United India Insurance Co. Ltd. vs Satinder Kaur @ Satwinder Kaur And … on 30 June, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

United India Insurance Co. Ltd. vs Satinder Kaur @ Satwinder Kaur And … on 30 June, 2020

Author: Hon’Ble Ms. Malhotra

Bench: Hon’Ble Ms. Malhotra

                                                                     REPORTABLE



                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                   CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.2705 OF 2020
                               (arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 28548 of 2014)



         United India Insurance Co. Ltd.                                …Appellant

                                                  versus

         Satinder Kaur @ Satwinder Kaur & Ors.                          …Respondents

                                                  WITH

                                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.2706 OF 2020
                               (arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 12520 of 2015)



         Satinder Kaur @ Satwinder Kaur & Ors.                          …Appellants

                                                  versus

         United India Insurance Co. Ltd.                                …Respondent



                                          J U D G M E N T

INDU MALHOTRA, J.

Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
MUKESH KUMAR
Date: 2020.06.30
Leave granted.

12:46:02 IST
Reason:

1

1. The deceased – Satpal Singh was residing in Doha, Qatar

since 1984. The Employment Contract Form of the deceased

dated 21.08.1984 revealed that he was engaged as a labourer

initially for a period of one year on a salary of 750 Qatari

Riyal p.m., and continued to live in Qatar where he was

employed, till he passed away in a motor vehicle accident in

India in 1998.

2. Satpal Singh was visiting India in November, 1998. On

18.11.1998, he was riding a scooter, with his wife as the

pillion rider, when he met with an accident with a Maruti car

bearing No. CH-01-M-6284 coming from the opposite

direction.

FIR No. 204 dated 18.11.1998 was lodged u/S. 304A,

279, 337, 427 IPC at P.S. Sadar, Rajpura against the driver

and owner of the offending car.

The FIR was lodged on the statement of Satinder Kaur –

widow of the deceased, wherein she had stated that the

accident had occurred due to the rash and negligent driving

of the driver of the Maruti car. It was further stated that the

accident took place while her husband was over-taking a

tractor-trolley, when the Maruti car was coming at a high

2
speed from the opposite side. This led to the accident, and

caused the death of Satpal Singh on the spot.

The Claimant No. 1 i.e. wife of the deceased was also

seriously injured. Her right leg and jaw were fractured. The

Claimant No. 1 remained in hospital for over a month. A rod

was inserted in her leg, and remained in plaster for about 7

to 8 months. The accident led to 25% permanent disability,

which is borne out from the Disability Certificate issued by

the Civil Surgeon, Patiala.

3. Claim Petition bearing M.A.C. Application No. 152 was filed

before the MACT, Patiala (Punjab) on 24.12.1998 u/S. 166 of

the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 by the widow of the deceased,

on behalf of herself and her 3 minor children for

compensation on the death of her husband. The Claimants

prayed for compensation of Rs. 50 lacs, alongwith Interest

@18% p.a. to be paid jointly and severally by the Insurance

Company, and the driver and owner of the Maruti car.

3.1. A copy of the FIR was placed before the MACT, as also

the Post Mortem Report which recorded the serious

head injuries caused by the road accident on the

deceased.

3
3.2. The Claimants filed a photocopy of the Employment

Contract Form dated 10.07.1984 certified by the

Indian Embassy at Doha, which records the

engagement of the deceased as a labourer by the firm

Ali Al Fayyad Trading Contracting Est., Doha on a

salary of 750 Qatari Riyal p.m., when he first shifted to

Qatar.

3.3. The Claimants also placed on record a letter dated

27.06.1997 purported to have been issued by his

employer – the High Speed Group to the Counsellor,

New Zealand Consulate for issuance of a visa. It was

stated that the General Manager of their company, Mr.

Satpal Harbans Singh was intending to spend his

annual vacation during June – August 1997 in New

Zealand, and had been employed by this organization

since 1984, and was now drawing a salary of $ 6,700

p.m.

It is relevant to note that this letter was not

attested by the Indian Embassy at Doha.

3.4. The Claimants placed on record the Passport of the

deceased, which reveals his date of birth as

4
10.08.1958. The deceased was a little over 40 years of

age at the time of the accident.

The passport entries reveal frequent foreign travel

during the period 1986 till 1998 when he expired.

