Abhimanyu Partap Singh vs Namita Sekhon on 6 July, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

Abhimanyu Partap Singh vs Namita Sekhon on 6 July, 2022

Author: Hon’Ble Ms. Banerjee

Bench: Hon’Ble Ms. Banerjee, J.K. Maheshwari

                                                                       REPORTABLE

                                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                     CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                    CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4648 OF 2022
                             (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.18886 OF 2019)

          ABHIMANYU PARTAP SINGH                                   ….APPELLANT(S)

                                                VERSUS

          NAMITA SEKHON & ANOTHER                                  ….RESPONDENT(S)


                                            JUDGMENT

J.K. Maheshwari, J.

Leave granted.

2. The instant appeal arises out of the judgment dated

21.05.2019 passed by the Single Judge of the High Court of

Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in First Appeal Order

No.4829 of 2002 preferred by the claimant/appellant

(hereinafter to be referred to as “claimant”), whereby the said

appeal was partly allowed and the compensation granted to the

tune of Rs.9,00,000/­ by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal,

Chandigarh (hereinafter to be referred to as “MACT”) in MACT
Signature Not Verified

Case No. 29 of 1997 was enhanced to Rs. 23,20,000/­.
Digitally signed by
Rachna
Date: 2022.07.06
16:48:33 IST
Reason:

3. The claimant filed a Claim Petition under Section 166 of the

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Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (in short “M.V. Act”) asking

compensation to the tune of Rs. 200,000,00/­ (two crores only)

in various heads on account of permanent disability caused to

him arising out of a road accident occurred on 10.11.1996, for

which FIR was lodged on 11.11.1996. At the time of accident,

claimant was five and half years of age and a student of UKG,

suffered multiple injuries like cerebral edema/brain edema,

fracture right part of temporal bone, spinal cord, lower limbs,

due to which he was having loss of speech, convulsions, injuries

on face. The lower limb of claimant was completely paralysed

resulted into 100% disability, his hope to live blissful life was

lost due to those injuries. It is said his father was a professor

and mother was an IAS officer, the claimant was having desire to

become Executive/IAS officer because of his background. On

account of head injuries including the fracture in temporal bone,

the development and capacity of the brain was not comparable

to a common man. Due to injuries in lower limbs, he lost the

senses for calls of nature and needs all time attendants for his

daily routine work. He cannot move without wheel chair or

motorized vehicle, thus his future is in complete jeopardy.

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4. The MACT while deciding the claim petition recorded the

finding of joint and several liability and the claimant has

suffered 100% disability. The Tribunal calculated the

compensation applying the multiplier of 16 and awarded

Rs.1,92,000/­ in the head of attendant charges @ Rs.1,000/­

per month, for physiotherapy Rs.2,88,000/­ @ Rs.50 per day,

Rs.15,000/­ has been awarded in transportation charges, and

Rs.5,000/­ for use of diapers in future. The Tribunal granted

Rs.4,00,000/­ in the head of loss of expectations of life, loss of

marital bliss, loss of enjoyment and amenities of life, permanent

disability, pain and sufferings, thus awarded total sum of

Rs.9,00,000/­ with interest @ 9% per annum from the date of

filing of the claim petition till the date of payment.

5. The adequacy of the grant of compensation was assailed by

the claimant by filing an appeal before the High Court which was

allowed in part vide order dated 21.05.2019. The Court awarded

Rs.1,00,000/­ for the motorized wheel chair. The future loss of

earning is awarded to the tune of Rs.6,00,000/­ accepting the

loss of Rs.60,000/­ per annum for 10 years only. The attendant

charges as granted by the claims Tribunal is enhanced to the

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tune of Rs.7,08,000/­ @ Rs.3,500/­ per month only for 20 years.

In appeal, in the head of medicines, physiotherapy and diapers

the High Court awarded Rs.8,00,000/­ in lump sum enhancing

the amount as allowed by MACT. In the head of loss of amenities

of life, marital bliss Rs.3,00,000/­ was allowed and

Rs.1,00,000/­ for the special diet enhancing the total amount of

compensation to the tune of Rs.23,20,000/­. The High Court

further directed to pay interest on the enhanced amount @

7.25% p.a. from the date of filing of Claim Petition till its

payment.

