Compensation awarded under Employees’ Compensation Act in lieu of death in vehicular accident cannot be treated as taxable income

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vivek Singh Thakur, J. upheld the decision of the Commissioner directing the petitioner-insurer to pay the balance amount to the respondents-claimants, which was deducted as TDS from the compensation paid to the respondents.

The claimants claimed compensation under Section 3 of Employees’ Compensation Act for the death of the deceased who died in an accident while working as a conductor. The Commissioner allowed the claim of the respondents and awarded Rs. 3,79,592.50 as compensation to the claimants along with interest. The insurance company deposited the amount as awarded; however, only after deducting 20% of the amount as Tax Deducted at Source (TDS). Subsequently, in the execution proceedings, the Commissioner ordered the attachment of properties of the insurer for the realization of the balance of amount not paid (amount deducted) by the insurer. Aggrieved by the same, the insurer approached the High Court.

The High Court perused the record and while referring to Section 194-A Income Tax Act 1961, noted that compensation awarded under Motor Vehicles Act or Employees’ Compensation Act in lieu of death of a person or bodily injury suffered in a vehicular accident, is a damage and not an income and cannot be treated as taxable income. Further, the interest paid on the amount of compensation is also a part of the compensation. The Court held that TDS deducted by the insurer on the compensation awarded to the claimants was illegal. Accordingly, Respondent 6, Income Tax Officer, was directed to return the TDS amount to the petitioner-insurer which was further directed to be passed on to the claimants. [National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Dil Kumari, 2018 SCC OnLine HP 665, dated 01-06-2018]

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