Erudhaya Priya vs State Express Transport … on 27 July, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

Erudhaya Priya vs State Express Transport … on 27 July, 2020

Author: Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose

                                                                                Reportable

                                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                          CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                   CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 2811-2812 OF 2020
                               [Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.8495-8496 of 2018]



         ERUDHAYA PRIYA                                                    ……APPELLANT

                                                    VERSUS

         STATE EXPRESS TRANSPORT CORPORATION LTD.                          ….RESPONDENT




                                                 JUDGMENT

SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. On the fateful day of 16.08.2011, the appellant was travelling from

Chennai to Bangalore in a bus owned by the respondent State Corporation

bearing registration No. TN-01-N-7531.

Signature Not Verified
At about 5.40 a.m., while the bus
Digitally signed by
ASHA SUNDRIYAL
was moving on the Kolar Bangalore National Highway, it ran into a stationary
Date: 2020.07.27
18:21:30 IST
Reason:

lorry. The collision resulted in multiple injuries to numerous passengers

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including the appellant, and caused death of the bus conductor on the spot.

The appellant was rushed to R.L. Jallappa Research & Medical College

Hospital, Tamak, Kolar and further treatment was administered at the

Manipal Hospital, Bangalore where she remained admitted for 8 months. The

injuries to the appellant were grievous including fractures in the arms and

legs and she suffered a disability of 31.1% of the whole body.

3. An FIR was registered in pursuance of investigation naming the driver

of the bus as an accused. Chargesheet was filed. But what is relevant is that

the appellant filed a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal

(“MACT”), Madurai under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (“MV

Act”) read with Rule 3(1) of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Accident Claims

Tribunal Rules, 1989 claiming a compensation of Rupees One Crore for

injuries sustained in the accident. Evidence was led by both the parties and

the MACT, on a perusal of the documents and oral testimonies, including the

rough sketch and the chargesheet, came to the conclusion that the accident

occurred due to the rash and negligent manner of driving of the bus driver of

the bus owned by the respondent State Corporation and, thus, held the

respondent liable to pay compensation to the appellant. In terms of the

judgment dated 20.10.2014, the MACT opined that the permanent disability

of 31.1% would have to be considered and applied the multiplier method to

calculate the loss of earning power. Since the appellant was 23 years of age,

multiplier of 17 was applied on the monthly salary of the appellant as a

software engineer and the compensation was worked out for loss of earning

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power to Rs. 9,27,424/. The compensation was also attributed under various

heads of extra nourishment, medical expenses, physiotherapy, loss of

matrimonial aspects, loss of comfort and amenities, mental agony, and pain

and suffering. The total quantification of the compensation by the MACT was

of Rs. 35,24,288/- payable by the respondent State Corporation along with

interest @ 7.5% per annum from the date of petition till the date of

realization with costs.

4. The respondent State Corporation filed an appeal against this order

and the appellant filed cross objections. Both of them were decided by the

impugned judgment of the High Court dated 27.10.2017 by a common order.

The High Court, confirming the findings of negligence of the bus driver,

reduced the compensation to Rs. 25,00,000/- primarily on the ground that

the multiplier method for quantifying loss of earning power has been wrongly

applied as it had not come on record as to how the injuries suffered by the

appellant would have a bearing on her earning capacity as a software

engineer. The interest rate was sustained.

5. The appellant has claimed before this Court that she is entitled to

enhancement of compensation even over and above what was granted by

the MACT and has quantified the same as Rs. 41,69,831/- under various

heads along with claiming a revised interest rate @ 12% per annum.

6. We heard learned counsels for the parties. They have also filed short

synopses of their respective claims and rebuttals thereof, with the appellant

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enlisting the principles which can apply to her case, the law being now well

settled in like cases.

7. There are three aspects which are required to be examined by us:

(a) the application of multiplier of ‘17’ instead of ‘18’;

The aforesaid increase of multiplier is sought on the basis of age of the

appellant as 23 years relying on the judgment in National Insurance

Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi and Others1. In para 42 of the said

judgment, the Constitution Bench effectively affirmed the multiplier method

to be used as mentioned in the table in the case of Sarla Verma (Smt) and

Others. v. Delhi Transport Corporation and Another. 2. In the age group of 15-

25 years, the multiplier has to be ‘18’ along with factoring in the extent of

disability.

The aforesaid position is not really disputed by learned counsel for the

respondent State Corporation and, thus, we come to the conclusion that the

multiplier to be applied in the case of the appellant has to be ‘18’ and not

‘17’.