6. By filing this appeal, the inadequacy of grant of

compensation by MACT and also by the High Court has been

questioned seeking enhancement applying the just and

reasonable theory, looking to the nature of permanent disability,

the profession which he is doing, in pecuniary as well as in non­

pecuniary heads. It is urged that the compensation granted by

the MACT and the High Court is unjust and unreasonable and

not commensurate to the nature of injuries, which caused 100%

permanent disability to the claimant. The enhancement has

also been prayed on various heads and on various grounds.

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7. The adequacy of the grant of compensation as allowed was

challenged in the head of future loss of earning suffered due to

permanent disability for the whole life. It is urged, the loss of

future earnings granted by the High Court @ Rs. 60,000/­ p.a.

for 10 years only but on account of the disability caused, the

earning of claimant shall affect him for whole life, that too

cannot be comparable to an advocate doing profession having

normal capacity. The attendant charges @ Rs.3,500/­ per month

granted by the High Court only for 20 years though the

appellant required attendant all the time, during lifetime. On

account of loss of senses, he is required to use diapers for whole

life. In the head of future treatment, medical expenses including

physiotherapy, the amount as awarded is inadequate. He is

required to purchase motorized wheel chair, time to time during

his life. In the head of pain and sufferings, loss of marital bliss,

loss of amenities of life, the agony which he shall face before the

society for whole life the adequate amount of compensation has

not been granted, however enhancement of compensation is

prayed. In support of the contentions, reliance has been placed

on the judgment of this Court in the case of Kajal vs. Jagdish

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Chand and others
­ (2020) 4 SCC 413.

8. The record indicates that despite service, none present for

the respondent No.1. Mr. Kailash Prashad Pandey, advocate is

representing respondent No. 2 – United India Insurance

Company Limited and filed the counter­affidavit, inter alia,

contending that both courts have rightly decided the case on the

basis of admitted facts and documentary evidence on record and

the concurrent findings are in favour of respondent No. 2. It is

said the judgment passed by a 3­Judge Bench of this Court in

Jagadish vs. Mohan and Others ­ (2018) 4 SCC 571 and the

case titled NIC Vs. Pranay Sethi and Others ­ (2017) 16 SCC

680 decided by the Constitutional Bench of this Court are

supporting the case of respondent No.2. It is further submitted

that High Court has rightly followed the law laid down by this

Court and there is no future scope for enhancement of

compensation.

9. After hearing learned counsel for the parties and looking to

the findings recorded by the MACT and High Court, it cannot be

doubted that the claimant has suffered 100% permanent

disability in a road accident and the liability is joint and several.

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For the purpose of understanding the nature of injuries and its

extent, the statement of PW1­Dr. Sunil Katoch, Consultant,

Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi is relevant. As per his

testimony, the claimant suffered the spinal injury at level C­7,

C­8 with complete bowel and bladder paralysis and is unable to

use his upper limbs (hands) with full strength. MRI suggests

extensive myelomalacia of spinal cord from C­7 to D­4 level, to

which optimize domiciliary care is required. Further, regular and

every year check­up is also required to him. Due to spinal

injury, he has suffered complete paralysis of both lower limbs

and partial involvement of hands along with bowel and bladder.

In consequence, he may suffer urinary complications throughout

his life to which adequate medical attention is required. He

cannot pursue a regular carrier having embarrassing situation.

The percentage of permanent disability is 100%. With the said

medical opinion and the findings, the issue of adequacy and to

grant the just and reasonable amount of compensation requires

consideration.

10. It is not out of place to state, by making the payment of

compensation for damages would not revive the claimant into

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his original position. The compensation towards wrongful act in

terms of money though cannot be decided by the Court but it

may be determined as per the recognized principles. In the said

context, some of the English judgments are relevant, which may

specify why the compensation be paid, what should be the basis

for determination and what may be the reason for awarding

such compensation, applying the uniform methodology for

determination of compensation, comparable to the injuries,

thereby a person can lead his life, though his physical frame

cannot be reversed.

