Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of P.R. Ramachandra Menon, J. while hearing a motor accident claims appeal, ruled that compensation towards ‘loss of consortium’ includes compensation for ‘loss of love and affection’.

The present appeal arises out of a motor accident claim petition filed by the appellant due to the death of his son while traveling in a taxi owned, driven and insured by respondent. Though the Tribunal found the accident to be solely attributable to the negligence of the driver it noted that the actual income of the deceased had not been substantiated properly. As such, taking Rs 1500 as notional monthly income, it awarded Rs 1,15,000 as compensation. The only challenge in the present appeal was in relation to the inadequacy of compensation awarded by the Tribunal.

The  High Court noted that though the actual income had not been proven, the factum of employment was brought on record. As such, it was of the view that fixation of notional monthly income as Rs 1500 was very low and the same was doubled and refixed as Rs 3000 inclusive of future prospects. The court also refixed the compensation payable towards loss of love and affection and loss of estate.

The appellant submitted that he was also entitled to compensation towards loss of consortium. The court noted that there are three kinds of compensation payable towards loss of consortium being; (i) spousal consortium, (ii) parental consortium, and (iii) filial consortium. In case of accidental death of a child, parents are entitled to filial consortium as a compensation for loss of love, affection, care, and companionship of the deceased child.

Relying on the judgment in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the court observed that compensation awarded towards consortium is primarily compensation for loss of love, affection, care, and companionship. Thus, the appeal was allowed in part holding that since compensation for loss of love and affection had already been awarded in the present case, therefore no further compensation was payable under a separate head of ‘loss of consortium’. [K. Karthiyani Amma v. M. Sukumar,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 4144, decided on 19-09-2018]

 

Case BriefsDistrict Court

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Ganjam Behrampur: The Bench comprising of Karuna Kar Nayak (President) and Sri Purna Chandra Tripathy (Member), partly allowed a case filed against O.P i.e. “AMAZON”  for ‘deficiency in services’.

In the present matter, the complainant Supriyo Mahapatra had filed a consumer complaint under Section 12 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for ‘deficiency in services’ against AMAZON.  The complainant had placed an order for an ASUS X450-cawx214d 14 INCH Laptop for an amount of Rs 190/- against the original price of Rs. 23,499/- by offering a discount of Rs 23,309/-, on placing the order for the same with the option of ‘cash on delivery’, the complainant received a confirmation on his e-mail id and further on acceptance of the order, the complainant was assured with its delivery of the product soon. Though in accordance with the facts as stated, the complainant’s order was cancelled after a couple of hours and he was intimated for the same through a phone call from the customer service department of O.P. Further, the O.P. in response to the reason for cancellation stated that there was some ‘Pricing issue’ due to which the order stands cancelled.

The primary issue that arose in the matter was due to no-response on behalf of the O.P after continuous efforts made by the complainant through customer care service and e-mail in regard to a valid reason for cancellation of his order, which finally forced the complainant to issue a legal notice, which again was not responded by the O.P.

For the above-stated submissions, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum stated that the “O.P. was not only negligent in rendering proper service to the complainant but also involved in unfair trade practice; as such we hold there is deficiency in service by O.P.”. Therefore, complainant’s case was partly allowed and O.P. was directed to pay Rs 10,000 for mental agony as compensation and Rs 2,000/- for the cost of litigation. [Supriyo Ranjan Mahapatra v. Amazon Development Centre India (P) Ltd., Consumer Complaint No. 42 of 2015, Order dated 05-09-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: The National Commission, through a Bench comprising of Anup Kr Thakur, Presiding Member and C. Vishwanath, Member allowed the revision petition and set aside the order passed by the State Commission in the present case.

