Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Judicature at Madras: S. Vimala J. recently dealt with an appeal under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act wherein the claimant challenged the award he had been provided by the Claims Tribunal, for an accident that had occurred owing to which he suffered 60% disablement, as being insufficient.

The counsel for the claimant contended that when 60% disablement along with multiple surgeries exists, consequential to which permanent disablement occurs, the right procedure to adopt for the Tribunal to determine the compensation that needs to be awarded, should have been the Multiplier method.

The counsel for the respondent Insurance Company on the other hand put across the contention that even though the Tribunal had not adopted the Multiplier method, it had assessed the compensation properly. The compensation for the injury, the loss of income during the period of treatment, the disablement itself and the loss of earning power added up to more than the relevant amount that would necessarily need to be paid in such an instance.

The Court held that the right test that needed to be incorporated in this case was indeed the Multiplier test as was affirmed in Smt. Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation. In this case it was held that the only appropriate test to determine loss of earning in case of the person having sustained 60% disability, which has a substantial effect on his earning capacity, is the Multiplier test. The court thus held that the initial compensation awarded needed to be restructured. It also noted that no compensation had been awarded for future medical expenses.

Additionally, the counsel for the Insurance Company contended that the appellant had only claimed an amount of 10,00,000/- and hence, compensation greater than that amount could not be awarded. However, the Court held that owing to the grievous injuries succumbed by the Claimant, he was not in a position to assess his future medical expenditures and hence, the initial compensation demanded for by the Claimant could be amended accordingly by the Court. For that purpose the Court referred to Nagappa vs. Gurdayal Singh (2003) 2 SCC 274, wherein it was held that there needs to be no restriction as to determining the compensation to be awarded to the claimants. In an appropriate case, where from the evidence brought on record, if the Tribunal/court considered that the claimant was entitled to get more compensation than claimed, the Tribunal could pass such award. This proposition of law was undisputable.

For the aforementioned reasons, the Court held in the favor of the appellant and restructured the compensation that needed to be awarded to him by the Insurance Company. [Ravi v. V.P Jayakal; C.M.A. No. 834 of 2014 dated 19/12/2017]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Delhi: A Bench comprising of N.K. Sharma (President) and Ms. Sonica Mehrotra of the forum delivered a judgement directing a wedding photographer to pay a compensation of Rs. 10,000 to the groom on account of mental harassment for failing to deliver the marriage photographs even after three years of marriage.

In the present case, the marriage took place on 2nd December, 2015 and the photographer had agreed to hand over the wedding photos 10 days after marriage for a consideration of Rs. 15,000. Despite, paying the opposite party an extra amount of Rs. 12,500 and serving him with legal notice, the opposite party failed to deliver the photos to the complainant.

Accordingly, the Forum directed the photographer to pay Rs. 3000 on account of litigation expenses to the complainant along with compensation on account of loss of enjoyment. [Rajesh Sharma v. Lucky Digital Photo Studio, Complaint Case No. 15/17, decided on 14.11.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: In its recent order, the Court ruled that the insurance company is bound to pay compensation for the accident caused, even if the same occurred abroad. The Bench of Rajbir Sehrawat, J.  set aside the earlier order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Kurukshetra which had absolved the insurance company from its liability and had instead ordered the owners of the bus to pay a compensation of Rs 4, 34,500, in a case where the bus in question carrying 54 pilgrims met with an accident in Nepal.

Justice Sehrawat in his judgement stated, “….the insurance policy is attached to the ‘vehicle’ in question and not to geographical expanse of the area of operation of the vehicle in question…”. He further supplemented the same by saying, “…Motor Vehicles Act extends only to ‘whole of India’ as per  Section 1, so it does not cover the area outside India. However, this rational also does not exempt the Insurance Company from liability arising from the usage of the vehicle outside the geographical area of the Union of India. This section also implies that the Act would be applicable to all the citizens and subjects of India qua all the Motor Vehicular aspects in India. It does not exclude the liability of one citizen or entity of India qua the other citizen of India even if the same is incurred outside the geographical area of Union of India…” [Anil Kumar v. Roop Kumar Sharma, FAO No. 152 of 2017, decided on 13.11.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: In a recent order given by the Bench of Sanjay K. Agrawal J., it was held that the Human Rights Commission can only make a recommendation, and that it has no jurisdiction to pass an order directing payment of compensation.

