United India Insurance Company Ltd. filed a Special Leave Petition contesting the judgment given by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana increasing the compensation awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

Hon’ble Supreme Court while upholding the ratio decidendi of the High Court judgement held that, “There is nothing in the law which requires the Tribunal to assess the income of the deceased only on the basis of a salary certificate for arriving at a just and fair compensation to be paid to the claimants for the loss of life.”

Brief factual matrix of the case United India Insurance Company Limited v. Indiro Devi and Ors. is that the deceased claimant lost his life due to rash and negligent driving of a Canter Truck and hence his dependents filed for compensation before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. The Tribunal ordered a compensation taking into consideration the salary certificate of the claimant which was Rs.8848/- (Rupees Eight Thousand Eight Hundred Forty-Eight only), ignoring the evidence produced regarding the Income Tax returns filed by the claimant which is greater than the gross income depicted by the salary certificate. Aggrieved by the Insurance Company and the claimants filed appeal and revision petitions respectively before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. Hon’ble High Court took into consideration the income tax returns filed by the claimant and increased the compensation to be granted.

The two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Hon’ble Justice S. A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao while dismissing the Special Leave Petition filed by the Insurance Company and upholding the judgement of Hon’ble High Court opined that “. . . it was possible that the deceased had income from other sources too. . .” therefore, salary certificate is not the only basis on which the compensation will be decided.

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