11. In the case of Philipps vs. London & South Western

Railway Co. ­ (1879) LR 5 QBD 78, it was held that by making

a payment of compensation for the damages, the Court cannot

put back again the claimant into his original position. On the

date of determination of the compensation, he is being

compensated but he cannot sue again, therefore, the

compensation must be full and final while determining the same.

In Mediana, In re ­ 1900 AC 113 (HL), it is said that the

determination for an amount of compensation to the damages is

an extreme task. What may be adequate amount for a wrongful

8
act and can it be compensated by money, particularly towards

pain and suffering. By an arithmetical calculation, it cannot be

decided what may be the exact amount of money which would

represent the pain and suffering to a person, but as per

recognized principles, damages must be paid. In H. West & Son

Ltd. vs. Shephard ­ 1964 AC 326, it was held that payment of

compensation in terms of money may be awarded so that

something tangible may be procured to replace something else of

the like nature which has been destroyed or lost. But money

cannot renew a physical frame that has been battered and

shattered, however the courts must consider to award sums,

which may be a reasonable. Simultaneously, uniformity in the

general method of approach is also required. Thereby, possible

comparable injuries can be compensated by comparable awards.

Lord Denning, while speaking for the Court of Appeal in Ward

vs. James ­ (1966) 1 QB 273 has specified three basic

principles i.e. accessibility, uniformity and predictability to be

followed in the like cases.

12. In the perspective of Indian law, in the case of R.D.

Hattangadi vs. Pest Control (India) (P) Ltd. ­ (1995) 1 SCC

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551, this Court has specified that while determining the

compensation for physical injuries, the heads on which the

amount of compensation is to be determined, may be of two

types, one is of pecuniary damages and another is of non­

pecuniary damages. Pecuniary damages include the loss of

earning, medical attendance, transport charges and other

material loss. The non­pecuniary damages include the

expenses for mental and physical shock, pain and suffering

already suffered or likely to be suffered in the future, loss of

amenities of life, loss of expectation of life, inconvenience,

hardship, discomfort, disappointment, frustration and mental

stress in life which has been followed in the case of Raj Kumar

vs. Ajay Kumar and another ­ (2011) 1 SCC 343.

13. In the case of Kajal (supra), this Court in case of

permanent disability, to decide the just compensation, the

principles have been summarized, whereby the compensation

may be awarded in the heads of ‘loss of earning’, ‘medical

expenses, transportation, special diet, attendant charges’, ‘loss

or diminution to the pleasures of life by loss of a particular part

of the body’ and ‘loss of future earning capacity’, damages,

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pecuniary as well as non­pecuniary have to be assessed while it

is impossible to equate human sufferings and personal

deprivation with money. This Court said attendant charges @

Rs.2,500/­ p.m. awarded by the High Court is inadequate,

however enhanced to Rs. 5,000/­ with two attendants, total

Rs.10,000/­ p.m. for whole life and calculated the compensation

applying the multiplier of 18. The Court further said

compensation may also be awarded for non­pecuniary damages

including pain, suffering, loss of amenities, loss of marriage

prospects. Therefore, the compensation on account of injuries,

causing 100% disability, looking to the facts of the case at hand,

is required to be determined, applying the ratio of the said

judgment.

14. The High Court in the impugned order observed that the

claimant has now started practice as an advocate, therefore,

future loss of earning has been calculated only for 10 years,

applying the multiplier of 16, without looking to the facts that

claimant cannot perform the work of advocacy similar to the

other advocates by attending the cases in different Courts. The

attendant charges have been allowed only for 20 years with one

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attendant. In fact, not only for determination of future loss of

earning but for attendant charges also the multiplier method

should be followed. The multiplier method has been recognized

as most realistic and reasonable because it has been decided

looking to the age, inflation rate, uncertainty of life and other

realistic needs. Thus, for determination of just compensation to

ensure justice with the family of deceased or the injured as the

case may be the compensation can be determined applying said

method. Therefore, in our view the Tribunal while granting the

compensation of future loss as well as earning only for 10 years

and attendant charges only for 20 years was not justified. In

fact, the said amount should be determined applying the

multiplier method.