The Commission in an earlier order had directed the petitioner to pay an amount of Rs 6,22,000 to the respondent as compensation towards illegal installation of six electricity polls and electricity line in an agricultural field. Even though Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 talks about the entitled compensation, Section 19(a) of the Act explicitly mentions that the Commission has no authority to grant compensation and can only recommend the same.

It was also observed by the Supreme Court in the matter of Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. v. Century Textiles and Industries Ltd.(2017) 5 SCC 143 that the power to award compensation is with the District Magistrate, which furthermore elucidated on the jurisdiction of HRC. Much reliance was given to recent Supreme Court judgments like Indian Handcrafts Emporium v. Union of India, (2003) 7 SCC 589; N.C. Dhoundial v. Union of India, (2004) 2 SCC 579 and Rajesh Das v. Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission, 2010 SCC OnLine Mad 4543:   2010 (5) CTC 589 which ultimately concluded that HRC is a recommendatory body and it has no jurisdiction to pass an order directing payment of compensation and hence the previous order was just a recommendation and not an order. [Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board v. Chhattisgarh Human Rights Commission, 2017 SCC OnLine Chh 1415, decided 7.11.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In reference relating to the computation of compensation under Sections 163-A and 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) and the methodology for computation of future prospects, giving a unanimous decision, the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ held that 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. The bench said:

“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.”

Stating that this concept is to be applied to salaried employees and self-employed persons, both, the Court explained that the purchasing capacity of a salaried person on permanent job when increases because of grant of 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. Regarding self-employed persons it was said:

“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.”

The Court, hence, laid down the following guidelines for computation of compensation:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The age of the deceased should be the basis for applying the multiplier.
  • 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 aforesaid amounts should be enhanced at the rate of 10% in every three years.
  • The decision in Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation, (2009) 6 SCC 121, is to be relied upon for determination of the multiplicand, the deduction for personal and living expenses, and the selection of multiplier. [National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1270, decided on 31.10.2017]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Devan Ramchandran, J. dealt with a writ petition filed by the State Public Information Officer challenging the order of the State Information Commission whereby, the petitioner had been directed to pay a compensation of Rs. 25,000 to the respondent on the ground that the petitioner had withheld some information from the respondent, who was an RTI applicant.

The facts of the case are that the respondent was seeking some information regarding his service in the General Education Department. However, he was shown only one file which had eight relevant pages missing from it. Therefore, the respondent moved the Commission against the petitioners. The petitioners contend that there is no evidence to prove that those eight pages had been deliberately withheld from the respondent and that the Commission’s order of compensation is illegal and unlawful because they refused to consider that the documents were really missing.

Relying on the arguments of the petitioners, the Court considered the relevant provision of the Right to Information Act, 2005, that is, Section 19, which states that, an imposition of penalty or an order of compensation in favor of the applicant can be made by the Commission “only if loss or detriment has been suffered by the applicant”. In the present case, “the Commission granted an amount of Rs. 25,000 without any adjudication as to the actual loss suffered by him and also without assessing whether the information said to be not given to him was deliberately withheld by the authorities.” Therefore, the order did not hold any legal sustenance and was set aside. [State Public Information Officer v. Rajendran Pillai,  2017 SCC OnLine Ker 15958, order dated 4.08. 2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Determining the period of limitation for filing a suit or claim under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, the bench of Kurian Joseph and R. Banumathi, JJ held that when a suit for compensation is filed under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, the same has to be filed within the period of two years as prescribed under Article 82 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

The Court was hearing the case where the deceased died due to electrocution after coming in contact with the live electricity wire while discharging his duties as a driver of a bus in the year 2008. His widow sought Rs.22,68,000/- towards damage under the 1855 Act, however, the District Judge dismissed the claim and held that as per Article 82 of the Limitation Act, 1963, the claim should have been presented within two years from the date of death of the person. The Rajasthan High Court also upheld the said decision.

The Supreme Court held that Part VII of the Schedule deals with the “suits relating to tort”, therefore, when a suit for compensation is filed under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, the same has to be filed within the period of two years as prescribed under Article 82 of the Limitation Act, 1963. However, the Court invoked it’s jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India and granted Rs. 7 lakhs as compensation. The Court gave the verdict after considering the peculiar facts of the case after taking note of the fact that Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited has a scheme under the Rules now applicable wherein the legal heirs of the deceased person are entitled to a one-time compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs. [Damini v. Managing Director, Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1105, decided on 14.09.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While delivering the judgment in a miscellaneous first appeal filed under Section 173(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, a Single Judge Bench of Raghvendra S. Chauhan, J. set aside the impugned judgment and award passed by the IInd Additional District and Sessions Judge whereby he directed the appellant to pay compensation of Rs. 75,000 to the respondent.

