In motor accident compensation claim proceedings, the Supreme Court stated that ‘just compensation’ in excess of the claimed sum can be paid. According to the bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and JK Maheshwari, the Tribunal/Court should award ‘just’ compensation that is reasonable in the circumstances based on the evidence presented on record.
In this case, a twelve-year-old boy was playing in front of his house when he was hit by the Commander Jeep and died on the way to the hospital. The mother of the deceased child filed a Claim Petition under Sections 140, 166, and 171 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, demanding compensation in the amount of Rs. 2,00,000/- plus interest. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal awarded Rs. 1,50,000/- in lump sum compensation. In an appeal, the Jharkhand High Court in Ranchi increased the amount of compensation to Rs. 2,00,000/-, the value of the claim stated in the Claim Petition.
The mother-claimant then petitioned the Supreme Court, claiming that MACT and the High Court had not granted any sum under the heading “loss of prospective happiness” or other usual heads, and that the amount granted under the heading “loss of dependency” was insufficient. The claim’s valuation is irrelevant in determining just and reasonable compensation, but the High Court erred in limiting compensation to the claim’s valuation, it was argued.
The deceased was a brilliant student who attended a private school, according to the court. The court also noted that in Kishan Gopal and others vs. Lala and others (2014), the compensation was calculated using Rs. 30,000/- as notional income including future prospects instead of Rs. 15,000/- as specified in the IInd Schedule of the M.V. Act and applying the exponent specified in Sarla Verma & Others vs. Delhi Transport Corporation and Others (2009). Using the aforementioned judgement, the court increased the amount of compensation to 5,00,000/-. While granting the appeal, the court stated:
“It is necessary to clarify that as per the decision of a Three-Judge Bench of this Court in Nagappa vs. Gurdayal Singh and others (2003), it was observed that under the MV Act, there is no restriction that the Tribunal/Court cannot award compensation exceeding the amount so claimed. The Tribunal/Court ought to award ‘just’ compensation which is reasonable in the facts relying upon the evidence produced on record. Therefore, less valuation, if any, made in the Claim Petition would not be impediment to award just compensation exceeding the claimed amount.”