15. It is also relevant to observe that in the judgment of Sarla

Verma (Smt.) & Others vs. Delhi Transport Corporation and

Another ­ (2009) 6 SCC 121 and National Insurance

Company Limited vs. Pranay Sethi & Others ­ (2017) 16 SCC

680, while replacing the schedule of Motor Vehicle Act, it is not

made clear what multiplier would be applicable below the age of

15. In the case of Kajal (supra), the injured was 12 years of the

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age, however, the multiplier of 18 has been applied. Therefore,

taking guidance from the judgment of Kajal (supra), for

determination of the compensation in the present case, the

multiplier of 18 shall be applicable.

16. In view of the said legal position, the compensation can be

assessed in pecuniary heads i.e. the loss of future earning,

medical expenses including future medical expenses, attendant

charges and also in the head of transportation including future

transportation. In the non­pecuniary heads, the compensation

can be computed for the mental and physical pain and

sufferings present and in future, loss of amenities of life

including loss of marital bliss, loss of expectancy in life,

inconvenience, hardship, discomfort, disappointment,

frustration, mental agony in life etc.

17. On perusal of the record out of the pecuniary heads MACT

has not awarded any amount in future loss of earning even

having 100% permanent disability while the High Court granted

Rs.6,00,000/­ only for 10 years because the appellant is now

practicing as an advocate in the Court accepting his earning

Rs.60,000/­ per annum. From the pleadings and evidence

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brought, it is clear that the father of the appellant was a

Professor and the mother was an IAS officer. The claimant has

been nurtured and brought up in a status enjoyed by his

parents. He was planning to become an Executive or IAS officer.

On account of the injuries in temporal region and the permanent

disability suffered, he was unable to do his studies as expected

or planned. After sincere efforts he could have passed the LL. B

and started the advocate profession. A judicial notice can be

taken of the fact that for a proficient advocate the person must

be physically fit as he is required to move frequently to attend

the professional work reaching from one Court to other, and for

movements to complete other professional commitments.

Looking to the nature of injuries and the permanent disablement

which the claimant has suffered, i.e., lower limb is completely

paralyzed while his upper limb is partially paralyzed having

100% permanent disability resulting in bodily movements being

hampered. The capacity of the claimant being an advocate

cannot be equated with other practicing advocate having no

deformity in the same profession. The claimant is required to

make extraordinary efforts to attend the proceedings in the

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Court and to come up to the expectations of the client. The

disablement suffered to the claimant is for whole life and in the

said fact, in our considered view, the future loss of earning

calculated by the High Court only for 10 years is not justified. If

we accept the future loss of earning Rs.5,000/­ per month as

decided by the High Court which annually comes to Rs.60,000/­

and apply the multiplier of 18 as applicable looking to the age,

then the sum comes to Rs.10,80,000/­, in the said head.

18. In the head of medical expenses, the MACT or the High

Court has not awarded any compensation presumably because

the mother of the claimant who was minor at the time of

accident may have claimed the amount of medical expenses

being an IAS officer. But now the claimant has become major,

and looking to the nature of injuries, future medical expenses

that includes the attendant charges, use of diapers due to loss of

urination senses is required to be calculated including future

medical expenses. The Tribunal awarded Rs.1,92,000/­ in the

head of attendant charges @ 1,000/­ per month. While the High

Court proceeded on the premises that the rate of the attendant

charges is variable after every five years, however, the Court

15
calculated the amount @ Rs.2,000/­ thereafter @ Rs.4,000/­ per

month for a period of 20 years and accordingly determined

Rs.9,00,000/­ making enhancement of Rs.7,08,000/­ in the said

head. As discussed, if we apply the multiplier method and in

view of the judgment of Kajal (supra), we accept the rate of

attendant charges Rs.5000/­ per month for 12 hours, looking to

the nature of injuries and disability the claimant is required two

attendants at least within 24 hours then the expenses in the

head of attendant charges comes to Rs.10,000/­ per month. If

we apply the multiplier of 18, the amount comes to

Rs.21,60,000/­.