The respondent-claimant was engaged in business of transporting good. On the date of incident they were transporting 15 KVA DG set in a Canter Tempo which was hit by a KSRTC bus, which caused damage to the said goods. The respondent-claimant paid Rs. 75,000 for the repair of the said goods and hence claimed compensation of the same amount from the appellant-insurance company.

The appellant-insurance company raised a preliminary objection of maintainability of the claim petition contending that the claimant was not the owner of goods and under Section 166 of the MV Act, only the owner of the goods was entitled to claim compensation.

The High Court after perusing the impugned award and Section 166 of the MV Act held that according to Section 166(1)(b) of the Act, it is only the owner of the property who is entitled to file the application for compensation. A transporter is a mere agent of the owner of the goods. Therefore the respondent-claimant could not have filed the petition for compensation under S. 166 of the Act. Accordingly, the claim petition filed by the respondent was held not maintainable. The appeal was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [The Manager, The Oriental Insurance Company Limited v. M/s Rao and Brothers, Miscellaneous First Appeal No. 6042 of 2014 (MV), dated August 18, 2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and PC Pant, J set aside the Gujarat High Court order directing the Gujarat Government to give compensation in favour of the persons in charge of all the religious places including those of worship, which were damaged during the communal riot of the year 2002 for restoration to the original position, as those existed on the date of destruction.

The Court, however, accepted the scheme framed by the State Government where the Government has fixed the maximum amount under the caption of ex gratia assistance and also conferred the power on the District Collector of the Districts where religious places are situated to determine about the ownership or administration rights of religious places concerned. Noticing that the terms and conditions of the said scheme were reasonable, the Court directed that the claimants who fulfil the conditions of the scheme shall approach the authorities therein within eight weeks and the said authorities shall determine the same within three months from the receipt of the claims. Further, if any party is aggrieved by the denial of the benefit, he can take appropriate steps in accordance with law.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State, had argued that the State fund which consist payment of various taxes by citizens cannot be directed by the High Court to be spent for restoration/construction of any religious places by issuing a writ under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, inasmuch as under the scheme of Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 under the heading “Right to Freedom of Religion”, the Constitution protects certain rights while prohibiting certain actions.

The Court, relied upon the rulings in Prafull Goradia v. Union of India, (2011) 2 SCC 568, where the two-Judge Bench has opined:

“the object of Article 27 is to maintain secularism and the said Article would be violated if the substantial part of the entire income tax collected in India, or a substantial part of the entire central excise or the customs duties or sales tax, or a substantial part of any other tax collected in India, were to be utilized for promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination. However, if only a relatively small part of any tax collected is utilised for providing some conveniences or facilities or concessions to any religious denomination, that would not be violative of Article 27 of the Constitution.”

The Court also took note of the ruling in Archbishop Raphael Cheenath S.V.D. v. State of Orissa, (2009) 17 SCC 90, where the Court had emphasized on the creation of atmosphere where there shall be complete harmony between the groups of people and the duty of the State to have discussions with the various groups to bring about peace and give possible help to the victims and had directed the Government to formulate a scheme regarding the religious places.

The Court noticed that while fixing the maximum limit on ex gratia assistance in it’s scheme, the Government has equated the same with houses which have been given the assistance. It was hence, held that when the individual’s grievances pertaining to property has been conferred the similar assistance, the assistance rendered for repairing/restoration of public places of worship will come within the guidelines of the aforementioned cases. [State of Gujarat v. IRCG, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1011, decided on 29.08.2017]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 10-year-old girl, who’s plea to terminate her pregnancy was refused by the Supreme Court on 28.07.2017, will receive Rs. 10 Lakh compensation from the Chandigarh Administration as directed by the Court. The Court asked the Chandigarh administration to release Rs. 1 Lakh to the family of the girl and keep the remaining Rs. 9 Lakh in Fixed Deposit.

On 28.07.2017, the Court had held that allowing the termination of her pregnancy might be dangerous for the girl’s health, based on the medical report of the 10-year-old rape survivor who was repeatedly raped by her uncle. The Medical Board of PGI, Chandigarh said in it’s report that  it would neither be in the interest of the girl child nor the alive foetus, which is approximately 32-weeks-old, to order abortion.

