The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Deepak Gupta recently considered a case pertaining to the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and noted that it is the duty of the court to ensure that victims of motor vehicle accidents are awarded just compensation.
While enhancing the compensation awarded to a young girl who had become 100% disabled due to an accident, the Hon’ble Court in Kajal v. Jagdish Chand & ors. referred to various other judgements. They observed that it is the duty of the Court to make a judicious attempt to award damages in order to compensate the claimant for the loss suffered by the victim. It is also crucial to ensure that the awarded compensation is balanced such that it is neither assessed in a manner that is extremely conservative, nor one that is too liberal. It should be in reference to the amount of loss caused to the victim. It should also be substantial enough such that it compensates the victim for the deprivation suffered by the him or her throughout their life. A compensation that is decided based on these grounds is a compensation that can be termed as just.
The bench also observed that while awarding attendant charges, the multiplier method should be followed for determining the compensation for loss of income as well as for attendant charges. This system was recognized by this court in the matter of Gobald Motor Service Ltd. v. R. M. K. Veluswami. And on the question of granting interest, the court held that usually interest is granted from the date of filing of the petition. And if in appeal, the compensation awarded is increased, the interest for that is again calculated from the date of filing of the appeal. And when interest is not awarded from the date of filing of the petition, then the High Court or Tribunal has to provide a satisfactory reason for the same.
Particularly in the present case, the court held that it was of paramount importance to remember that the victim was a minor girl severely suffering from incontinence, which in some words means that she does not have control over her basic bodily functions. Therefore, she would require an attendant 24 hours a day to assist her with the most fundamental of activities.
In light of all the facts discussed and arguments contended, the court finally awarded the victim a compensation of Rs. 62,27,000.
The court noted that while dealing with cases where the victim has suffered 100% disability including mental disability, all the courts should take a liberal view, keeping the fact in mind that such a claim for compensation can be awarded only once.
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Link to Judgment: Kajal v. Jagdish Chand & ors.