(b) Loss of earning capacity of the appellant with permanent disability of
31.1%

In respect of the aforesaid, the appellant has claimed compensation on what

is stated to be the settled principle set out in Jagdish v. Mohan & Others3 and

1 (2017) 16 SCC 680
2 (2009) 6 SCC 121
3 (2018) 4 SCC 571
4
Sandeep Khanuja v. Atul Dande & Another4. We extract below the principle

set out in the Jagdish case (supra) in para 8:

“8. In assessing the compensation payable the
settled principles need to be borne in mind. A victim
who suffers a permanent or temporary disability
occasioned by an accident is entitled to the award of
compensation. The award of compensation must cover
among others, the following aspects:

                   (i)       Pain, suffering and trauma resulting
                             from the accident;
                   (ii)      Loss of income including future
                             income;
                   (iii)     The inability of the victim to lead a
                             normal life together with its amenities;
                   (iv)      Medical expenses including those that
                             the victim may be required to undertake
                             in future; and
                   (v)       Loss of expectation of life.”
                                                             [emphasis supplied]



The aforesaid principle has also been emphasized in an earlier judgment, i.e.

the Sandeep Khanuja case (supra) opining that the multiplier method was

logically sound and legally well established to quantify the loss of income as

a result of death or permanent disability suffered in an accident.

In the factual contours of the present case, if we examine the disability

certificate, it shows the admission/hospitalization on 8 occasions for various

number of days over 1 ½ years from August 2011 to January 2013. The

nature of injuries had been set out as under:

“Nature of injury:

                  (i)       compound fracture shaft left humerus
                  (ii)      fracture both bones left forearm
                  (iii)     compound fracture both bones right forearm

4 (2017) 3 SCC 351
                                                                              5
                  (iv)        fracture 3rd, 4th & 5th metacarpals right hand
                  (v)         subtrochanteric fracture right femur
                  (vi)        fracture shaft left femur
                  (vii)       fracture both bones left leg”


We have also perused the photographs annexed to the petition

showing the current physical state of the appellant, though it is stated by

learned counsel for the respondent State Corporation that the same was not

on record in the trial court. Be that as it may, this is the position even after

treatment and the nature of injuries itself show their extent. Further, it has

been opined in para 12 of Sandeep Khanuja case (supra) that while applying

the multiplier method, future prospects on advancement in life and career

are also to be taken into consideration.

We are, thus, unequivocally of the view that there is merit in the

contention of the appellant and the aforesaid principles with regard to future

prospects must also be applied in the case of the appellant taking the

permanent disability as 31.1%. The quantification of the same on the basis

of the judgment in National Insurance Co. Ltd. case (supra), more specifically

para 59.3, considering the age of the appellant, would be 50% of the actual

salary in the present case.

(c) The third and the last aspect is the interest rate claimed as 12%

In respect of the aforesaid, the appellant has watered down the

interest rate during the course of hearing to 9% in view of the judicial

pronouncements including in the Jagdish case (supra). On this aspect, once

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again, there was no serious dispute raised by the learned counsel for the

respondent once the claim was confined to 9% in line with the interest rates

applied by this Court.

CONCLUSION

8. The result of the aforesaid is that relying on the settled principles, the

calculation of compensation by the appellant, as set out in para 5 of the

synopsis, would have to be adopted as follows:

HEADS                                                   AMOUNT (INR.)
LOSS OF EARNING POWER (14648*12*18*31.1/100)            9,81,978.76
TOWARDS FUTURE PROSPECTS (50% ADDITION)                 4,90,989
MEDICAL    EXPENSES   INCLUDING    TRANSPORT            18,46,864
CHARGES, NOURISHMENT ETC.
LOSS OF MATRIMONIAL ASPECTS                             5,00,000
LOSS OF COMFORT, AMENITIES AND MENTAL AGONY             1,50,000
PAIN AND SUFFERING                                      2,00,000
TOTAL                                                   41,69,831


The appellant would, thus, be entitled to the compensation of Rs. 41,69,831/-

as claimed along with simple interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the

date of application till the date of payment.

9. The appeals are, accordingly, allowed with costs throughout.

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10. The balance amount be transmitted by the respondent State

Corporation to the appellant within a maximum period of six weeks from

today.

……..……………………………….J.

[SANJAY KISHAN KAUL]

……..……………………………….J.

[AJAY RASTOGI]

……..……………………………….J.

[ANIRUDDHA BOSE]
NEW DELHI.

JULY 27, 2020

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