Source: ANI

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Court directed the State Government to pay the compensation promised to the families of the victims of the 1984 riots. The case before the Court was that, the petitioner, aged about 75 years, and had lost four family members in the 1984 riots. A compensation of Rs. 20,00,000 was disbursed by the Government in her favour but due to the inaction of the authorities concerned , she had not received the promised amount. It was previously stated by the District Magistrate, Raisen, that the compensation could not be provided due to paucity of funds.

The Court directed the Government to comply with its order granting the compensation and disburse the amount within 6 weeks. [Harjinder Kaur@ Gurmeet Kaur v. State of Madhya Pradesh, WP-8265-2017, decided on 17.08.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: In a petition claiming damages for facing wrongful criminal prosecution for ten years of petitioner’s life and praying for action to be taken against the erring investigating officers, a Division Bench comprising of Ranjit More and Sarang V. Kotwal, JJ., partially allowed the petition, thereby directing the State of Maharashtra to pay a compensation of R. 6 lakhs to the petitioner within a period of 8 weeks, the amount being recoverable from the officers who investigated the case between 1996 and 2006.

In a case dating back to 1996, involving the murder of a 21 year old Guddu, whose dead body was identified by a former employer, he expressed his suspicion against the petitioner and two other persons when the police approached him. His suspicions were based on the ground that three persons from Ludhiana had come looking for the deceased and one of them had the same name as that of the petitioner. Following the petitioner’s arrest, Guddu’s mother gave a statement that though she had received communication that Guddu had been murdered in 1996, she had met him on subsequent occasions. This was corroborated by five other people. Therefore, it is clear that the investigating authorities were aware of a possibility of Guddu being alive, but they chose to ignore their responsibilities.

Relying on Nilabati Behera v. Legal Aid Committee, (1993) 2 SCC 746 and Sharda Narayan Bhongade v. Surendra Jagmohan Pali, (2002) SCC OnLine Bom 870, the Court held that “the right to life and personal liberty is available to a person who is facing a criminal prosecution” and that in this case, it had been “seriously infringed because of callous attitude and inaction on the part of investigating agency”. However, no directions were issued against the erring officers since two of them had expired and one had retired. [Jawaharlal Ramtirth Sharma v. State of Maharashtra, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 7453, decided on August 9, 2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While delivering the judgment in a Miscellaneous First Appeal under Section 173(1) of the MV Act, against the judgment passed by the Ist Additional District Judge, Mangaluru, a Single Judge Bench comprising of B. Manohar, J. held that reading Section 167 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 makes it very clear that option has been given to the claimants to seek compensation either under the Employees Compensation Act, 1923 or the MV Act. They cannot file a claim petition under the provisions of both the Acts.

Respondents herein were family members of the deceased who died in a road accident while he was proceeding on a motorcycle. They claimed compensation under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicles Act. However, the records clearly disclosed that immediately after the death of the deceased, the respondents had filed a compensation petition under the Employees Compensation Act, and the compensation was awarded.

Learned counsel appearing for the appellant contended that the wife and children of the deceased had already filed a claim petition before the Commissioner of Employees Compensation. The Tribunal awarded the compensation. However, the claimants again filed one more set of claim petition seeking compensation under the MV Act. According to the learned counsel, there is a clear bar to that in light of Section 167 of the MV Act.

The learned Judge gave careful consideration to the arguments addressed by both the parties, and held that the claimants are not allowed to avail dual benefit under the above said two enactments. The Court also relied on the decision of the Apex Court in National Insurance Company v. Mastan, (2006) 2 SCC 641 which held that Section 167 contains a non-obstante clause providing for such an option notwithstanding anything contained in the 1923 Act. Accordingly the appeal was allowed and the judgment and award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Mangalore was set aside. [United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Lalitha Rathan, 2017 SCC OnLine Kar 1554, order dated 15.03.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where a 35-year-old woman victim of sexual assault had sought for termination of pregnancy on the ground that she is HIV positive, the Court, after considering the report of the AIIMs medical Board which stated that the procedure involved in termination of the pregnancy is risky to the life of the petitioner and the fetus in the womb, held that though there cannot be termination of pregnancy but the State of Bihar will provide all the medical facilities to the petitioner as per the treatment graph given by the doctors who are going to examine the petitioner at AIIMS through the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences at Patna.

The Medical Board had also suggested that she is advised to continue HAART therapy and routine antenatal care, to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to the fetus/baby to the minimum. The Court hence, directed the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences to work in coordination with AIIMS, New Delhi so that the health condition of the petitioner is not further jeopardized.

The Bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ also directed the State of Bihar to pay Rs. 3,00,000 to the petitioner as compensation under the scheme of Section 357-A CrPC within 4 weeks as she has been a victim of rape. [Indu Devi v. State of Bihar, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 560, order dated 09.05.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ held that a post-acquisition allottee of land is necessary or proper party or has any locus to be heard in the matter of determination of compensation under the scheme of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

In the present case, large land was acquired by the State of Haryana in different phases for the public purpose of setting-up Industrial Model Township by the Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC) in Gurgaon District in Haryana and a substantial part of the acquired land was allotted to Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL). MSIL had sought for Impleadment as a necessary party in the matter relating to enhancement of compensation on the ground that it was a “person interested”. Rejecting the said contention, the Court said that the expression “person interested” could include a company or local authority for whose benefit the land was acquired under Part VII of the LA Act but the post-acquisition allottee cannot by any stretch of imagination be treated at par with beneficiary for whom the land was acquired.

Explaining the scheme of the LA Act, 1894, the Court said that if the acquisition is for a public purpose, the land vests in the State after the Collector makes an award and the possession is taken. Once the land vests in the State, the acquisition is complete. Any transferee from the State is not concerned with the process of acquisition. The State may transfer the land by public auction or by allotment at any price with which the person whose land is acquired has no concern. The mere fact that the Government chooses to determine the allotment price with reference to compensation price determined by the Court does not provide any locus to an allottee to contest the claim for enhancement of compensation. [Satish Kumar Gupta v. State of Haryana, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 159, decided on 21.02.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Single Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. has stayed the order of Central Information Commission, whereby, it has directed the Public Information Officer of Tihar Jail to pay compensation to the respondent for keeping him under extra detention. The CIC, by the impugned order, had also directed the petitioner to frame policy/guideline/regulation for a system of resolving disputes regarding remission and paying compensation to prisoners who lost their personal liberty due to extra detention.

The Court observed that perusal of the order, prima facie, showed that the CIC has exceeded the jurisdiction conferred upon it by the Right to Information Act, 2005. Therefore, the operation of order was stayed till the next date of hearing. [Public Information Officer, Tihar Jail v. Om Prakash Gandhi, Writ Petition No. 621 of 2017, decided on January 24, 2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Showing concern over the fate of the student who has been deprived of admission to the MBBS course, despite he or she being meritorious, vigilant and diligent and thereby abandoning the path of recalcitrance and eventually being found flawless, is forced to suffer non-admission to the course for which he had aspired for and found suitable because of lapses committed either by the counselling authority or the administrating authority intrinsically connected with the process of admission; the bench of Dipak Misra and R.F. Nariman, JJ said that when the courts have gone to the extent of saying that for the fault of the court, the litigant should not suffer, it is unimaginable that for the fault of the administrators or the counselling body or for some kind of evil designer, grant of compensation should be regarded as the lone remedy.

Relying upon the 2-judge bench decision in Chandigarh Administration v. Jasmine Kaur, (2014) 10 SCC 521, the Medical Council of India contended that grant of compensation is the only possible remedy. The Court hence said that the aforementioned decision requires re-consideration by a larger bench as the redressal of a fundamental right, if one deserves to have, cannot be weighed in terms of grant of compensation only. Grant of compensation may be an additional relief. Confining it to grant of compensation as the only measure would defeat the basic purpose of the fundamental rights which the Constitution has conferred so that the said rights are sustained. It would be inapposite to recognize the right, record a finding that there is a violation of the right and deny the requisite relief. A young student should not feel that his entire industry to get himself qualified in the examination becomes meaningless because of some fault or dramatic design of certain authorities and they can get away by giving some amount as compensation. It may not only be agonizing but may amount to grant of premium either to laxity or evil design or incurable greed of the authorities. [S. Krishna Sradha v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 66, decided on 19.01.2017]

 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): An amount of Rs 1 lakh has been imposed upon Malaysian Airline System Berhad as compensation for delay and damages caused to a consignment which was airlifted by the Airlines from Los Angeles to India.

Facts of the case are that the complainant Firm had engaged the services of the Malaysian Airlines for airlifting of the consignment from Los Angeles to India on November 12, 1999 but only a part of the consignment arrived in India on its scheduled date of December 15, 1999, and the other part came on January 6, 2000, in a damaged condition. Alleging deficiency on the part of Malaysian Airlines, complainant Firm filed complaint before Delhi State Commission. After hearing both the parties and considering factual aspects of the case, State Commission partly allowed the complaint and directed the Airlines to pay Rs. 75,000/- towards loss incurred on account of damage and delay and Rs.1,00,000/- for harassment, mental agony etc. Against the said order, an appeal was filed before the National Commission by the Airlines.