4. The MACT vide Award dated 30.03.2001 held that a perusal

of the first statement made by Claimant No. 1 – widow of the

deceased in the FIR, revealed that her husband was over-

taking a tractor–trolley when the accident occurred, because

the Maruti car was coming at a high speed from the opposite

side. Consequently, the MACT held that it was a case of

contributory negligence on the part of the deceased Satpal

Singh, as also on the part of the driver of the Maruti car.

4.1. The MACT applied the multiplier of 13, since the

deceased was a little over 40 years of age at the time of

his death.

4.2. With respect to the income of the deceased, the MACT

held that the letter dated 27.06.1997 issued by the

High Speed Group, had not been proved by the

Claimants, nor was it attested by the Indian Embassy

at Doha, and therefore refused to take it into

consideration.

5
4.3. The MACT assumed that the income of the deceased

Satpal Singh should be assessed just as an ordinary

skilled worker, and assessed his income at Rs. 4,000

p.m. The amount of dependency was taken as Rs.

2,500 p.m. x 12 x 13 = Rs. 3.90 lacs. Since it was a

case of contributory negligence, the compensation was

reduced by 50%, which worked out to Rs. 1.80 lacs. An

amount of Rs. 10,000 was awarded towards funeral

expenses.

The compensation of Rs. 1,90,000 would carry

Interest @9% p.a. from the date of filing the claim, till

the date of payment.

4.4. The MACT held all three respondents i.e. the driver of

the Maruti car, the owner of the car, and the Insurance

Company liable to pay the compensation awarded,

jointly and severally.

5. Aggrieved by the aforesaid Judgment, the Claimants filed an

Appeal being F.A.O. No. 2294/2001 before the High Court for

further enhancement.

6
5.1. The High Court vide the impugned Judgment and

Order dated 10.03.2014 upheld the findings of the

MACT regarding contributory negligence.

5.2. With respect to the income of the deceased, the High

Court proceeded on the basis of the letter dated

27.06.1997 issued by the High Speed Group, , wherein

it was stated that Satpal Singh was working as a

General Manager, and drawing a salary of $ 6,700 p.m.

which would be equivalent to Rs. 2,68,000 p.m. at the

time when the claim was filed.

5.3. The High Court assessed the compensation on the

basis of the income at Rs. 2,68,000 p.m. and adopted

the multiplier of 12.

The contribution to the family was fixed at 50% of

his income, which would approximately be Rs.

1,34,000 p.m.

Rs. 50,000 was awarded towards loss of estate,

and Rs. 10,000 towards funeral expenses.

On this basis, the total compensation payable to

the Claimants was computed at Rs. 96,78,000 after

7
making a partial abatement of 50% towards

contributory negligence.

The High Court held that since 50% of the income

was provided to the wife and children, it was not

necessary to provide for loss of consortium, and loss of

love and affection.

5.4. The High Court held the Insurance Company to be

liable to pay the compensation, which would be

distributed equally between the widow and children of

the deceased. The enhanced amount of compensation

would carry Interest @7.5% p.a. from the date of filing

the claim, till realization.

6. The Appellant – Insurance Company filed SLP (Civil) No.

28548/2014 to challenge the impugned Judgment.

The Claimants also filed an SLP bearing SLP (Civil) No.

12520/2015 claiming further enhancement of compensation.

7. We have perused the pleadings and the documentary

evidence placed on record before the Courts below, and have

considered the oral submissions made by the Counsel for the

parties.

8
We are of the view that the judgments of both the MACT

and the High Court are liable to be set aside, and the

compensation is required to be awarded in accordance with

the law expounded by this Court in various decisions.

8. Relevant principles for assessment of compensation in

cases of death as evolved by judicial dicta.

The criteria which are to be taken into consideration for

assessing compensation in the case of death, are : (i) the age

of the deceased at the time of his death; (ii) the number of

dependants left behind by the deceased; and (iii) the income

of the deceased at the time of his death.

In Sarla Verma & Ors. v. Delhi Transport Corporation &

Anr.,1 this Court held that to arrive at the loss of dependency,

the tribunal ought to take into consideration three factors :–

i) Additions/deductions to be made for arriving at the

income;

ii) The deduction to be made towards the personal living

expenses of the deceased; and

iii) The multiplier to be applied with reference to the age of

the deceased.

1 (2009) 6 SCC 121.

9
In order to provide uniformity and consistency in

awarding compensation, the following steps are required to be

followed :–

“Step 1 (Ascertaining the multiplicand)
The income of the deceased per annum should be determined.
Out of the said income a deduction should be made in regard to
the amount which the deceased would have spent on himself
by way of personal and living expenses. The balance, which is
considered to be the contribution to the dependant family,
constitutes the multiplicand.