The present case was filed by the respondents in the District Commission against the petitioners for an award of compensation to the tune of Rs 50,000 for the physical, mental and financial pain which was inflicted and Rs 20,000 legal expenses which had been incurred. The respondents had given a laptop for repair to the petitioners, who after having given an assurance of the timely repair of the laptop, subsequently did not respond to the correspondences of the respondents, nor did they complete the repair. The District Commission gave the respondents Rs 15,000 in compensation and Rs 5,000 for legal expenses, to which a revision petition was filed to the State Commission. The State Commission dismissed the appeal due to non-appearance of the petitioners. In the present revision petition before the National Commission, the petitioners have argued that due to certain pressing reasons, such as the resolution passed by the Bar, calling for all lawyers to abstain from work, illness, and incorrect date being mentioned on the cause list by the reader, the petitioners were not able to appear before the State Commission.

The National Commission held that the non-appearance before the State Commission was not deliberate and, as there were sufficient reasons for the absence of the petitioners, it is in the interest of justice that he be heard, otherwise his position in law will be severely prejudiced. Accordingly, it was decreed by the National Commission that the order passed by the State Commission be set aside, and the State Commission was to hear both the parties in the appeal and decide on merits. [Multycare Solutions v. Malay Bhaumik, Revision Petition No. 1971 of 2018, order dated 03-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“The subject of negligence in the context of medical profession necessarily calls for treatment with a difference.”

-CJ R.C. Lahoti (as he then was)

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Abhay Manohar Sapre and Vineet Saran, JJ. in a case of “medical negligence” as alleged by the respondents in the present case allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order passed by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission on no merits being laid down in favour of alleged medical negligence.

The present appeal was filed in consequence of the impugned order passed by the National Commission. The facts and points to be noted in the present case were that the appellant was a doctor with expertise in gall bladder surgery and he was alleged by Respondent 1 to have conducted a gall bladder surgery on Respondent 1 without her consent, which she had claimed to be given only for Laparoscopic surgery. On the grounds as mentioned above, Respondent 1 approached the State Commission claiming negligence on the part of the appellant as right after the year 1996, in 1997, the respondent had to get admitted to a hospital in Delhi and suffered from various other ailments which occurred due to the negligence on the part of appellant giving reference to the conventional gall bladder surgery which she had not agreed to. On refusal of any compensation from the State Commission, Respondent 1 approached the National Commission which awarded her compensation setting aside the State Commission’s order.

The above-stated matrix of contentions and a brief history of the present case led the appellant to file an appeal by special leave to appeal.

The Supreme Court, on perusal of the facts, evidence and placing reliance on the Bolam’s Test as suggested in the case of Bolam v. Friern Hospital Management Committee, [1957] 1 WLR 582, in which it was held that a “physician would not assure the patient of full recovery in every case. A surgeon cannot and does not guarantee that the result of surgery would invariably be beneficial, much less to the extent of 100% for the person operated on.”; the Apex Court concluded its decision while briefing out some important pointers of the case in order to deliver justice and clarity to comprehend the concept of medical negligence.

Therefore, the Court stated that the appellant-doctor was a qualified senior doctor with requisite knowledge and skill to perform the surgery of gall bladder. The said step of conducting the gall bladder surgery while conducting the laparoscopic surgery was taken due to the condition observed while doing the latter. On the occurrence of such emergent situation, the appellant took the consent of the Respondent 1’s husband on explaining him the whole situation. Further, the Court observed that Clause 4 of the Consent Form which was duly signed by Respondent 1, empowered the doctor to perform additional operation or procedure in the event of emergency.

Hence, it was not an unauthorized act of the appellant and he could legally perform on the basis of above-mentioned Clause 4 of the Consent Form on which Respondent 1 had duly signed. Adding to the above opinion of the Bench, it also stated that no medical evidence of any expert was adduced to prove the allegation of negligence by Respondent 1. The appeal was allowed by restoring the State Commission’s order and setting aside the National Commission’s order on finding no merits in their decision. [S.K. Jhunjhunwala v. Dhanwanti Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1721, decided on 01-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Rajendra Menon, CJ and V. Kameswar Rao, J. allowed a letters patent appeal against the judgment of the writ court whereby the appellants petition for compensation of his son was dismissed.

