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Process Of Determination Of Motor Accident Compensation Cannot Be By A Continuing Mandamus, It Must Take Place At One Go: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
17 Aug 2021 2:19 PM GMT
Process Of Determination Of Motor Accident Compensation Cannot Be By A Continuing Mandamus, It Must Take Place At One Go: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that while determining compensation under the Motor Vehicle Act, a court cannot direct the continued maintenance by Insurance Company of a prosthetic limb for the injured claimant.The process of determination of such compensation cannot be by a continuing mandamus, in a colloquial sense, and the determination must take place at one go, the bench of Justices...

The Supreme Court observed that while determining compensation under the Motor Vehicle Act, a court cannot direct the continued maintenance by Insurance Company of a prosthetic limb for the injured claimant.

The process of determination of such compensation cannot be by a continuing mandamus, in a colloquial sense, and the determination must take place at one go, the bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed.

In this case, while allowing an appeal filed by a claimant, the High Court directed that he shall be supplied a prosthetic limb of good quality and with a lifetime warranty. It was further directed that if any, repair or replacement has to be done, the same should be done by the Insurance Company and that it should inquire from the victim at least twice a year as to the working condition of the prosthetic limb with an email address and telephone number specified.

Insurance company filed appeal before the Apex Court contending that these directions amount to a continuing maintenance of the prosthetic limb to be monitored by it. Relying on Nagappa v. Gurudayal Singh & Others, (2003) 2 SCC 274 and Sapna V. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. (2008) 7 SCC 613 it was contended that while determining compensation under the said Act there is no provision providing for passing of a further award once the final award is passed. The future eventualities are to be taken into consideration at that time, it was argued.

"In our view, the process of determination of such compensation cannot be by a continuing mandamus, in a colloquial sense, and the determination must take place at one go. The aforesaid principle is not even disagreed to or contested by the respondents but what is submitted is that there must be a provision made fixing a lump sum amount for maintenance/ replacement of the prosthetic limb, if necessary. We agree with the submission and in a larger canvas consider it appropriate to direct that in such kind of cases of providing facility of prosthetic limb, appropriate amount may be quantified towards such maintenance.", the bench observed.

The bench thus set aside these directions and observed that the same shall be substituted by the determination for amount required for maintenance/replacement of the prosthetic limb while a quantification of the amount for compensation is being made.

The court directed the claimant to file an affidavit setting forth the cost of the prosthetic limb purchased by him along with supporting documents of the company from which he purchased the prosthetic limb, to show what kind of maintenance/replacement would be required.

In a another case, the High Court had directed that assistance of two semi-skilled workers on the basis of minimum wages is to be provided to the claimant from the date of the accident for the rest of the his life. It was also directed that sum of Rs.60 Lakhs is required to be kept by the Insurance Company in an interest bearing deposit, from which about Rs.50,000/- per month would be generated as interest to meet the expenses of the assistants.  "It may not be strictly in the nature of a continuing direction; but premised on the basis of a continuing requirement, a lump sum amount has been directed to be deposited the returns from which are to be utilised. We are of the view that this is not the appropriate course to follow.", the court observed while allowing the appeal filed by insurance company.

The court also noticed that the High Court had also directed the GNCTD to examine whether there could be a Government policy in regard to assistance to be provided to permanently disabled adolescents whose parents are not economically well off. 

"We also find that while seeking to examine the larger issues, the learned judge has ventured into the aspect of Government policy to be framed in that behalf. This really amounts to beyond the jurisdiction over determination of the amount, in the Motor Accident Claim proceeding, but on a larger canvas taking the colour of a Public Interest Litigation. We, thus, consider it appropriate that this aspect ought to be examined by the Bench dealing with the Public Interest Litigation, as a larger canvas would have to be determined rather than something restricted to the case of the respondent before us.", the court said.




Case: HDFC ERGO General Insurance Co. Ltd. vs. Mukesh Kumar; CA 4576/2021
Citation: LL 2021 SC 385
Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy



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