Step 2 (Ascertaining the multiplier)
Having regard to the age of the deceased and period of active
career, the appropriate multiplier should be selected. This does
not mean ascertaining the number of years he would have lived
or worked but for the accident. Having regard to several
imponderables in life and economic factors, a table of
multipliers with reference to the age has been identified by this
Court. The multiplier should be chosen from the said table with
reference to the age of the deceased.

Step 3 (Actual calculation)
The annual contribution to the family (multiplicand) when
multiplied by such multiplier gives the ‘loss of dependency’ to
the family. Thereafter, a conventional amount in the range of
Rs. 5,000/- to Rs. 10,000/- may be added as loss of estate.
Where the deceased is survived by his widow, another
conventional amount in the range of 5,000/- to 10,000/- should
be added under the head of loss of consortium. But no amount
is to be awarded under the head of pain, suffering or hardship
caused to the legal heirs of the deceased.
The funeral expenses, cost of transportation of the body (if
incurred) and cost of any medical treatment of the deceased
before death (if incurred) should also added.”
(emphasis supplied)

(a) Deduction for personal and living expenses

The personal and living expenses of the deceased should

be deducted from the income, to arrive at the contribution to

the family. In Sarla Verma (supra) (paras 30, 31 and 32), this

10
Court took the view that it was necessary to standardize the

deductions to be made under the head personal and living

expenses of the deceased.

Accordingly, it was held that :

 where the deceased was married, the deduction

towards personal and living expenses should be 1/3rd

if the number of dependant family members is two to

three;

 1/4th if the number of dependant family members is

four to six; and

 1/5th if the number of dependant family members

exceeds six.

 If the deceased was a bachelor, and the claim was

filed by the parents, the deduction would normally be

50% as personal and living expenses of the bachelor.

Subject to evidence to the contrary, the father was

likely to have his own income, and would not be

considered to be a dependant. Hence, the mother

alone will be considered to be a dependant.

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary,

brothers and sisters of the deceased bachelor would

11
not be considered to be dependants, because they

would usually either be independent and earning, or

married, or dependant on the father.

Thus, even if the deceased was survived by

parents and siblings, only the mother would be

considered to be a dependant. The deduction towards

personal expenses of a bachelor would be 50%, and

50% would be the contribution to the family.

 However, in a case where the family of the bachelor

was large and dependant on the income of the

deceased, as in a case where he had a widowed

mother, and a large number of younger non-earning

sisters or brothers, his personal and living expenses

could be restricted to 1/3rd, and contribution to the

family be taken as 2/3rd.

A three-judge bench in Reshma Kumari & Ors. v. Madan

Mohan & Anr.,2 affirmed the standards fixed in Sarla Verma

(supra) with respect to the deduction for personal and living

expenses, and held that these standards must ordinarily be

2 (2013) 9 SCC 65.

12
followed, unless a case for departure is made out. The Court

held :

“41. The above does provide guidance for the appropriate
deduction for personal and living expenses. One must bear in
mind that the proportion of a man’s net earnings that he saves
or spends exclusively for the maintenance of others does not
form part of his living expenses but what he spends exclusively
on himself does. The percentage of deduction on account of
personal and living expenses may vary with reference to the
number of dependant members in the family and the personal
living expenses of the deceased need not exactly correspond to
the number of dependants.

42. In our view, the standards fixed by this Court in Sarla
Verma 2009 (6) SCC 121 on the aspect of deduction for
personal living expenses in paragraphs 30, 31 and 32 must
ordinarily be followed unless a case for departure in the
circumstances noted in the preceding para is made out.”

43. In what we have discussed above, we sum up our
conclusions as follows:


43.6. Insofar as deduction for personal and living expenses is
concerned, it is directed that the Tribunals shall ordinarily
follow the standards prescribed in paragraphs 30, 31 and 32 of
the judgment in Sarla Verma 2009 (6) SCC 121 subject to the
observations made by us in para 38 above. …”
(emphasis supplied)

A Constitution Bench of this Court in National Insurance

Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi & Ors.,3 held that the standards fixed

in Sarla Verma (supra) would provide guidance for

appropriate deduction towards personal and living expenses,

and affirmed the conclusion in para 43.6 of Reshma Kumari

(supra).

3 (2017) 16 SCC 680.