On the fateful day, the appellant and his 14-years old son had gone to Sanjay Park maintained by Respondent 1 — East Delhi Municipal Corporation, where while playing cricket the son came in contact with an electric wire lying there and was electrocuted which resulted in his death. In the action brought for compensation by the appellant, the respondents started to shift the liability on each-other, Respondent 2 being BSES, the company responsible to maintain the electricity system in the said park. The writ court dismissed the action holding that there was a dispute as to who was responsible and such a question could only be looked into by the trial court.

The High Court was of the view that approach of the writ court was not right. The Court was of the view that the negligence on the part of respondents was writ large in the improper manner of maintaining the electricity system. It was of the view that the death of deceased was caused due to negligence of the respondents. In such situation, according to the High Court, the writ court ought not to dismiss the valid claim for compensation brought by the appellant. Holding thus, the only question left was of assessing the amount of compensation to be awarded to the appellant for the death of his 14-years old son. After applying the proper formula, the Court assessed the amount of compensation at Rs 27,38,607.81 along with interest. At first, both the respondents shall each pay 50% of the amount and thereafter they could work a settlement amongst themselves. The appeal was disposed of in the manner above. [Rajeev Singhal v. MCD, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 11518, dated 27-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: A writ petition for the claim of compensation in a medical negligence case was filed before a Single Judge Bench comprising of Ajay Rastogi, CJ.

Facts of the case are that the petitioner is the father of the deceased child who incurred a head injury. The child was shifted immediately to a hospital but after three days after the accident, he was moved to AGMC & G.B.P. Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Petitioner alleged medical negligence in criminal complaint after which FIR was registered. For purpose of examining the same, a committee was constituted by the order of Director of Health Services. The report of committee examined the matter and concluded that treatment given to the patient was in accordance with the existing protocol and no negligence was found on part of the doctors involved in the treatment of deceased.

 The High Court was of the view that under limited scope of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India it is not possible to examine the allegation of medical negligence as the parties have not yet provided evidence in respect of their respective claims. Therefore, Court observed the quantification of compensation to be out of their scope due to the above reasons and the writ petition was dismissed. [Krishna Sarkar v. Government of Tripura,2018 SCC OnLine Tri 209, Order dated 13-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. disposed of an appeal filed challenging the compensation awarded by the Punjab and Haryana High Court under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The deceased was riding on a bike when he was hit by the vehicle driven by Respondent 3 which resulted in his death. The claim petition filed by dependants of the deceased under Section 166 of MV Act was allowed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which was further enhanced by the High Court on an appeal preferred by the dependants. Aggrieved thereby, the insurance company filed the instant civil appeal.

The Supreme Court perused the orders of the MACT as well as the High Court and found that the order needs to be modified. The Court while disposing of the appeal, inter alia, added, to the already existing heads, two more heads of compensation. Relying on National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the Court held that Loss of Consortium and Loss of Estate are other conventional heads under which compensation is awarded in the event of death. In legal parlance, consortium is a compendious term which encompasses spousal consortium, parental consortium, and filial consortium. The Court observed that the MV Act being a social welfare and beneficial legislation, it was duty-bound to provide just compensation irrespective of whether plea in that behalf is raised or not by the claimant. In exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Court awarded Rs 15,000 towards Loss of Estate. In regard to consortium, it was observed that 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. Reference, in this connection, was made to Rajesh v. Rajbir Singh, (2013) 9 SCC 54. Following the principles of awarding compensation under Loss of Consortium as laid down in Pranay Sethi, the Court awarded a compensation of Rs 80,000 as compensation towards loss of filial consortium. The appeal was accordingly disposed of. [Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Nanu Ram,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1546, decided on 18-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: An appeal was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Harinder Singh Sidhu, J., filed against an award of Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, where appellants were made jointly and severally liable to pay compensation instead of Insurance Company.

The facts of the case are that an accident took place between a motorcycle and a bus due to which one person died. The brother of the deceased filed FIR under Sections 279, 304-A of Indian Penal Code. The Tribunal awarded compensation concluding the accident to be a result of rash and negligent driving of bus driver. While imposing liability Tribunal found the bus to be insured and was of the view that under Section 6 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 no driver can validly hold two driving license and hence driver and its owner cannot escape liability by first showing a fake license and then another license.

