Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of B.S. Walia, J. allowed an appeal filed against the order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) awarding a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to the respondent even when the offending vehicle involved in the accident was unidentified.

The appeal was preferred by the insurance company- United India Insurance Co. Ltd., who was made liable to pay the above-mentioned amount of compensation to the respondent. The appeal required adjudication upon a single question- whether liability can be imposed under Section 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, in case the offending vehicle is unidentified? Learned counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that a separate provision, Section 161, existed for the cases where the offending vehicle involved in the accident is unidentified.

In order to settle the issue, the High Court perused both the Sections. The Court observed that Section 140 makes provision for the award of compensation amounting to Rs. 50,000 in cases of death or permanent disability, where the offending vehicle is identified. However, for hit and run cases, where the offending vehicle remains unidentified, Section 161 comes into play. That Section fixes the compensation amount at Rs. 25,000 in case of death and Rs. 12,500 in case of grievous hurt. Holding that there is a clear-cut difference in the provisions applicable to the two situations, the Court answered the question framed hereinabove, in negative. The appeal was accordingly allowed and the order of the MACT was set aside. [United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Kuldip Kaur, 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 843, dated 01-06-2018 ]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: A Single Judge Bench of  S. Talapatra J., addressed a petition seeking claim under the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 by stressing upon the categories of employees constituted under the definition of ‘employee’ under Section 2(dd) of the said Act.

The deceased for whom the compensation was being claimed by the appellant was an employee working under the ‘MGNREGA’ scheme. The Appellant has claimed the compensation under Section 4 of the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 stating that her husband died in the course of the employment as he suffered from chest pain during the time he was working on the land under the ‘MGNREGA’ scheme.

The Commissioner of Employee’s Compensation further in regard to providing clarity on the point of whether the employee was entitled to claim compensation under the above-referred act observed the definition of ‘employee’ under Section 2(dd) of the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923, and in accordance to that in his opinion an employee under the scheme of ‘MGNERGA’ will not be covered under the said definition of ‘employee’ under the said Act.

Therefore, the Hon’ble Court, concluded by appreciating the submissions of the learned counsel of the parties along with no discrepancy on the submissions placed by the Commissioner of Employee’s stated that there is no material found which could cover the deceased under the definition of ‘employee’ in Section 2(dd) of the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 which lead to the dismissal of the appeal. [Rirasatnai Halam v. State of Tripura,2018 SCC OnLine Tri 115, order dated 12-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: An appeal filed by the Executive Engineer against the award of compensation passed in favour of Respondent 2, was dismissed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjeev Kumar, J.

Respondent 2 (an iron smith) was engaged as a labour by Respondent 3 (contractor) who worked with the appellant. A compressor rod was given by the appellant to Respondent 2 to carry out repairs. While working on the compressor rod, Respondent 2 sustained a certain injury which resulted in his arm getting amputated and thereby he suffered permanent disability. He preferred a claim petition before the Commissioner under Workmen Compensation Act, who awarded him a compensation amounting to Rs. 2,97,000 along with interest at 6% per anum. The appellant challenged the award contending inter alia that there was no privity of contract between him and Respondent 2, therefore, liability to compensate him could not be fastened on the appellant.

The High Court, after duly considering the submissions made by the appellant, observed that his contention was fallacious. The Court noted that it was undisputed that Respondent 3, who had engaged Respondent 2 as a labour, worked with the appellant as a contractor. Respondent 2 was engaged to carry out the work of the appellant. Furthermore, the job of repairing the iron rod, that was the direct reason for the injury, was assigned to Respondent 2 by the Junior Engineer of the appellant. The Court categorically stated that the appellant being a principal employer was liable to pay compensation to Respondent 2 on account of permanent disablement suffered by him during and in the course of his employment with the appellant. In such circumstances, the High Court dismissed the appeal holding the appellant liable to compensate Respondent 2 as awarded by the Commissioner. [Executive Engineer, PWD v. Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation,  2018 SCC OnLine J&K 367, dated 04-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division: In a landmark judgment delivered by M.J. Lowe J., in the case of a minor being attacked by dog and claiming compensation in that reference, the High Court granted compensation.

The minor was below the age of 10 years and was attacked by the dog owned by the defendant while sitting on the brick wall separating the two properties. In a statement by defendant it was stated on his part that he had earlier warned the minor to not climb the wall in his absence showing his concern to not be able to control the dog (Bull Mastiff).