13

(b) Determination of Multiplier

With respect to the multiplier, the Court in Sarla Verma

(supra), prepared a chart for fixing the applicable multiplier

in accordance with the age of the deceased, after considering

the judgments in General Manager, Kerala S.R.T.C.,

Trivandrum v. Susamma Thomas & Ors.,4 U.P.S.R.T.C. & Ors.

v. Trilok Chandra & Ors.,5 and New India Assurance Co. Ltd.

v. Charlie & Ors.6

The relevant extract from the said chart i.e. Column 4

has been set out hereinbelow for ready reference :–

Age of the deceased Multiplier (Column 4)
Upto 15 years –

15 to 20 years 18

21 to 25 years 18
26 to 30 years 17
31 to 35 years 16
36 to 40 years 15
41 to 45 years 14
46 to 50 years 13
51 to 55 years 11
56 to 60 years 9
61 to 65 years 7
Above 65 years 5

The Court in Sarla Verma (supra) held :–

“42. We therefore hold that the multiplier to be used should be
as mentioned in column (4) of the Table above (prepared by
applying Susamma Thomas, Trilok Chandra and Charlie),
4 (1994) 2 SCC 176.

5 (1996) 4 SCC 362.

6 (2005) 10 SCC 720.

14
which starts with an operative multiplier of 18 (for the age
groups of 15 to 20 and 21 to 25 years), reduced by one unit for
every five years, that is M-17 for 26 to 30 years, M-16 for 31 to
35 years, M-15 for 36 to 40 years, M-14 for 41 to 45 years, and
M-13 for 46 to 50 years, then reduced by two units for every
five years, that is, M-11 for 51 to 55 years, M-9 for 56 to 60
years, M-7 for 61 to 65 years and M-5 for 66 to 70 years.”
(emphasis supplied)

In Reshma Kumari (supra), this Court affirmed Column 4

of the chart prepared in Sarla Verma (supra), and held that

this would provide uniformity and consistency in determining

the multiplier to be applied. The Constitution Bench in

Pranay Sethi (supra) affirmed the chart fixing the multiplier

as expounded in Sarla Verma (supra), and held :–

“44. At this stage, we must immediately say that insofar as the
aforesaid multiplicand/multiplier is concerned, it has to be
accepted on the basis of income established by the legal
representatives of the deceased. Future prospects are to be
added to the sum on the percentage basis and “income” means
actual income less than the tax paid. The multiplier has already
been fixed in Sarla Verma which has been approved in Reshma
Kumari with which we concur.


59.6. The selection of multiplier shall be as indicated in the
Table in Sarla Verma read with paragraph 42 of that
judgment.”
(emphasis supplied)

(c) Age of the deceased must be the basis for determining

the multiplier even in case of a bachelor.

In Sarla Verma (supra), this Court held that the

multiplier should be determined with reference to the age of

15
the deceased. This was subsequently affirmed in Reshma

Kumari (supra), and followed in a line of decisions.

A three-judge bench in Munna Lal Jain & Ors. v. Vipin

Kumar Sharma & Ors.,7 held that the issue had been decided

in Reshma Kumari (supra), wherein this Court held that the

multiplier must be with reference to the age of the deceased.

The decision in Munna Lal Jain (supra) was followed by

another three-judge bench of this Court in Sube Singh & Ors.

v. Shyam Singh (dead) & Ors.8

The Constitution Bench in National Insurance Company

Limited v. Pranay Sethi & Ors.,9 affirmed the view taken in

Sarla Verma (supra) and Reshma Kumari (supra), and held

that the age of the deceased should be the basis for applying

the multiplier.

Another three-judge bench in Royal Sundaram Alliance

Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Mandala Yadagari Goud & Ors.,10 traced

out the law on this issue, and held that the compensation is

to be computed based on what the deceased would have

contributed to support the dependants. In the case of the

death of a married person, it is an accepted norm that the
7 (2015) 6 SCC 347.

8 (2018) 3 SCC 18.

9 (2017) 16 SCC 680.

10 (2019) 5 SCC 554.

16
age of the deceased would be taken into account. Thus, even

in the case of a bachelor, the same principle must be applied.

The aforesaid legal position has recently been re-affirmed

by this Court in Sunita Tokas and Ors. v. New India

Insurance Co. Ltd. and Ors.11

(d) Future Prospects

In the wake of increased inflation, rising consumer

prices, and general standards of living, future prospects have

to be taken into consideration, not only with respect to the

status or educational qualifications of the deceased, but also

other relevant factors such as higher salaries and perks

which are being offered by private companies these days. The

dearness allowance and perks from which the family would

have derived monthly benefit, are required to be taken into

consideration for determining the loss of dependency.