Appellant contended that if one license is found to be fake then the question of the existence of two licenses cannot be sustained. Whereas respondent agreed with the findings of Tribunal. High Court was of the view that the validity of driving license was not checked by the respondent i.e. insurer company, therefore, the same is presumed to be valid. Court viewed that onus to prove the genuineness of driving license is on respondent and as the respondent failed to show that the second license was also fake it cannot escape its liability. Though a provision is there to that effect that a person cannot hold more than one driving license it cannot be said that on finding one license to be fake another license cannot be valid. Therefore, the appeal was allowed and insurance company was made liable to pay the compensation amount. [Matan Shiv Shakti Co. Op. Tpt, Society Ltd. v. Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Co., 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 1295, decided on 11-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Life commands self-respect and dignity.

                                        -Dipak Misra, CJ

Supreme Court: The bench comprising of Dipak Misra, CJ and A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ. awarded a compensation of Rs 50 lakhs to the appellant while disposing of an appeal filed against the judgment of a Division Bench of Kerala High Court whereby the decision of the Single Judge quashing the order of State Government declining to take action against the erring police officers concerned was reversed.

In January 1994, a criminal case was registered against one Mariam Rasheeda, a Maldivian National under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Paragraph 7 of the Foreigners Order. While being interrogated by Kerala Police and Intelligence Bureau, she made certain confessions which led to registration of another criminal case under Sections 3 and 4 of the Indian Official Secrets Acts, 1923 alleging that certain official secrets and documents of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had been leaked out by scientists of ISRO. In November 1994, investigation of both the cases was taken over by the Special Investigation Team headed by Respondent 1. Pursuant to this, the appellant –  erstwhile scientist at ISRO – was arrested along with other persons. In December 1994, the investigation was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. After the investigation, the CBI submitted a report before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ernakulam, under Section 173(2) CrPC stating that the evidence collected indicated that the allegations of espionage against the scientists at ISRO, including the appellant herein, were not proved and were found to be false. This report was accepted vide court’s order and all the accused were discharged. In June 1996, State of Kerala, being dissatisfied with the CBI report, issued a notification and decided to conduct re-investigation of the case by the State Police. Subsequently, the Supreme Court in K. Chandrasekhar v. State of Kerala, (1998) 5 SCC 223 quashed the notification of the State of Kerala for re-investigation holding that the said notification was against good governance and consequently, all accused were freed of charges. Another writ petition was filed before the High Court wherein a Single Judge quashed the order dated 29.06.2011 passed by the State of Kerala whereby the Kerala Government had decided not to take any disciplinary action against the members of the SIT (erring police officers) and consequently remitted the matter to the State of Kerala for reconsideration and passing further orders within three months. The said decision was reversed by a Division Bench vide the order impugned. It was urged by the appellant that the prosecution launched against him by the Kerala police was malicious on account of two reasons. Firstly, the said prosecution had a catastrophic effect on his service career as a leading and renowned scientist at ISRO, thereby smothering his career, lifespan, savings, honour, academic work as well as self-esteem and consequently resulting in total devastation of the peace of his entire family which is an ineffaceable individual loss. Secondly, the irreparable and irremediable loss and setback caused to the technological advancement in Space Research in India.

