Benson George vs Reliance General Insurance Co. … on 25 February, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

Benson George vs Reliance General Insurance Co. … on 25 February, 2022

Author: M.R. Shah

Bench: M.R. Shah, B.V. Nagarathna

                                                                       REPORTABLE


                                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                     CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                      CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1540 OF 2022




                         Sri. Benson George                          .. Appellant(s)


                                                   Versus


                         Reliance General Insurance Co.Ltd.& Anr.    ..Respondent(s)




                                              JUDGMENT

M. R. Shah, J.

1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

judgment and order dated 28.09.2020 passed by the High

Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru in M.F.A. No.3183 of 2018

(MV), the original claimant has preferred the present appeal
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by R
Natarajan
Date: 2022.02.25
16:25:53 IST
Reason:

with the prayer to enhance the amount of compensation.

1

2. In a vehicular accident which occurred on 01.01.2013

the claimant sustained grievous brain injuries. He underwent

brain surgery. Though he was discharged from the Hospital,

he remained in coma even till the claim petition was filed. At

the relevant time the claimant was working as a Process

Supervisor in Deutsche Bank and earning Rs.4,59,425/­ per

annum. That at the time of accident he was aged 29 years.

That the claimant through his next friend i.e. his mother filed

a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

That the Learned Tribunal awarded Rs.94,37,300/­ on the

different heads as under:

 1.    Pain and sufferings                   Rs.1,30,000­00
 2.    Loss of income during laid up         Rs.1,36,000­00
       period

 3.    Medical expenses                      Rs.9,91,869­00
 4.    Loss of future income due to         Rs.69,48,631­00
       permanent disability

 5.    Loss of future amenities and          Rs.1,00,000­00
       happiness

 6.    Attendant charges                     Rs.9,20,800­00
 7.    Extra   nutritious  food     and      Rs.1,60,000­00
       conveyance expenses


                               2
 8.    Future medical expenses                   Rs.50,000­00
                    Total                     Rs.94,37,300­00



The learned Tribunal awarded interest at the rate of 9%

per annum from the date of petition till realization.

2.1 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and

award passed by the learned Tribunal awarding a total sum of

Rs.94,37,300/­ towards the compensation with 9% interest

both, the Insurance Company as well as the original claimant

preferred appeals before the High Court. By the impugned

common judgment and order, the High Court has party

allowed the appeal preferred by the claimant and has

enhanced the amount of compensation from 94,37,300/­ to

Rs.1,24,94,333/­ under different heads as under:

  1     Pain and suffering                      Rs. 2,00,000/­
  2     Medical expenses                        Rs. 9,91,869/­
  3     Loss of future income due to           Rs. 88,02,464/­
        permanent disability

  4     Loss of future amenities and            Rs. 1,00,000/­
        happiness

  5     Attendant charges                      Rs. 20,40,000/­

                                3
     6     Extra nutritious food      and       Rs. 1,60,000/­
           conveyance expenses

     7     Future medical expenses              Rs. 2,00,000/­
                       Total                 Rs.1,24, 94,333/­



The High Court has however, reduced the interest from

9% per annum as awarded by the learned Tribunal to the

interest at the rate of 6% per annum.

2.2 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

judgment and order passed by the High Court in not awarding

full claim as prayed for, the original claimant has preferred the

present appeal to enhance the amount of compensation.

3. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the claimant has

vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances of

the case the High Court has committed a grave error in

awarding Rs.2,00,000/­ only under the head pain and

suffering and Rs.1,00,000/­ only under the head of loss of

future amenities and happiness.

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3.1 It is vehemently submitted by learned counsel appearing

on behalf of the claimant that in the accident the claimant

sustained grievous brain injuries. He was hospitalized from

01.01.2013 to 15.03.2013 in St. John’s Hospital and from

16.03.2013 to 03.05.2013 in Brain & Spine Centre. He has

undergone three major brain operations. It is submitted that

thereafter all throughout he is in coma and is bedridden. It is

submitted therefore that in the facts and circumstances of the

case, the High Court has erred in awarding Rs.2,00,000/­ only

under the head pain and suffering. Therefore, it is prayed to

enhance the amount of compensation under the head pain

and suffering suitably, considering the period of

hospitalization, the grievous brain injuries sustained by the

claimant and that he underwent multiple operations.

3.2 It is further submitted by learned counsel appearing for

the claimant that in the vehicular accident the claimant has

suffered 100% disability and is completely bedridden. It is

submitted that with this disability he will have to live a

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miserable life till his death. He will not be in a position to

enjoy life and therefore the High Court has committed a grave

error in awarding Rs.1,00,000/­ only towards loss of amenities

and happiness. It is submitted that the High Court has

committed a grave error in reducing the amount of interest

from 9% per annum to 6% per annum.

Making the above submissions it is prayed to allow the

present appeal and to enhance the amount of compensation

accordingly.

4. Present appeal is vehemently opposed by Ms. Prerna

Mehta learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Insurance

Company.

4.1 Relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of Raj

Kumar vs. Ajay Kumar and Anr., (2011) 1 SCC 343, it is

submitted that as held by this Court, when compensation is

awarded by treating the loss of future earning capacity as

100% the need to award compensation separately under the

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head of loss of amenities or loss of expectation of life may

disappear and as a result, only a token or nominal amount

may have to be awarded under the head of loss of amenities or

loss of expectation of life, as otherwise there may be a

duplication in the award of compensation.

4.2 It is submitted that therefore in the facts and

circumstances of the case no error has been committed by the

High Court in awarding Rs.1,00,000/­ towards loss of

amenities and happiness.