In Sarla Verma (supra), this Court held :

“24. In Susamma Thomas, this Court increased the income by
nearly 100%, in Sarla Dixit, the income was increased only by
50% and in Abati Bezbaruah the income was increased by a
mere 7%. In view of imponderables and uncertainties, we are in
favour of adopting as a rule of thumb, an addition of 50% of
actual salary to the actual salary income of the deceased
towards future prospects, where the deceased had a
permanent job and was below 40 years. [Where the annual
income is in the taxable range, the words ‘actual salary’ should

11 2019 (11) SCALE 24.

17
be read as ‘actual salary less tax’]. The addition should be only
30% if the age of the deceased was 40 to 50 years. There
should be no addition, where the age of deceased is more than
50 years. Though the evidence may indicate a different
percentage of increase, it is necessary to standardize the
addition to avoid different yardsticks being applied or different
methods of calculations being adopted. Where the deceased
was self-employed or was on a fixed salary (without provision
for annual increments etc.), the courts will usually take only the
actual income at the time of death. A departure therefrom
should be made only in rare and exceptional cases involving
special circumstances.”
(emphasis supplied)

In Pranay Sethi (supra), the Constitution Bench

evaluated all the judicial precedents on the issue of future

prospects including Sarla Verma (supra), and devised a fixed

standard for granting future prospects. It was held :

“57. Having bestowed our anxious consideration, we are
disposed to think when we accept the principle of
standardization, there is really no rationale not to apply the
said principle to the self-employed or a person who is on a fixed
salary. To follow the doctrine of actual income at the time of
death and not to add any amount with regard to future
prospects to the income for the purpose of determination of
multiplicand would be unjust. The determination of income
while computing compensation has to include future prospects
so that the method will come within the ambit and sweep of just
compensation as postulated Under Section 168 of the Act. In
case of a deceased who had held a permanent job with inbuilt
grant of annual increment, there is an acceptable certainty. But
to state that the legal representatives of a deceased who was
on a fixed salary would not be entitled to the benefit of future
prospects for the purpose of computation of compensation
would be inapposite. It is because the criterion of distinction
between the two in that event would be certainty on the one
hand and staticness on the other. One may perceive that the
comparative measure is certainty on the one hand and
uncertainty on the other but such a perception is fallacious. It is
because the price rise does affect a self-employed person; and
that apart there is always an incessant effort to enhance one’s
income for sustenance. The purchasing capacity of a salaried
person on permanent job when increases because of grant of

18
increments and pay revision or for some other change in service
conditions, there is always a competing attitude in the private
sector to enhance the salary to get better efficiency from the
employees. Similarly, a person who is self-employed is bound to
garner his resources and raise his charges/fees so that he can
live with same facilities. To have the perception that he is likely
to remain static and his income to remain stagnant is contrary
to the fundamental concept of human attitude which always
intends to live with dynamism and move and change with the
time. Though it may seem appropriate that there cannot be
certainty in addition of future prospects to the existing income
unlike in the case of a person having a permanent job, yet the
said perception does not really deserve acceptance. We are
inclined to think that there can be some degree of difference as
regards the percentage that is meant for or applied to in respect
of the legal representatives who claim on behalf of the deceased
who had a permanent job than a person who is self-employed
or on a fixed salary. But not to apply the principle of
standardization on the foundation of perceived lack of certainty
would tantamount to remaining oblivious to the marrows of
ground reality. And, therefore, degree-test is imperative. Unless
the degree-test is applied and left to the parties to adduce
evidence to establish, it would be unfair and inequitable. The
degree-test has to have the inbuilt concept of percentage.

Taking into consideration the cumulative factors, namely,
passage of time, the changing society, escalation of price, the
change in price index, the human attitude to follow a particular
pattern of life, etc., an addition of 40% of the established
income of the deceased towards future prospects and where
the deceased was below 40 years an addition of 25% where
the deceased was between the age of 40 to 50 years would be
reasonable.