The Supreme Court, at the outset, observed that to say the least, the delineation by the Division Bench was too simplistic. It was stated that the entire prosecution initiated by the State police was malicious and caused tremendous harassment and immeasurable anguish to the appellant. It wasn’t a case where the accused was kept under custody and, eventually, after trial, he was found not guilty. The State police was dealing with an extremely sensitive case and after arresting the appellant and some others, the State, on its own, transferred the case to CBI. After comprehensive enquiry, the closure report was filed. An argument was advanced by the respondents that the fault should be found with CBI but not with the State police, for it had transferred the case to the CBI. The said submission was noted only to be rejected. The criminal law was set in motion without any basis. It was initiated on some kind of fancy or notion. The liberty and dignity of the appellant which are basic to his human rights were jeopardized as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, he was compelled to face cynical abhorrence. According to the Court, such situation invited the public law remedy for grant of compensation for violation of the fundamental right envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution. In such a situation, it springs to life with immediacy. It is because life commands self-respect and dignity. The Court made references to D.K. Basu v. State of W.B., (1997) 1 SCC 416; Joginder Kumar v. State of U.P., (1994) 4 SCC 260; Kiran Bedi v. Committee of Enquiry, (1989) 1 SCC 494; etc. In the words of the Court, reputation of an individual is an insegregable facet of his right to life with dignity. In the final analysis, the Court held that it can be stated with certitude that the fundamental right of the appellant under Article 21 had been gravely affected. There could be no scintilla of doubt that the appellant, a successful scientist having national reputation, was compelled to undergo immense humiliation. The lackadaisical attitude of the State police to arrest anyone and put him in police custody made the appellant suffer the ignominy. The dignity of a person gets shocked when psycho-pathological treatment is meted out to him. A human being cries for justice when he feels that the insensible act has crucified his self-respect. Keeping in view the report of the CBI and the judgment in K. Chandrasekhar, The Court ordered the State to pay Rs 50 lakhs as compensation to the appellant. It was further held that the obtaining factual scenario calls for constitution of a Committee to find out ways and means to take appropriate steps against the erring officials. For the said purpose, the Court constituted a Committee which shall be headed by Justice D.K. Jain, a former Judge of Supreme Court. The Central Government and the State Government were directed to nominate one officer each so that apposite action could be taken. The Committee shall meet at Delhi and function from Delhi. However, it has option to hold meetings at appropriate place in the State of Kerala. The appeal was accordingly disposed of. [S. Nambi Narayanan v. Siby Mathews,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1500, decided on 14-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Hrishikesh Roy, CJ. and Jayasankaran Nambiar, J., framed suggestions with regard to fixing of compensation for flood-affected victims of the State of Kerala.

The writ petition by way of PIL was filed with regard to the absence of any specific and uniform criteria for ascertaining the adequate amount of compensation to be granted by the respondent to the flood-affected victims of the State. It has been highlighted that the Kerala State Legal Services Authority would act as a catalyst to this process by enhancing effective and equitable distribution of compensation among the victims.

The orders issued by the respondent under the Disaster Management Department marks for the preliminary compensation amount with respect to affected residential houses based on the level of inundation with respect to every individual house.

Henceforth the Court suggested that a uniform formula that takes into account such factors that are applicable in common to the different categories of persons must be applied. These factors shall include the level of inundation, the extent of holding of a person in that area and improvements made in the said holding etc. and shall be applied irrespective of nature of holding of the victim or his income level. The minimum compensation that was common to all victims shall be paid to the identified victim solely based on his claim presented with response to the published formula devoid of any further scrutiny as to its genuineness by the respondent. Further the victims shall be compensated with respect to their individual losses determined on case to case basis backed by a proof as to the amount of loss sustained by each victim and as a result it would ensure greater transparency with regard to this additional compensation plus the victims would be spared from running behind authorities for the same. Also, this additional compensation has to be decided to keep in consideration different categories of flood victims i.e. householders, businessman, farmers etc. based on nature and extent of the loss suffered by them.

Accordingly, the method to be adopted by the respondent in deciding the amount of compensation shall be submitted to the court within 10 days from the date of judgment.[P.K. Firoz v. State of Kerala, W.P (C) No. 29127 of 2018, order dated 04-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S.C. Dharmadhikari and B.P. Colabawalla, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed under Section 260-A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 against the order of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal wherein it was held that Section 194-LA was not applicable in case at hand.

