2015(5) ALL MR (JOURNAL) 45
(HIMACHAL PRADESH HIGH COURT)
RAJIV SHARMA & OM PRAKASH-VII, JJ.
Sanjay Verma & Ors. Vs. The New India Insurance Company Ltd. & Ors.
3rd December, 2014.
Motor Vehicles Act (1988), S.166 - Compensation - Assessment of income of housewife - Held, sort of attention which a housewife or mother pays to her family seems to be as much of a service, and probably more value to them than other kind of service conventionally so regarded - Income of Rs.3000/- pm, held, justified. (2001) 8 SCC 197 Ref. to. 2010 ALL SCR 1716 Rel. on. (Para 9)
Sarla Verma (Smt.) & Ors. Vs. Delhi Transport Corporation & Anr., 2009(4) ALL MR 429 (S.C.)=(2009) 6 SCC 121 [Para 6]
General Manager Kerala State Road Transport Corporation Vs. Susamma Thomas (Mrs.) & Ors., 2012 ALL SCR (O.C.C.) 71=(1994) 2 SCC 176 [Para 6]
Lata Wadhwa Vs. State of Bihar, (2001) 8 SCC 197 [Para 8]
Arun Kumar Agrawal & Anr. Vs. National Insurance Company & Ors., 2010 ALL SCR 1716=(2010) 9 SCC 218 [Para 9]
2. Claimants/appellants have preferred the instant First Appeal From Order under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act for enhancement of compensation awarded by learned Motor Accident Claims Tribunal/Additional District Judge, Court No.2, Ballia, vide its award dated 14.2.2012 passed in MAC Case No.79 /2011, on the ground that income of deceased has wrongly been assessed on notional basis at Rs.15,000/- per annum, whereas the claimants have categorically stated in their claim petition that the deceased was earning Rs.3000/- per month through domestic work.
3. Learned Counsel for the appellant has contended that the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is not just and adequate compensation. The Tribunal fell into error in assessing the income of the deceased as Rs. 15000/- per anum, which is a paltry sum. According to him, even a housewife can earn Rs. 100/- per day through domestic work and this very aspect of the matter has been ignored by the court below.
4. Learned counsel for the appellant lastly contended that Competent Authority under Minimum Wages Act has notified Rs.100/- per day as wages for unskilled labour with effect from 01.03.2008, therefore, also income of Rs.3000/- per month can safely be accepted as income of the deceased.
5. Learned counsel for respondent opposed the appeal and submitted that appellant merely asserted that the deceased Late Smt. Kanchan Devi was earning Rs.3000/- per month through domestic work but failed to produce any evidence in this regard. Therefore, learned Tribunal has rightly awarded compensation assuming deceased to be a house wife and her notional income to be Rs.15,000/- per annum.
6. Before proceeding further, we would like to refer the case of Sarla Verma (Smt.) and others v. Delhi Transport Corporation and another [(2009) 6 SCC 121] : [2009(4) ALL MR 429 (S.C.)], wherein the Apex Court answered the question relating to 'just compensation' in accident matters and while reiterating the principles laid down in the General Manager Kerala State Road Transport Corporation v. Susamma Thomas (Mrs.) and others: (1994) 2 SCC 176 : [2012 ALL SCR (O.C.C.) 71] and observed as under:-
"16. Compensation awarded does not become "just compensation" merely because the Tribunal considers it to be just. For example, if on the same or similar facts (say the deceased aged 40 years having annual income of Rs.45,000 leaving his surviving wife and child), one Tribunal awards Rs.10,00,000 another awards Rs.5,00,000, and yet another awards Rs.1,00,000, all believing that the amount is just, it cannot be said that what is awarded in the first case and the last case is just compensation. "Just compensation" is adequate compensation which is fair and equitable, on the facts and circumstances of the case, to make good the loss suffered as a result of the wrong, as far as money can do so, by applying the well-settled principles relating to award of compensation. It is not intended to be a bonanza, largesse or source of profit.