59. The controversy does not end here. The question still
remains whether there should be no addition where the age of
the deceased is more than 50 years. Sarla Verma thinks it
appropriate not to add any amount and the same has been
approved in Reshma Kumari. Judicial notice can be taken of the
fact that salary does not remain the same. When a person is in
a permanent job, there is always an enhancement due to one
reason or the other. To lay down as a thumb Rule that there
will be no addition after 50 years will be an unacceptable
concept. We are disposed to think, there should be an addition
of 15% if the deceased is between the age of 50 to 60 years and
there should be no addition thereafter. Similarly, in case of self-
employed or person on fixed salary, the addition should be 10%
between the age of 50 to 60 years. The aforesaid yardstick has
been fixed so that there can be consistency in the approach by
the tribunals and the courts.

19

59. In view of the aforesaid analysis, we proceed to record our
conclusions:


59.3. While determining the income, an addition of 50%
of actual salary to the income of the deceased towards
future prospects, where the deceased had a permanent
job and was below the age of 40 years, should be made.
The addition should be 30%, if the age of the deceased
was between 40 to 50 years. In case the deceased was
between the age of 50 to 60 years, the addition should be
15%. Actual salary should be read as actual salary less
tax.

59.4. In case the deceased was self-employed or on a
fixed salary, an addition of 40% of the established
income should be the warrant where the deceased was
below the age of 40 years. An addition of 25% where the
deceased was between the age of 40 to 50 years and 10%
where the deceased was between the age of 50 to 60
years should be regarded as the necessary method of
computation. The established income means the income
minus the tax component. …”
(emphasis supplied)

(e) Three Conventional Heads

In Pranay Sethi (supra), the Constitution Bench held that

in death cases, compensation would be awarded only under

three conventional heads viz. loss of estate, loss of

consortium and funeral expenses.

The Court held that the conventional and traditional

heads, cannot be determined on percentage basis, because

that would not be an acceptable criterion. Unlike

determination of income, the said heads have to be

quantified, which has to be based on a reasonable

foundation. It was observed that factors such as price index,
20
fall in bank interest, escalation of rates, are aspects which

have to be taken into consideration. The Court held that

reasonable figures on conventional heads, namely, loss of

estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses should be

Rs. 15,000/-, Rs. 40,000/- and Rs. 15,000/- respectively.

The Court was of the view that the amounts to be awarded

under these conventional heads should be enhanced by 10%

every three years, which will bring consistency in respect of

these heads.

a) Loss of Estate – Rs. 15,000 to be awarded

b) Loss of Consortium

Loss of Consortium, in legal parlance, was historically

given a narrow meaning to be awarded only to the spouse

i.e. the right of the spouse to the company, care, help,

comfort, guidance, society, solace, affection and sexual

relations with his or her mate. The loss of companionship,

love, care and protection, etc., the spouse is entitled to get,

has to be compensated appropriately. The concept of non-

pecuniary damage for loss of consortium is one of the

major heads for awarding compensation in various

jurisdictions such as the United States of America,

21
Australia, etc. English courts have recognised the right of

a spouse to get compensation even during the period of

temporary disablement.

In Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram &

Ors.,12 this Court interpreted “consortium” to be a

compendious term, which encompasses spousal

consortium, parental consortium, as well as filial

consortium. The right to consortium would include the

company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace and

affection of the deceased, which is a loss to his family.

With respect to a spouse, it would include sexual relations

with the deceased spouse.

Parental consortium is granted to the child upon the

premature death of a parent, for loss of parental aid,

protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and

training.

Filial consortium is the right of the parents to

compensation in the case of an accidental death of a child.

An accident leading to the death of a child causes great

shock and agony to the parents and family of the

deceased. The greatest agony for a parent is to lose their

12 (2018) 18 SCC 130.

22
child during their lifetime. Children are valued for their

love and affection, and their role in the family unit.

Modern jurisdictions world-over have recognized that

the value of a child’s consortium far exceeds the economic

value of the compensation awarded in the case of the

death of a child. Most jurisdictions permit parents to be

awarded compensation under loss of consortium on the

death of a child. The amount awarded to the parents is the

compensation for loss of love and affection, care and

companionship of the deceased child.

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is a beneficial legislation

which has been framed with the object of providing relief

to the victims, or their families, in cases of genuine claims.

In case where a parent has lost their minor child, or

unmarried son or daughter, the parents are entitled to be

awarded loss of consortium under the head of Filial

Consortium.

Parental Consortium is awarded to the children who

lose the care and protection of their parents in motor

vehicle accidents.

23
The amount to be awarded for loss consortium will be

as per the amount fixed in Pranay Sethi (supra).