The facts of the case were that the assessee Development Authority had acquired land from hutment dwellers and paid compensation for rehabilitation. The Assessing Officer passed an order under Sections 201(1) and 201(1-A). He was of firm opinion that there had been acquisition of immovable property and the assessee, while compensating the hutment dwellers, was liable to deduct tax at source (TDS) as per the provisions of Sections 194-L and 194-LA. The assessees carried the matter in appeal before the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) who held that the said sections were not applicable in the instant case. The decision was affirmed by ITAT. Aggrieved thus, the Revenue had filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and found that the order impugned did not require any interfere. The Court was of the view that the subject land always vested in the State. The hutment dwellers were encroaching squatters who had built illegal hutments on State land, they were trespassers. This being the case, there was no question of land being acquired by the assessee. It was an encroachment which was removed by the assessee and the encroachers were rehabilitated. This being the case, the Court was of the view that Sections 194-L or 194-LA had no application to the facts and circumstances of the case. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [CIT v. Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2374, dated 06-09-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench of N.V. Ramana and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ. allowed an appeal filed by the appellant (insurer) against the judgment and order of Tripura High Court whereby the insurer was directed to pay compensation to the respondents (legal representatives of the deceased) as awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, W.B.

On 20-5-2012, deceased Dilip Bhowmik was returning to his house driving his vehicle. Near the bridge of the Agartala Railway Station, he met with an accident and sustained grievous injuries. He was declared dead on arrival by the hospital. At the relevant time, the deceased was 43 years old. According to respondents, his monthly income was Rs 15,000. They filed a claim petition, pursuant to which the Tribunal passed an award granting compensation of Rs 10,57,800. Aggrieved by the same the insurer filed appeal before the High Court which accepted it’s contention that the deceased was not a third party. However, the High Court directed the insurer to pay the compensation with a rider that it should not be treated as a precedent. Aggrieved thus, the insurer preferred the present appeal.

The Supreme Court considered the submissions of the parties and perused the record. It was noted that it was an admitted position that the deceased was the owner-cum-driver of the vehicle in question. The accident occurred due to rash and negligent driving by the deceased. No other vehicle was involved in the accident. The deceased being the owner of the offending vehicle, was not a third party within the meaning of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Court referred to the decision in Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jhuma Saha, (2007) 9 SCC 263 and observed that a claimant cannot maintain a claim on the basis of his own fault or rash and negligent driving. Therefore, the respondents being legal representatives of the deceased could not have maintained the claim petition filed under Section 166 of the Act. The Court held that the High Court was not justified in directing the insurer to pay compensation determined by the Tribunal. However, the respondents were held entitled to the indemnification extended to personal accident of the deceased which was limited to Rs 2 lakhs under the contract of insurance. The appeal was disposed of in the terms above. [National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Ashalata Bhowmik,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1264, dated 31-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. allowed a writ petition filed for seeking a declaration that the acquisition proceedings under which the land of the petitioner was acquired have lapsed.

A notification was issued under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for acquisition of the subject land belonging to the petitioner. It was followed by a declaration under Section 6 vide which the subject land was finally acquired. An award of compensation to the petitioner was also rendered in 1985. However, the compensation was not paid till now. The petitioner submitted that since the compensation has not been tendered, the petitioners were entitled to a declaration that the acquisition proceedings have lapsed in terms of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

The High Court perused the record and considered submissions made by the parties. The Court found that there was no room for doubt that compensation had not been tendered to the petitioners, and thus, one of the two necessary ingredients of Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 was met. Furthermore, having regard to the fact that the award of compensation was announced more than five years prior to the commencement of the Act of 2013, the case of the petitioners was covered by Section 24(2). Thus, according to the Court, the petitioners were entitled to a declaration that the acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act were deemed to have lapsed. The order was made accordingly. [Satwant Singh v. Land and Building Department,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 10870, dated 27-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mangesh S. Patil, J. dismissed a husband’s challenge to the award of compensation to his divorced wife granted by the Additional Sessions Judge.

The appellant-husband and respondent-wife were married in 2003. Subsequently, they developed discord and the wife left the husband alleging harassment. The husband filed petition for restitution of conjugal rights which was allowed. However, even after that, the parties couldn’t live together. Thereafter, the husband filed a divorce petition on grounds of desertion by the wife. The said petition was allowed and the marriage between the parties was dissolved, which decree had become final. Subsequent to that, the wife filed an application for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC. The application was rejected by the Judicial Magistrate; however, on appeal, the Additional Session Judge allowed the same. Aggrieved by the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, the husband had filed the present petition.