The Court analysed the case by discussing the points of law thoroughly. To start with “The Law of Delict in South Africa” wherein it has been explained, “the actio de pauperie for harm caused by domestic animals” in which owner of a domestic animal is strictly liable for the harm caused to another person in contradiction to its nature. For the said act the owner of the animal who had caused injury or damage will be liable. Liability under this point of law “actio de pauperie” would apply only when the animal must have acted “contra naturam sui generis.” The interpretation of “contra naturam” rule is wide in nature and suitability to the case.

The Court further dealt with the issue of provocation in which it was observed that on record there was nothing to indicate in the behaviour of the minor that constituted to any particular external stimuli for the dog to act “contra naturam”. Though, on the other hand it was also analysed by the Court that any reasonable dog would not have attacked a child simply on his climbing the boundary wall, which clearly puts the dog into the arena of acting “contra naturam”. Further it was also stated that the action of “actua de pauparie” is a special action limited to those who are lawfully on the defendant’s land when bitten and dealing with the present case, it was held that the child has a “pauperian” claim even if found without direct lawful entitlement. [Phildentia Kohl v. Charl Grobbelaar; Case No. 4962/2017; dated 22.05.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Madan B. Lokur and NV Ramana, JJ directed the the Ministry of Rural Development to prepare an urgent time bound mandatory program to make the payment of wages and compensation to the workers in consultation with the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. The Bench said:

“This is not only in the interest of the workers who have expended unskilled manual labour but also in furtherance of the rule of law which must be followed in letter and spirit.”

On the issue pertaining to the delay in payment of wages and compensation to the beneficiaries under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (Act) and the Scheme framed thereunder, the Court said that in terms of the Act and Schedule II thereof a worker is entitled to payment of wages within a fortnight of the date on which the work was done, failing which the worker is entitled to the compensation as prescribed in paragraph 29 of the Schedule II of the Act. Stating that one entity cannot pass on the burden to another and vice versa, the Court said that the burden of compliance is on the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations as well as the Central Government.

On Central Government’s argument that it has no responsibility after the second signature is placed on the Fund Transfer Orders, the Court said:

“The Central Government cannot be seen to shy away from its responsibility or taking advantage of a person who has been placed in the unfortunate situation of having to seek employment under the Act and then not being paid wages for the unskilled manual labour within the statutorily prescribed time. The State Governments and Union Territory Administrations may be at fault, but that does not absolve the Central Government of its duty.”

Stating that delays are simply not acceptable, the bench said that the law requires and indeed mandates payment of wages not later than a fortnight after the date on which the work was done by the worker or labourer. Any reason for the delay in receiving wages is not at all the concern of the worker. He or she is entitled to get the due wages within a fortnight of completion of the work. It was hence held that if there are any administrative inefficiencies or deficiencies or laxity, it is entirely for the State Government and the Ministry of Rural Development to sort out the problem. [Swaraj Abhiyan (VI) v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 578, decided on 18.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jammu And Kashmir: While deciding upon the present writ petition wherein the petitioners have prayed that the respondents be asked to not cause any sort of interference into their land and should be desisted on that ground, the Single Bench of M.K Hanjura, J. dismissed the petition and held that the attached annexure by the petitioners spells out that the land in question is State land and is in the illegal occupation of the petitioners.

As per the facts, the petitioners are the owners in possession of the land situated at Village Zainakote, Srinagar along with a chunk of the State land “Khalisa Sarkar” is also in their possession for the last 23 years, which further has vested in them under the “Roshni Act” subsequently applying for vesting of ownership rights before the respondents. The petitioners state that they are being asked to vacate the land without being granted any compensation in return for which they are liable.

The High Court perused the records and found favour with submissions of Respondent 2 Chief Engineer, PWD who stated that no land has been acquired by his office for any purpose which leads to no question of payment of compensation to the petitioners. Respondents 3 and 4 stated that the compensation amount in lieu of the land acquired for the purpose of widening of National Highway was released in favour of the State. As per the revenue extracts obtained in respect of the said land, petitioners do not have any proprietary right over the said land and in compliance to the revenue records the said land has been shown to be in the occupation of the department of public work.

Therefore, the petition was found to be on no merits and deserved to be dismissed as Annexure (p1) attached to the petition is an extract of Girdawari relating to the land on which the petitioners lay their claim, and the said annexure states that petitioners are in illegal occupation of the land and for which they cannot seek any compensation. [Syed Manzoor Ahmad v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 256, dated 23-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vibhu Bakhru, J., disposed of a petition before it impugning para 3.2 of the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) dated 06.08.2010 issued by the DGCA. The petitioner herein was aggrieved by the airline denying boarding to him on account of overbooking.