At this stage, we consider it necessary to provide

uniformity with respect to the grant of consortium, and

loss of love and affection. Several Tribunals and High

Courts have been awarding compensation for both loss of

consortium and loss of love and affection. The

Constitution Bench in Pranay Sethi (supra), has recognized

only three conventional heads under which compensation

can be awarded viz. loss of estate, loss of consortium and

funeral expenses.

In Magma General (supra), this Court gave a

comprehensive interpretation to consortium to include

spousal consortium, parental consortium, as well as filial

consortium. Loss of love and affection is comprehended in

loss of consortium.

The Tribunals and High Courts are directed to award

compensation for loss of consortium, which is a legitimate

conventional head. There is no justification to award

compensation towards loss of love and affection as a

separate head.

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c) Funeral Expenses – Rs. 15,000 to be awarded

The aforesaid conventional heads are to be revised every

three years @10%.

9. We will now apply the law laid down by this Court in the

aforesaid judgments, to compute the compensation payable

to the dependants of the deceased Satpal Singh in the

present case.

9.1. We will first deal with the issue of assessing the

income of the deceased. The MACT assumed that the

deceased was a skilled worker, and fixed his income at

Rs. 4,000 p.m.

It is pertinent to note that the income of the

deceased in 1984 as per his Employment Contract

Form dated 21.08.1984, was 750 Qatari Riyal p.m.

This document was duly certified by the Indian

Embassy at Doha.

The accident occurred on 18.11.1998, which is 15

years after he shifted to Doha. The MACT could not

have assumed the income of the deceased to have

remained at Rs. 4,000 p.m. after having worked for

over 14 years in Doha.

25
The High Court has also erroneously awarded

compensation on the basis of the letter dated

27.06.1997 purported to have been written by the High

Speed Group to the Counselor, New Zealand Consulate

for issuance of a visa to the deceased Satpal Singh who

was engaged by their organization since 1984, and was

drawing a salary of $ 6,700 p.m.

The Insurance Company has seriously disputed

the authenticity of this letter.

We have perused the said letter, and are inclined

to accept the submission made on behalf of the

Insurance Company, that the said document was not

attested by the Indian Embassy at Doha, as per the

Diplomatic & Consular Offices Oaths and Fees Act,

1948.

The said document was not proved by the

Claimants, and cannot form the basis of computing the

income of the deceased.

The letter dated 27.06.1997 seems to be

suspicious for two other grounds. One, as per the

Employment Contract Form dated 21.08.1984 certified

26
by the Indian Embassy at Doha, the deceased was

engaged by the firm Ali Al Fayyad Trading Contracting

Est., Doha in 1984. The letter dated 27.06.1997 issued

by the High Speed Group, stated that the deceased was

employed with them since 1984. This leads to a serious

doubt about the authenticity of the letter.

Furthermore, the salary is mentioned in U.S. Dollars,

rather than Qatari Riyal, even though the High Speed

Group is a local company in Qatar.

Second, the letter dated 27.06.1997 was addressed

to the Counselor, New Zealand Consulate for a visa to

be issued to the deceased for his annual vacation to

New Zealand during the period June – August, 1997.

The passport entries however, do not show that the

deceased travelled to New Zealand.

Consequently, we have serious doubts about the

authenticity and veracity of the letter dated

27.06.1997, and decline to make it the basis for

computing the income of the deceased at the time of

his death.

27
The High Court by relying on the letter dated

27.06.1997, awarded an amount of Rs. 1,93,56,000 to

the Claimants, which after reducing by 50% on

account of contributory negligence, worked out to Rs.

96,78,000. It is pertinent to note that the Claimants

had prayed for an amount of Rs. 50 lacs as

compensation in their claim petition before the MACT.

The High Court has committed an error in awarding

such an exorbitant amount on the basis of an

unverified document, the authenticity of which was

seriously disputed.

In the absence of any other evidence being

produced by the Claimants, the income of the deceased

would be required to be computed by taking his base

salary at 750 Qatari Riyal p.m. in 1984 as a skilled

labourer, as reflected in his Employment Contract

Form.

A perusal of the passport entries of the deceased

reveal that he had continued to remain in employment

for a period of over 14 years in Qatar till he passed

away in 1998. He was evidently doing fairly well, since

28
there are numerous entries of foreign travel in his

passport during the 14 years of his stay in Doha. By

taking an increment of 10% per annum from 1984 till

1998, the notional income of the deceased could be

fixed at 2590 Qatari Riyal p.m., which can be rounded

off to 2600 Qatari Riyal p.m. As per the exchange rate

prevailing in 1998, 1 Qatari Riyal was equivalent to

12.41 INR. Accordingly, the income of the deceased

would work out to 2600 x 12.41 = Rs. 32,266 p.m. i.e.