The High Court perused the record and found that the facts stated above were the admitted position of the parties. Marriage between the parties was indeed dissolved by a decree of dissolution which had become final. The question before the  Court was whether, under Section 125 CrPC, the Court could grant maintenance to a wife who was divorced on grounds of desertion. For adjudication, the Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in Rohatash Singh v. Ramendri, 2000 (3) SCC 180  wherein it was held that even such a wife can claim maintenance under the section; however, it would be available to her only from the date on which decree for dissolution of marriage had been passed. Accordingly, the husband’s challenge to award of maintenance granted to the wife was dismissed. However, it was held that the wife would be entitled to maintenance only from the date of divorce decree, and not from the date of filing of an application under Section 125 as held by the Additional Sessions Judge. The petition was disposed of in the terms above. [Dnyaneshwar Eknath Kachre v. Sunita,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2243, dated 24-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sunil Gaur, J. allowed an appeal filed against the order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal whereby the compensation awarded was ordered to be recovered from the appellant – owner of the insured vehicle involved in an accident.

Brief facts of the case are that on the fateful day, one Manoj Sharma was driving his motorcycle when he was hit by a water tanker being driven in a rash and negligent manner. The said water tanker was owned by the appellant. As a result of the accident, said Manoj Sharma died. On filing of the claim petition by the claimants under Sections 166 and 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, the Tribunal awarded a compensation of Rs 11,83,400 (which was subsequently increased to Rs 23,79,000 in an appeal connected with the instant appeal). The owner of the insured vehicle challenged the order on the ground that the Tribunal had erroneously granted recovery rights to the insurer.

The High Court perused the record and found that the insured vehicle was granted contract for watering of plants by the Delhi Government. The Court also referred to Section 66 of the Act. In view of the Court, since the insured vehicle was plying for the purpose of watering plants and for conservancy purpose in pursuance of the contract awarded to the owner, so, in light of sub-section 3(b) of Section 66, the requirement of obtaining permit was dispensed with. In such circumstances, the grant of recovery rights to the insurer could not be sustained. The order impugned was accordingly modified while putting full liability on the insurer to pay the compensation. The appeal was disposed of in the terms above. [Jagjeet Singh v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., MAC Appeal No. 228 of 2013, dated 20-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of Bombay High Court passed in a claim under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The appellant, 29 years of age, suffered multiple injuries in an accident with a car driven by Respondent 1. He suffered permanent disability to the extent of 75%. The Courts below found, on evidence, that Respondent 1 was driving the car rashly and negligently. As a consequence, the appellant lost his livelihood – job of a driver. It is pertinent to note that before the accident, he was drawing a monthly salary of Rs 8500. The appellant filed a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which was partly allowed. However, dissatisfied with the quantum of compensation, an appeal was filed before the High Court which erroneously concluded that it would be just and appropriate if monthly income of the appellant was considered to be Rs 5000. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court, at the outset, observed that in cases of motor accidents leading to injuries and disablement, it is a well-settled principle that a person must be compensated for physical injuries as well as non-pecuniary losses suffered due to the injury. It was reiterated that the purpose of compensation under the Act is to fully and adequately restore the aggrieved to the position prior to the accident. Reference was also made to Yadav Kumar v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2010) 10 SCC 341; Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121 and Raj Kumar v. Ajay Kumar, (2011) 1 SCC 343. It was held that effect of permanent disability on the earning capacity of the injured must be considered while awarding the compensation. Considering all the facts, the Supreme Court computed the just compensation amounting to Rs 20,29,000 to be awarded to the appellant. The civil appeal was accordingly allowed. [Anant v. Pratap,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 1082, dated 21-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A.M. Khanwilkar, J. delivered the judgment for CJ Dipak Misra and himself whereby the matter concerning the liability of the insurer to pay compensation in a motor accident claim was remanded back to the Allahabad High Court.