4.3 It is further submitted by learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the Insurance Company that decision of this Court in

the case of Raj Kumar (supra) has been subsequently

considered and followed by this Court in the case of Lalan D.

alias Lal and Anr. vs. Oriental Insurance Company Limited,

(2020) 9 SCC 805.

7
4.4 It is also contended by learned counsel for the Insurance

Company that in the facts and circumstances of the case the

High Court has not committed any error in reducing the

interest from 9% per annum to 6% per annum.

5. We have learned counsel for the respective parties at

length.

6. It is not in dispute and it has come on record that in a

vehicular accident the claimant sustained grievous brain

injuries. That he was hospitalized for a number of months.

That he undergone MRI, CT scans and X­rays. That he

sustained right temporal SDH, multiple hemorrhagic

contusions on temporal lobe, left parieto­occipital lobe, left

parietal lobe and bilateral frontal lobe, hemorrhagic

contusions left thalamic region s/o grade II diffuse axonal

injury, moderate SAH in right sylvian cistern, moderate diffuse

cerebral edema, multiple comminuted and variably depressed

fracture in left squamous temporal and left parietal bone,

8
bilateral occipital bone fracture, right sub­occipital SDH.

Finally diagnosed that traumatic brain injury sequelae­s/p

frontotemporoparietal hemicraniectomy and right lower limb

deep vein thrombosis.

That the claimant underwent multiple surgeries. Left

fronto­ temporoparietal decompressive hemicraniectomy with

lax duroplasty done on 02.01.2013. He underwent

Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrotomy under GA. Since the

petitioner sustained very severe injuries to the Brain, he was

shifted to the Brain & Spine Centre, Chemmanakary, Kerala,

where he was admitted from 16.03.2013 to 03.05.2013. He

underwent right side VP shunting (Chabra medium pressure

regular) on 25.03.2013 under GA. That the claimant is still in

coma and totally bedridden.

7. Considering the prolonged hospitalization and medical

treatment and that the claimant underwent multiple surgeries,

we are of the opinion that the High Court has erred in

awarding Rs.2,00,000/­ only under the head pain and

9
suffering. The pain, suffering and trauma suffered by the

claimant cannot be compensated in terms of the money.

However, still it will be a solace to award suitable

compensation under different heads including the pain, shock

and suffering, loss of amenities and happiness of life.

7.1 In the facts and circumstances of the case due to the

prolonged hospitalization and the multiple brain

injuries/injuries sustained by the claimant and that he is still

in coma and is bedridden, we are of the opinion that if the

amount of compensation under the head of pain, shock and

suffering is enhanced to Rs.10,00,000/­ (Rupees Ten Lakhs),

it can be said to be a reasonable amount under the head pain,

shock and suffering.

7.2 Similarly, the amount of Rs.1,00,000/­ awarded by the

High Court under the head loss of amenities and happiness

can also be said to be on lower side. As observed hereinabove

no amount can compensate the loss of amenities and

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happiness more particularly a person who is in coma since

number of years and is bedridden for the entire life.

In the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the

opinion that if the amount of compensation under the head

loss of amenities and happiness is enhanced to

Rs.10,00,000/­ (Rupees Ten Lakhs) from that of Rs.1,00,000/­

as awarded by the High Court, it can be said to be a

reasonable amount under the head loss of amenities and

happiness.

8. Now with regard to reliance placed upon the decisions of

this Court in the case of Raj Kumar (supra) and Lalan D.

alias Lal (supra), relied upon by learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the Insurance Company is concerned, we are of the

opinion that the amount of compensation to be awarded under

the heads, pain and suffering and loss of amenities and

happiness, there cannot be straight jacket formula. It

depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case and it

varies from person to person who has suffered due to the

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accident. So far as awarding compensation on the head of

pain, shock and suffering is concerned, multiple factors are

required to be considered namely, prolonged hospitalization;

the grievous injuries sustained; the operations underwent and

the consequent pain, discomfort and suffering.

8.1 Similarly, loss of amenities and happiness suffered by the

claimant and his family members also depend upon various

factors, including the position of the claimant post­accident

and whether, he is in a position to enjoy life and/or happiness

which he was enjoying prior to the accident. To what extent

the claimant has lost the amenities in life and the happiness

will depend on the facts of each case.

Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the present

case when the claimant is in coma even after a period of eight

long years and that he will have to be permanently bedridden

during his entire life, as observed above the amount of

compensation awarded under the head loss of amenities and

happiness of Rs.1,00,000/­ only is unreasonable and meagre.

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8.2 Now so far as the impugned judgment and order passed

by the High Court reducing the amount of interest from 9% to

6% per annum is concerned, in the peculiar facts and

circumstances of the case, the same is not required to be

interfered with by this Court in exercise of powers under

Article 136 of the Constitution of India.

9. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the

present appeal is allowed in part. The impugned judgment

and order passed by the High Court is modified to the extent

and it is held that the original claimant shall be entitled to a

total sum of Rs.1,41,94,333/­ with interest at the rate of 6%

per annum from the date of filing the claim petition till

realization. The enhanced amount of compensation shall be

deposited by the respondent – Insurance Company before the

learned Tribunal within a period of four weeks from today,

failing which, it shall carry interest at the rate of 7.5% per

annum. On such deposit, the learned Tribunal is hereby

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directed to ensure that the amount of compensation is

invested in long term interest bearing deposits in different

Nationalized Banks or Post Office so that the amount of

compensation can be used for the claimant and the same is

not flittered away.

Present appeal is accordingly partly allowed to the

aforesaid extent. In the facts and circumstances of the case,

there shall be no order as to costs.

………………………………….J.

                                    [M.R. SHAH]



NEW DELHI;                          ….…………………………….J.
FEBRUARY 25, 2022.                  [B.V. NAGARATHNA]




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