19. Similarly for medical expenses in the head of physiotherapy

required to the claimant, the Tribunal awarded Rs.2,88,000/­ @

Rs.50 per day. The High Court granted lumpsum amount of

Rs.8,00,000/­ including the expenses for diapers. In our

considered opinion, the said amount is not adequate. In these

days the physiotherapist would charge at least Rs.150/­ per day

to treat the patient for one hour which monthly comes to

Rs.4,500/­ and annually 54,000/­, applying the multiplier of 18,

the amount in the head of physiotherapy charges comes to

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Rs.9,72,000/­. For the purpose of use of diapers, regular

medical check­up and medical expenses if we further add

Rs.2,00,000/­ then in the head of future medical expenses the

amount comes to Rs.11,72,000/­.

20. Under the head of transportation, the MACT awarded only

Rs.15,000/­ for the visit Delhi to Chandigarh which is enhanced

by the High Court to the tune of Rs.50,000/­. The High Court

further awarded Rs.1,00,000/­ in the head of motorized wheel

chair. In our opinion, during the life span grant of amount for

motorized vehicle only for once is not just. Similarly, in the head

of transportation in future, therefore, we enhance the said

amount in lumpsum to Rs.2,50,000/­ in place of Rs.1,00,000/­

+ Rs.50,000/­ as awarded by the High Court.

21. Under the head “non­pecuniary damages”, the claimant has

faced the pain, suffering and trauma as a consequence of

injuries. It is to observe that to award compensation under the

head “pain, shock and suffering”, multiple factors are required to

be considered from the date of accident, which include the

prolonged hospitalization and regular medical assistance, nature

of the injuries sustained, the operations underwent and the

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consequent pain, discomfort and suffering. Simultaneously, he

has to suffer post­accident agony for whole life, including the

amenities of life, which he can enjoy as a normal man but

unable to do so on account of permanent disability. In the era of

competition, he can perform better as a normal man but is

unable to compete with others. Therefore, under the head “pain,

shock and suffering”, amount of compensation deserves to be

granted.

22. The MACT awarded Rs.4,00,000/­ in the head of loss of

expectation of life, loss of marital bliss, total loss of enjoyment of

life and amenities of life, permanent disability, pain and

sufferings while the High Court granted the same amount

bifurcating it in the head of loss of amenities in life and marital

bliss to Rs.3,00,000/­ while special diet Rs.1,00,000/­ making

the total Rs.4,00,000/­.

23. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and

nature of injuries in our considered opinion, the appellant is

entitled for a sum of Rs.4,00,000/­ in the head of loss of

amenities of life and marital bliss, pain and sufferings, loss of

enjoyment and loss of expectancy, Rs.1,00,000/­ as awarded by

18
the High Court is maintained in the head of special diet. Thus,

in the non­pecuniary heads, the compensation as determined

comes to Rs.5,00,000/­.

24. In view of the foregoing calculation, the amount determined

for payment of the compensation in pecuniary heads comes to

Rs.46,62,000/­ and in non­pecuniary heads the sum comes to

Rs.5,00,000/­. Thus, in our view, the total compensation comes

to Rs.51,62,000/­. If we deduct the amount of Rs.23,20,000/­

awarded by the High Court then the enhanced amount comes to

Rs.28,42,000/­.

25. Resultantly, this appeal is allowed in part to the extent

indicated hereinabove. The enhanced amount shall carry

interest @ 6.5% p.a. from the date of filing the claim petition till

its realization.

………………………….J.

[ INDIRA BANERJEE ]

……………………………J.

[ J.K. MAHESHWARI ]
NEW DELHI;

JULY 06, 2022.

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