Respondents 1-5 filed a claim before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal consequent to the death of one Sanoj Kumar. The deceased was going for morning walk when he was hit by a Bolero loader driven in a rash and negligent manner. The Tribunal absolved the liability of the insurer – Oriental Insurance Co. – on the finding that the driver of the said vehicle did not have a valid driving licence. However, the insurer was directed to compensation amount as determined with a liberty to recover the same from the owner and driver of the vehicle The said decision was affirmed by the High Court. Being aggrieved, the appellant – owner of the vehicle – filed the instant appeal.

The question before the Supreme Court was that ‘whether the Tribunal was right in holding that the insurer was not liable as the driver had a fake licence?’ The Court referred PEPSU Road Transport Corpn. v. National Insurance Co., (2013) 10 SCC 217 and Premkumari v. Prahlad Dev, (2008) 3 SCC 193. It was observed to be well established that if the owner was aware of the fact that the licence was fake and still permitted the driver to drive the vehicle, then the insurer’s liability would stand absolved. However, the mere fact that the driving licence is fake, per se, would not absolve the liability of the insurer. It was noticed that, in the present case, neither the Tribunal nor the High Court made any attempt to analyse as to whether the appellant was aware of the fake driving licence possessed by the driver. In such circumstances, the Court deemed it appropriate to relegate the parties before the High Court for fresh consideration of the matter only on question of liability of the owner or of the insurer to pay compensation. The appeal was disposed of in the terms above. [Ram Chandra Singh v. Rajaram,2018 SCC OnLine SC 959, dated 14-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Division Judge Bench of Akil Kureshi and BN Karia, JJ., addressed an appeal filed by the respondent company, challenging the judgment passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

The respondent had gone through an accident because of which he had received some bodily injuries. The vehicle of the respondent was insured by the insurance company.  The overall impact of disability was assessed to be 41% of the whole body.

The main dispute that arose was regarding the amount of compensation that was to be given as loss of amenities. It was contended by the Tribunal that the award of loss of income was basically in disguise of loss of amenities relating the same to the disability percentage of the salary of the injured. And since the income of the deceased remained the same despite injuries, loss of earning capacity cannot be claimed.

It was held that since a government employee may not immediately either lose the job or suffer reduction in salary and that per se would not imply that injury has not affected the earning capacity of the sufferer. Thus the award granted to the petitioner would be a modest sum for loss of amenities of life, the appeal disposed of accordingly.[New India Assurance Co. Ltd v. Dominic Sebastian Vezhuvalil,2018 SCC OnLine Guj 1307, Order dated 02-08-2018]

 

 

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Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta JJ., while delivering an order stated that the scheme proposed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) for compensating the victims of sexual assault, acid attack and other crimes require modification to “some extent”.

Background of the scheme:

The Supreme Court of India in Nipun Saxena v. Union of India, WP (C) No. 565 of 2012 had opined that “it would be appropriate if NALSA sets up a Committee of about 4 or 5 persons who can prepare Model Rules for Victim Compensation for sexual offences and acid attacks taking into account the submissions made by the learned Amicus. The learned Amicus, as well as the learned Solicitor General, have offered to assist the Committee as and when required. The Chairperson or the nominee of the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women should be associated with the Committee.”

Further, the committee had finalized the “Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes” and submitted the same before the Supreme Court on 24-04-2018.

As per NALSA’s scheme, the victim of gangrape in any part of the country would now get a minimum compensation of Rs 5 lakhs and up to a maximum of Rs 10 lakhs. Similarly, in case of rape and unnatural sexual assault, the victim would get a minimum of Rs 4 lakhs and maximum of Rs 7 lakhs as compensation. The scheme also says that victim of acid attacks, in case of disfigurement of face, would get a minimum compensation of Rs 7 lakhs, while the upper limit would be Rs 8 lakhs. In acid attack cases, if the injury was more than 50 percent, a minimum compensation of Rs 5 lakhs would be given, while the maximum would be Rs 8 lakhs.

Hence, in the present order, the Supreme Court stated that slight modifications in the above-mentioned scheme were required in order to embed the “child victims” under it as well.

[SOURCE: PTI]

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 ]