17. Assessment of compensation though involving certain hypothetical considerations, should nevertheless be objective. Justice and justness emanate from equality in treatment, consistency and thoroughness in adjudication, and fairness and uniformity in the decisionmaking process and the decisions. While it may not be possible to have mathematical precision or identical awards in assessing compensation, same or similar facts should lead to awards in the same range. When the factors/inputs are the same, and the formula/legal principles are the same, consistency and uniformity, and not divergence and freakiness, should be the result of adjudication to arrive at just compensation. In Susamma Thomas, this Court stated: (SCC p.185, para 16) "16. ... The proper method of computation is the multiplier method. Any departure, except in exceptional and extraordinary cases, would introduce inconsistency of principle, lack of uniformity and an element of unpredictability, for the assessment of compensation."
7. After careful examination of the material on record and the principles propounded in the aforesaid cases, we are of the view that income of Rs.15000/- per annum as determined by the Tribunal would mean that the deceased was earning a sum of Rs.1250/- per month, which is not acceptable because even for unskilled labour, wages prescribed under Minimum Wages Act was Rs.100/- per day in the year 2011. In Kemp and Kemp on Quantum of Damages (Special Edition 1986), the authors have identified various heads under which the husband can claim compensation on the death of his wife. These include loss of the wife's contribution to the household from her earnings, the additional expenses incurred or likely to be incurred by having the household run by a house-keeper or servant, instead of the wife, the expenses incurred in buying clothes for the children instead of having them made by the wife, and similarly having his own clothes mended or stitched elsewhere than by his wife, and the loss of that element of security provided to the husband where his employment was insecure or his health was bad and where the wife could go out and work for a living.
8. The Supreme Court in Lata Wadhwa Vs. State of Bihar : (2001) 8 SCC 197 has held that it is not possible to quantify any amount in lieu of the services rendered by the wife/mother to the family i.e. husband and children. However, for the purpose of award of compensation to the dependents, some pecuniary estimate has to be made of the services of housewife/mother. In that context, the term 'services' is required to be given a broad meaning and must be construed by taking into account the loss of personal care and attention given by the deceased to her children as a mother and to her husband as a wife. They are entitled to adequate compensation in lieu of the loss of gratuitous services rendered by the deceased. In that case, the Supreme Court accepted the income of deceased housewife to be Rs.5000/- per month and accordingly enhanced the compensation.
9. The aforesaid view has been reiterated by the Apex Court again in Arun Kumar Agrawal and Another Vs. National Insurance Company and Others : (2010) 9 SCC 218 : [2010 ALL SCR 1716] wherein it was observed that a wife and mother does not work to set hours and, still less, to rule. She is in constant attendance save for those hours when she is, if that is the fact, at work. During some of those hours she may well give the children instruction on essential matters to do with their upbringing and, possibly, with such things as their homework. This sort of attention seems to be as much of a service, and probably more value to them than the other kinds of service conventionally so regarded. The income of Rs.3000/- per month was held to be modest estimation even for house wife for multifarious services rendered by her.
10. In the circumstances, the income of deceased must be held to be Rs.3000/- per month. After deducting 1/3rd therefrom for own expenses of the deceased, loss of dependency would come to Rs.2000/-. Calculating thus, loss of dependency would come to Rs.4,32,000/- (2000x12x18). Learned Tribunal awarded Rs.2000/- for funeral expenses, Rs.2500/- for loss of estate and Rs.5000/- to husband for loss of consortium. Thus, a sum of Rs.9500/- is awarded under non-pecuniary heads. Claimant-appellants are thus entitled to receive compensation amounting Rs.4,41,500/- (Rs. 4,32,000+Rs. 9500) instead of Rs.1,89,500/-. The appellants would be entitled to interest at the rate of 6% per annum on enhanced amount of compensation from date of filing of claim petition till actual payment thereof. The entire amount of compensation shall be made to the claimants/appellants within a maximum period of three months from the date of receipt a certified copy of this order.