputate lower limb due to an accident, the Supreme Court observed that compensation for loss of future earning should not be elusive.
"Compensation for loss of future earning therefore has to be proper and just to enable him to live a life of dignity and not compensation which is elusive", observed a bench comprising Justices R F Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR Gavai in the case Sri Anthony alias Anthony Swamy vs The Managing Director, KSRTC.
In 2010, the KSRTC bus in which the appellant was travelling hit behind a lorry due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver. This led to the amputation of his left lower limb. The physical disability was assessed as 75%. Though the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal awarded compensation by adopting this disability percentage, the High Court of Kerala, in appeal, reduced it to 25% of the whole body.
The SC noted that this reduction has been made "without any reasoning". The SC noted that the earning capacity of the appellant, who was a painter, stood "completely negated" and not just reduced.
He has been rendered permanently incapable of working as a painter or do any manual work, said the SC
The SC observed :
"PW.3 had assessed the physical functional disability of the left leg of the appellant at 75% and total body disability at 37.5%. The High Court has considered it proper to assess the physical disability at 25% of the whole body only. There is no discussion for this reduction in percentage, much less any consideration of the nature of permanent functional disability suffered by the appellant. The extent of physical functional disability, in the facts of the case has to be considered in a manner so as to grant just and proper compensation to the appellant towards loss of future earning. The earning capacity of the appellant as on the date of the accident stands completely negated and not reduced. He has been rendered permanently incapable of working as a painter or do any manual work. Compensation for loss of future earning therefore has to be proper and just to enable him to live a life of dignity and not compensation which is elusive. If the 75% physical disability has rendered the appellant permanently disabled from pursuing his normal vocation or any similar work, it is difficult to comprehend the grant of compensation to him in ratio to the disability to the whole body".
The SC also granted Rs 2,50,000/- over and above the Rs 50,000/- awarded by the HC for future medical expenses. The compensation for loss of amenities was enhanced to Rs 50,000/-, considering the fact that the appellant was deprived of social mixing on account of his disability.
The SC re-assessed the compensation as Rs 11,97,350 as against the sum fixed by HC as Rs.5,10,350.
The bench referred to the precedents Raj Kumar vs. Ajay Kumar and another, 2011 (1) SCC 343 and Nagarajappa vs. Divisional Manager, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, 2011 (13) SCC 323.
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