The Supreme Court has held that in motor accident claim cases, the Tribunal would be fully justified in awarding compensation to the victim not only for ‘loss of earning' but also for ‘permanent disability.'

Giving this ruling a Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan said: “The incapacity or disability to earn a livelihood would have to be viewed not only inpraesentibut infuturoon reasonable expectancies and taking into account deprival of earnings of a conceivable period. This head being totally different cannot in our view overlap the grant of compensation under the head of pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. One head relates to the impairment of person's capacity to earn, the other relates to the pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life by the person himself.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said: “It cannot be construed that compensation cannot be granted for permanent disability of any nature. For example, take the case of a non-earning member of a family who has been injured in an accident and sustained permanent disability due to amputation of leg or hand.

"It cannot be construed that no amount needs to be granted for permanent disability. It cannot be disputed that apart from the fact that the permanent disability affects the earning capacity of the person concerned, undoubtedly, one has to forego other personal comforts and even for normal avocation they have to depend on others.”

In the instant case, the appellant, B. Kothandapani suffered grievous injuries in a motor vehicle accident involving the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation Ltd. vehicle. The Tribunal awarded Rs. 5,05,053 as compensation, including Rs. 1.50 lakh towards permanent disability.

On appeal from the Corporation, the Madras High Court reduced the compensation to Rs. 4,05,053, viz Rs.one lakh was reduced towards permanent disability.

The only question in the appeal preferred by Mr. Kothandapani in the Supreme Court was whether he was entitled to compensation both for loss of earning and permanent disability.

Allowing the appeal, the Bench said: “Two doctors had explained the nature of injuries, treatment received and the disability suffered by the appellant due to partial loss of eye-sight and amputation of middle finger in the right hand.”

At the time of accident, he was working as foreman in a company. “Taking note of his nature of work, partial loss in eye sight and loss of the middle finger of the right hand not only affects his earning capacity, but also affects normal avocation and day-to-day work. In such circumstances, we are of the view that the Tribunal was fully justified in granting a sum of Rs.1,50,000 towards permanent disability,” the Bench said.

Holding that the High Court was not justified in reducing the award, the Bench directed the Corporation to pay the appellant Rs. 5,05,053 with interest as awarded by the Tribunal.

“If the said amount has not been deposited so far, the Corporation is directed to deposit the same in the Tribunal within two months and if any amount had already been deposited/paid to the claimant, the same shall be adjusted.”