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CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9972 OF 2014 (Arising out of SLP(C) NO. 2339 OF 2014) KALA DEVI & ORS. …APPELLANTS Vs. BHAGWAN DAS CHAUHAN & ORS. ….RESPONDENTS

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9972 OF 2014
(Arising out of SLP(C) NO. 2339 OF 2014)

KALA DEVI & ORS. …APPELLANTS

Vs.

BHAGWAN DAS CHAUHAN & ORS. ….RESPONDENTS

J U D G M E N T

V. GOPALA GOWDA, J.

Leave granted.

2. This appeal has been filed by the appellant-claimants against the
Judgment and order dated 31.07.2013 passed in First Appeal No. 413 of 2007
by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla, wherein the High Court has
partly allowed the appeal filed by the appellant-claimants.

3. The necessary relevant facts are stated hereunder to appreciate the case
with a view to ascertain whether the appellants are entitled for relief as
prayed in this appeal.

On 15.12.2003, Roshan Chauhan, husband of the appellant Kala Devi
was travelling in a vehicle bearing No. HP-09A-0897(207 TATA), which was
being driven by respondent No. 3 Keshav Ram. When they reached near Narla,
Tehsil Theog, District Shimla, the vehicle got stuck due to snow surfaced
road. Roshan and few others alighted and tried to push the vehicle. In the
process of pushing the vehicle, suddenly the vehicle slipped and hit Roshan
and went off the road. This lead to the death of Roshan and seriously
injured others who later succumbed to the same.

4. The claimants i.e. the wife, 2 minor children and mother of the
deceased filed a claim petition before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal,
Shimla (in short ‘the Tribunal’) claiming Rs.12,96,000/- as compensation on
the ground that the deceased was 25 years of age, a matriculate and a
driver by vocation, earning Rs.9,000/- p.m. at the time of his death. The
Tribunal took the income of the deceased at Rs.3,000/- p.m. for the purpose
of quantifying loss of dependency of the appellants. 1/3rd of the monthly
income was deducted towards personal expenses of the deceased. As the
deceased was 25 years of age at the time of his death, therefore by
applying the appropriate multiplier of 17, the compensation determined by
the Tribunal towards the loss of dependency was arrived at Rs.4,08,000/-
(Rs.2,000 x 12 x 17). A sum of Rs.32,000/- was awarded towards
conventional heads. Thus, a total compensation of Rs.4,40,000/- was awarded
by the Tribunal with interest at the rate of 7.5% p.a. to the appellants.

5. Being aggrieved by the judgment and award passed by the Tribunal, the
claimant-appellants preferred First Appeal No. 413 of 2007 before the High
Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla for enhancement of compensation,
whereas the respondent-Insurance Company preferred First Appeal No.498 of
2007 for the reduction of the compensation awarded by the Tribunal.

6. After hearing the parties, the High Court was of the view that there
was nothing to dislodge the income of the deceased as assessed by the
Tribunal. However, it could not be applied for all of the forthcoming years
had the deceased survived. Therefore, keeping in view the potentiality that
the deceased could have had, a benefit of 40% increase in the income was
given by the High Court. Thus, arriving at an income of Rs.4,200/- p.m. and
after deducting 1/3rd amount towards personal expenses, the dependency was
arrived at Rs.2,800/- p.m. (Rs.33,600/- p.a.). The appropriate multiplier
of 18 was adopted by the High Court and arrived at a loss of dependency of
Rs.6,04,800/-. It was further held that the appellant-wife was entitled for
a compensation of Rs.30,000/- for loss of consortium and the minors were
entitled to a compensation of Rs.40,000/- for loss of love and affection.
Further, the appellants were also entitled for Rs.25,000/- under the head
of conventional charges. Thus, the total amount of compensation calculated
by the High Court was Rs.6,99,800/- with 9% interest p.a. with costs
quantified at Rs.5,000/-. The appeal filed by the respondent-Insurance
Company was dismissed by the High Court.
Not satisfied with the order of the High Court, the appellants have filed
this appeal, urging various grounds.

7. It has been contended by the learned counsel for the appellants that the
income of the deceased at the time of his death was Rs.9,000/- p.m. and
therefore, the assessment of loss of dependency based on Rs.3,000/- p.m. as
the income of the deceased is wrong.

8. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondents contended
that the computation of the compensation is after thorough analysis of the
evidence on record in detail and the High Court has correctly assessed the
monthly income of the deceased as Rs.3,000/- and thereafter gave a further
increase of 40% towards future prospects and enhanced the total
compensation of Rs.6,99,800/- at 9% interest p.a.

9. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties. The deceased was 25
years of age at the time of death and was a matriculate, working as a
driver with a valid license for driving heavy motor vehicles. A driver in
Himachal Pradesh on an average earns Rs.9,000/- p.m. as per Minimum Wages
Act. Therefore, the courts below have failed to take judicial notice of the
same and the fact that the post of a driver is a skilled job. Thus,
considering the facts and circumstances of the case, we take the gross
monthly income of the deceased at Rs.9,000/- p.m., i.e. Rs.1,08,000/- p.a.
On deduction of 20% towards income tax, the net income comes to Rs.86,400/-
p.a. Further, deducting 1/3rd towards personal expenses and applying the
appropriate multiplier of 18, the loss of dependency is calculated at
Rs.10,36,800/-.

10. Further, the High Court has failed in not following the principles laid
down by this Court in Rajesh & Ors. v. Rajbir Singh & Ors.[1] and erred in
awarding a meagre sum of just Rs.30,000/- under the head of loss of
consortium, Rs.40,000/- towards loss of love and affection. Accordingly,
we award Rs.1,00,000/- towards loss of consortium, Rs.25,000/- towards
funeral expenses and Rs.1,00,000/- to each minor child of the deceased
(i.e. Rs.2,00,000/-) towards loss of love and affection as per the
guidelines laid down by this Court in Juju Kuruvila & Ors. v. Kunjujamma
Mohan & Ors.[2].

11. The High Court has further erred by not awarding compensation towards
loss of estate to the appellant-wife. We accordingly award Rs.1,00,000/-
towards the same, as per the principles laid down by this Court in
Kalpanaraj & Ors. v. Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation[3].

12. In the result, the appellants shall be entitled to compensation under
the following heads:

|1. |Loss of dependency |Rs. 10,36,800/- |
|2. |Loss of Consortium |Rs. 1,00,000/- |
|3. |Loss of Estate |Rs. 1,00,000/- |
|4. |Loss of love and affection |Rs. 2,00,000/- |
|5. |Funeral expenses |Rs. 25,000/- |
| |TOTAL |Rs. 14,61,800/- |

Thus, the total compensation payable to the appellants by the respondent-
Insurance Company will be Rs.14,61,800/- with interest at the rate of 9%
p.a. from the date of filing of the application till the date of payment.
Accordingly, we allow this appeal in awarding Rs.14,61,800/- with interest
@9% p.a.

The compensation awarded shall be apportioned between the
appellants equally with proportionate interest. The respondent-Insurance
Company shall either pay by way of demand draft in favour of the appellants
or deposit the same with interest as awarded by this Court, before the
Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, after deducting the amount already paid to
the appellants pursuant to the impugned Judgment and Award, if any, within
six weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of this judgment. No Costs.
……………………………………………………………J.
[V. GOPALA GOWDA]

……………………………………………………………J.
[ADARSH KUMAR GOEL]

New Delhi,
October 31, 2014

———————–
[1]
[2] (2013) 9 SCC 54
[3]
[4] (2013)9 SCC 166
[5]
[6] 2014(5)SCALE 479

———————–
|NON REPORTABLE |

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