After perusal of material on record and hearing the submissions of both the parties, NCDRC modified the order passed by the State Commission and observed that as complainant Firm had not adduced any evidence to prove damage by pleading what was the price on the due date of delivery and what was the price on the actual date of delivery, it is appropriate to reduce compensation to Rs. 50,000/- against Rs. 75,000/- allowed by the State Commission towards damage caused to the goods as well delay in delivery of consignment. While partly allowing the appeal, National Commission further noted that as no reasons have also not been given by the State Commission for allowing compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- towards harassment, mental agony, etc., it would be appropriate to reduce aforesaid amount of Rs. 1,00,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- to meet the ends of justice, as admittedly there was delay in delivery of consignment. [Malaysian Airline System Berhad v. Dentply India (P) Ltd., 2017 SCC OnLine NCDRC 3, decided on January 5, 2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Madras: The Court while examining a petition filed for compensation by the petitioner in view of severity of the petitioner’s injury, from the first respondent in connection with the crime under Sections 294(b) and 307  IPC, the Bench comprising of V. Bharathidasan, J., directed the petitioner/victim to claim compensation from the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) under the Victim Compensation Scheme (VCS) framed under Section 357-A  CrPC. The petitioner/victim  moved the court seeking compensation in view of the severity of her injury, expenditure with regard to grafting and reconstruction surgery, physical and mental pain and for disability due to the acid attack thrown on her by attacker, Vennila, as result of frequent quarrels and even after taken extensive treatment the petitioner/victim has totally lost her sight.

The Court directed petitioner/victim to make an application before the District Legal Services Authority since petitioner/victim had not filed any application seeking compensation under the Victim Compensation Scheme framed under Section 357-A  CrPC, within a period of three weeks from the date of judgment. The Court also issued direction to DLSA to consider the application of victim and pass orders for recommending the petitioner’s case for compensation within a period of 12 weeks thereafter. [Muthulakshmi v. The District Collector, Ramnad District, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 10398, decided on 22nd November, 2016]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): NCDRC has upheld an order of Rajasthan State Commission vide which Rs 25,000 has been imposed upon Postal Department for delay in delivery of an application form of a man for the post of a Civil Judge which made him miss the chance. An additional amount of Rs 10,000 has also been awarded to the complainant as litigation expenses.

Earlier, the complainant sent an application form for the post of a Civil Judge through speed post from a post office at Mandawar in Rajasthan to the High Court Registrar of Madhya Pradesh. It was alleged by the complainant that the said application form reached the destination two days after the last date, and was rejected on this ground. Seeking damages, complainant approached District Forum but his complaint was dismissed. Aggrieved by the said order, the complainant preferred an appeal before the State Commission.

State Commission observed that the negligence was committed by the India Post Department in the matter as the dak of the complainant which should have been received on the fourth day, was received on the sixth day by the addressee and directed the Department to pay Rs 25,000 as compensation and Rs 10,000 as litigation expenses to the complainant. Postal Department preferred a revision petition against the order of State Commission before NCDRC. It was averred that the Postal Department was exempted from any responsibility under Section 6 of the Post Office Act, 1898 in case of any loss, wrong delivery or delay and if the concerned officer, has committed the act willfully, only then the Department could be held responsible. It was pleaded that the Postal Department discharges a sovereign act and, therefore, the services rendered by the Postal Department are constitutional in nature and they cannot be made liable under Section 6 of the Post Office Act, 1898.

After hearing both the parties, NCDRC observed that the only stand of the Postal Department in this case was that the relevant records were not available and therefore the reasons cannot be ascertained. It was further observed that such attitude of the Postal Department was a deliberate attempt to hide the real reason for the wrong doing of its employee(s) in not delivering the letter within the norms prescribed by the Postal Department itself. “Such conduct of the Postal Department, leads to irresistible conclusion that there was a willful default on the part of its official(s) concerned, which is not being disclosed and, therefore, the case of the Complainant falls within the ambit of the exception carved out under Section 6 of the said Act. Having held so, and there being a clear deficiency of service under Section 2(1)(g) of the CPA, 1986, I am of the opinion that a reasonable compensation of Rs.  25,000 awarded by the State Commission is completely justified,” noted the Commission while dismissing the revision petition of the Postal Department. [Department of Post v. Gajanand Sharma, 2016 SCC OnLine NCDRC 1864, decided on December 8, 2016]