The petitioner claimed that para 3.2 of the impugned CAR permits overbooking of flights which, according to the petitioner, cannot be permitted. The impugned para, on plain reading revealed that the para merely recognizes the practice (of overbooking) followed by some airlines and provides for compensation to inconvenienced passengers. The paragraph does not permit any airline to carry out the practice, neither does the practice gain any force of law by virtue of the CAR. It was further clarified that the impugned paragraph, in no way, affected any consumer redressal action preferred by aggrieved passengers, and thus, did not limit compensation. Petition dismissed. [Pallav Mongia v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 7006, decided on 02.02.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Court was deciding the issue relating to interpretation of section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and section 31 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, AK Goel and MM Shantanagoudar, JJ decided the following questions:

  1. What is the meaning of the expression ‘paid’/ ‘tender’ in Section 24 of the Act of 2013 and section 31 of the Act of 1894?
    The word ‘paid’ in section 24 of the Act of 2013 has the same meaning as ‘tender of payment’ in section 31(1) of the Act of 1894. They carry the same meaning and the expression ‘deposited’ in section 31(2) is not included in the expressions ‘paid’ in section 24 of the Act of 2013 or in ‘tender of payment’ used in section 31(1) of the Act of 1894. The words ‘paid’/tender’ and ‘deposited’ are different expressions and carry different meanings within their fold.
  2. Whether non-deposit of compensation in court under section 31(2) of the Act of 1894 results into a lapse of acquisition under section 24(2) of the Act of 2013? In section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 in the expression ‘paid,’ it is not necessary that the amount should be deposited in court as provided in section 31(2) of the Act of 1894. Non-deposit of compensation in court under section 31(2) of the Act of 1894 does not result in a lapse of acquisition under section 24(2) of the Act of 2013.
  3. What are the consequences of non-deposit in Court especially when compensation has been tendered and refused under section 31(1) of the Act of 1894 and section 24(2) of the Act of 2013? Due to the failure of deposit in court, the only consequence at the most in appropriate cases may be of a higher rate of interest on compensation as envisaged under section 34 of the Act of 1894 and not lapse of acquisition.
  4. Whether such persons after refusal can take advantage of their wrong/conduct?
    Once the amount of compensation has been unconditionally tendered and it is refused, that would amount to payment and the obligation under section 31(1) stands discharged and that amounts to discharge of obligation of payment under section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 also and it is not open to the person who has refused to accept compensation, to urge that since it has not been deposited in court, acquisition has lapsed. Claimants/landowners after refusal, cannot take advantage of their own wrong and seek protection under the provisions of section 24(2) of 2013 Act.
  5. Mode of taking physical possession as contemplated under section 24(2) of the Act of 1894.
    The normal mode of taking physical possession under the land acquisition cases is drawing of Panchnama.
  6. Whether section 24 of Act of 2013 revives barred and stale claims?
    The provisions of section 24 of the Act of 2013, do not revive barred or stale claims such claims cannot be entertained.
  7. Whether the conscious omission referred to in paragraph 11 of the judgment in Shree Balaji Nagar Residential Association v. State of Tamil Nadu [(2015) 3 SCC 353] makes any substantial difference to the legal position with regard to the exclusion or inclusion of the period covered by an interim order of the Court for the purpose of determination of the applicability of Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act?
    Provisions of section 24(2) do not intend to cover the period spent during litigation and when the authorities have been disabled to act under section 24(2) due to the final or interim order of a court or otherwise, such period has to be excluded from the period of five years as provided in section 24(2) of the Act of 2013. There is no conscious omission in section 24(2) for the exclusion of a period of the interim order. There was no necessity to insert such a provision. The omission does not make any substantial difference as to legal position.
  8. Whether the principle of “actus curiae neminem gravabit”, namely act of the Court should not prejudice any parties would be applicable in the present case to exclude the period covered by an interim order for the purpose of determining the question with regard to taking of possession as contemplated in Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act?
    The principle of “actus curiae neminem gravabit” is applicable including the other common law principles for determining the questions under section 24 of the Act of 2013. The period covered by the final/ interim order by which the authorities have been deprived of taking possession has to be excluded. Section 24(2) has no application where Court has quashed acquisition.

[Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 100, decided on 08.02.2018]

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]