IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA Reportable
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CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5316 OF 2010
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.668/2008)
Shyamwati Sharma & Ors. ... Appellants
Karam Singh & Ors. ... Respondents
R. V. RAVEENDRAN J.,
2. This is an appeal for enhancement of compensation, by the mother,
widow, three children and father of Kuldeep Sharma, a Sub-Inspector of
Police, aged 36 years, who died in a motor accident on 25.12.1990.
According to the salary certificate, his basic pay was Rs.7425/-, the
gross salary (pay and allowances) was Rs.13,794/-, the deductions aggregated
to Rs.4,305/- and the net take home salary was Rs.9,489/- per month.
3. The Tribunal by its award dated 17.1.2003 held the respondents liable
and directed the insurer to pay to the appellants, Rs.14,44,600/- as
compensation, with simple interest at 9% per annum from the date of filing
of the claim petition (21.2.2002) till realization. The Tribunal arrived at the
said compensation in the following manner : It deducted one third from the
gross monthly salary of Rs.13,794/- towards the personal and living expenses
of the deceased and determined the contribution to the family as Rs.9,196/-
per month or Rs.1,10,352/- per annum. It applied the multiplier `13' and
arrived at the loss of dependency as Rs.14,34,576/- rounded off to
4. Feeling aggrieved the claimants filed an appeal. The High Court started
with the gross salary as Rs.13,794/- per month. Drawing an assumption that
the deceased would have at least got one promotion or gone to the next higher
grade if he had completed the remaining 24 years of service, and taking note
of the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission and the annual
increments, it inferred that by the time the deceased would have retired, he
would have been earning a minimum gross income of Rs.22,000/- per month.
The average of the actual monthly income (Rs.13794/-) and the projected
monthly income at the time of retirement (Rs.22000), that is Rs.17,897/-,
was taken as the monthly income. The High Court deducted 30% thereof
towards `deductions from salary' (income-tax etc.) and arrived at the net
monthly income as Rs.12,528/-. It further deducted one fourth thereof
towards the personal and living expenses of the deceased and arrived at the
contribution to the family as Rs.9,396/- per month or Rs.1,12,752/- per
annum. By applying the multiplier of 13, it calculated the loss of dependency
as Rs.14,65,776/-. As a consequence, it increased the compensation awarded
by the Tribunal by Rs.32,000/- with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from
the date of claim petition till the date of payment.
5. The said judgment of the High Court is challenged in this appeal. The
appellants urged the following two contentions :
(i) The High Court ought not to have made a `deduction' of 30% from the
salary towards taxes etc.; and
(ii) The High Court ought to have applied the multiplier `16' instead of
`13', having regard to the age of the deceased.
6. This Court in Sarla Verma vs. Delhi Transport Corporation - 2009 (6)
SCC 121, has stated the principles relating to `addition to income' towards
future prospects. This Court held that wherever the deceased was below 40
years of age and had a permanent job, the actual salary (less tax) should be
increased by 50% towards future prospects, to arrive at the monthly income.
It also held that where the number of dependants of a deceased are in the
range of 4 to 6, the deduction towards personal and living expenses of the
deceased should be 25%. It further held that in regard to persons aged 36 to
40 years, the appropriate multiplier should be 15. We will re-calculate the
compensation by applying the said principles.
7. As noticed above, the gross salary was Rs.13,794/- per month or
Rs.1,65,528/- per annum. By adding 50% towards future prospects (as the
deceased was less than 40 years of age), the deemed gross income would
have been Rs.20,691/- per month or Rs.2,48,292/- per annum. The percentage
of deduction towards income-tax and surcharge, taken as 30% by the High
Court, does not require to be disturbed, having regard to the income. On such
deduction, the net annual income of the deceased would have been
Rs.1,73,800/-. From the said sum, one-fourth (25%) had to be deducted
towards the personal and living expenses of the deceased. Thus the
contribution of the deceased to his family would have been Rs.1,30,350/- per
annum. By applying the multiplier of 15, the total loss of dependency will be
Rs.19,55,250/-. By adding a sum of Rs.5,000/- each under the heads of loss
of consortium, loss of estate and funeral expenses, the total compensation is
determined as Rs.19,70,250/-.
8. The submission of the respondents that the deduction of 30% from the
salary is not warranted in view of the decision in Sarla Verma, is not sound.
In Sarla Verma, the monthly salary of the deceased was only Rs.4004/- and
the annual income even after taking note of future prospects was Rs.72072/-.
The income was in a range which was exempt from tax, if the permissible
deductions were applied. Therefore, this Court did not make any deduction
towards income-tax. But this Court made it clear that where the annual
income is in the taxable range, appropriate deduction should be made towards
tax. In this case as the annual income has been worked out as Rs.2,48,292/-,
appropriate deduction has to be made towards income-tax. The rate of income
tax is a varying figure, with reference to taxable income after permissible
deductions and the year of assessment. The High Court has assessed the
deduction as 30% and on the facts, we do not propose to disturb it. We
however make it clear that while ascertaining the income of the deceased, any
deductions shown in the salary certificate as deductions towards GPF, life
insurance premium, repayments of loans etc., should not be excluded from
the income. The deduction towards income tax/surcharge alone should be
considered to arrive at the net income of the deceased.
9. We accordingly allow the appeal and increase the compensation from
Rs.14,66,600/- to Rs.19,70,250/-. The increased amount shall carry interest at
the rate of 6% per annum from the date of claim petition to the date of
payment. The parties to bear their respective costs.
(R. V. Raveendran) __________________J.
(H. L. Gokhale)
July 13, 2010.