Law values life and limb in generous scales, says Bench
The Supreme Court has asked the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals and High Courts to be liberal and award “just compensation” to claimants in motor accident claim cases.
A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and M.Y. Eqbal said, “It is true that determination of just compensation cannot be equated to a bonanza. On the other hand, the concept of just compensation suggests application of fair and equitable principles and a reasonable approach on the part of the tribunals and the courts.”
The Bench said that the determination of quantum in motor accidents cases must be liberal “since the law values life and limb in free country in generous scales.”
Writing the judgment on Tuesday, Justice Sathasivam said: “The adjudicating authority, while determining the quantum of compensation has to take note of the sufferings of the injured person which would include his inability to lead a full life, his incapacity to enjoy the normal amenities which he would have enjoyed but for the injuries and his ability to earn as much as he used to earn or could have earned. While computing compensation, the approach of the tribunal or a court has to be broad based and sometimes it would involve some guesswork as there cannot be any precise formula to determine the quantum of compensation.”
In the instant case, appellant S. Manickam sustained injuries while alighting from a bus due to the negligence of the driver, resulting in amputation of his right leg in January 1997. He claimed a compensation of Rs. 21 lakh but the Tribunal directed the Metropolitan Transport Corporation to pay a compensation of Rs. 9, 42,822. On an appeal by the Corporation, the Madras High Court reduced the award to Rs. 6,72,822. The present appeal is directed against this judgment.
Allowing the appeal in part, the Bench said: “altogether the appellant is entitled to a total compensation of Rs. 8, 52,822 with interest at the rate of 9 per cent from the date of claim petition till the date of deposit.”