Rs. 3,87,192 p.a.

9.2. Even though in Sarla Verma (supra), it was held that

the deduction towards personal and living expenses

should be 1/4th, if the number of dependant family

members is four, in the present case, we feel that 50%

of the income of the deceased would be required to be

deducted, since he was living in a foreign country.

The deceased had to maintain an establishment

there, and incur expenditure for the same in

commensurate with the high cost of living in a foreign

country. Therefore, we are of the view that the High

29
Court rightly deducted 50% of his income towards

personal and living expenses.

9.3. In the present case, the courts below failed to award

any amount towards future prospects. The deceased

Satpal Singh was just over 40 years of age at the time

of his death. As per the judgment of the Constitution

Bench in Pranay Sethi (supra), future prospects @30%

are to be awarded for computing the compensation

payable to the Claimants.

9.4. The multiplicand for computing the compensation

would therefore, work out to Rs. 3,87,192 – 50% + 30%

= Rs. 2,51,675.

9.5. The deceased Satpal Singh was 40 years of age at the

time of his death. Accordingly, the multiplier of 15

would be the appropriate multiplier as per the table set

out in Sarla Verma (supra).

9.6. Multiplying the multiplicand of Rs. 2,51,675 by the

multiplier of 15, the loss of dependency payable to the

Claimants would work out to Rs. 37,75,125.

9.7. Insofar as the conventional heads are concerned, the

deceased Satpal Singh left behind a widow and three

30
children as his dependants. On the basis of the

judgments in Pranay Sethi (supra) and Magma General

(supra), the following amounts are awarded under the

conventional heads :-

            i)    Loss of Estate: Rs. 15,000

            ii)   Loss of Consortium:

                  a) Spousal Consortium: Rs. 40,000

b) Parental Consortium: 40,000 x 3 = Rs. 1,20,000

iii) Funeral Expenses : Rs. 15,000

9.8. We affirm the deduction of 50% made by the MACT

and the High Court towards contributory negligence.

10. In light of the aforesaid discussion, the Claimants are

awarded compensation as follows :

    i)   Income :                              Rs. 3,87,192 p.a.
    ii)  Deduction towards
         Personal Expenses :                   50%
    iii) Future Prospects :                    30%
    iv) Multiplicand :                         Rs. 2,51,675
                                               (3,87,192-50%+30%)
    v)      Multiplier :                       15
    vi)     Loss of Dependency :               Rs. 37,75,125
                                               (2,51,675 x 15)
    vii)    Funeral Expenses :                 Rs. 15,000
    viii)   Loss of Estate :                   Rs. 15,000
    ix)     Loss of Spousal Consortium :       Rs. 40,000
    x)      Loss of Parental Consortium to
            each of the 3 children :       Rs. 1,20,000

                                    31
    xi) Total compensation :               Rs. 39,65,125
    xii) Deduction on account
         of contributory negligence :      50%
         Total compensation to
         be paid :                         Rs. 19,82,563


11. This Court vide Order dated 13.10.2014 had stayed the

operation of the impugned judgment subject to the Appellant

– Insurance Company depositing a sum of Rs. 10 lacs before

the Trial Court. The Claimants were granted liberty to

withdraw the same.

12. The Appellant – Insurance Company is directed to pay the

balance amount of compensation within a period of twelve

weeks’ from the date of this judgment.

13. The deceased Satpal Singh had died on 18.11.1998. His

dependants have been pursuing legal proceedings for grant of

compensation since the past 22 years. As a consequence, we

deem it appropriate to direct that Interest @12% p.a. be paid

on the total compensation awarded, from the date of filing

the claim petition, till realization.

14. The Claimant No. 1 i.e. widow of the deceased has suffered

permanent disability of 25% in this accident. She has single-

32
handedly raised her three minor children, and eked out her

livelihood through agricultural activity.

We direct that 50% of the total compensation (inclusive

of interest) be given to the Claimant No. 1 i.e. widow of the

deceased, and the balance 50% be divided equally between

the three children.

15. The Civil Appeals are disposed of in the aforesaid terms.

…………………………………J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

…………………………………J.

(INDU MALHOTRA)

…………………………………J.

(ANIRUDDHA BOSE)

June 30, 2020.

New Delhi.

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