14. Thus, we are of the view that the driver of the motorcycle was not in any way rash and negligent and the principle of contributory negligence would not be applicable in the present case.
15. Learned counsel for the appellant has further submitted that the percentage of future prospects has not been properly applied in this case.
16. The discussion of issue no.4 reveals that learned Tribunal has calculated the future prospects @ 30%.
17. The expression ‘just compensation’ has been explained in Sarla Verma’s case – AIR 2009 SC 3104, holding that the compensation awarded by a Tribunal does not become just compensation merely because the Tribunal considered it to be just. ‘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. After surveying almost all the previous decisions, the Court almost standardized the norms for the assessment of damages in Motor Accident Claims.
18. In a recent decision, in Santosh Devi v. National Insurance Co. Limited and Ors. MANU/SC/0322/2012 : (2012) 6 SCC 421, Sarla Verma’s case has further been explained with regard to the settled norms. It has been held in Paragraph 11 as follows:
“11. We have considered the respective arguments. Although, the legal jurisprudence developed in the country in last five decades is somewhat precedent-centric, the judgments which have bearing on socioeconomic conditions of the citizens and issues relating to compensation payable to the victims of motor accidents, those who are deprived of their land and similar matters needs to be frequently revisited keeping in view the fast-changing societal values, the effect of globalisation on the economy of the nation and their impact on the life of the people.”
19. Consequently, it has been held at Paragraphs 14 to 18, as follows:
“14. We find it extremely difficult to fathom any rationale for the observation made in paragraph 24 of the judgment in Sarla Verma’s case that where the deceased was self-employed or was on a fixed salary without provision for annual increment, etc., the Courts will usually take only the actual income at the time of death and a departure from this rule should be made only in rare and exceptional cases involving special circumstances. In our view, it will be nave to say that the wages or total emoluments/income of a person who is self-employed or who is employed on a fixed salary without provision for annual increment, etc., would remain the same throughout his life.
15. The rise in the cost of living affects everyone across the board. It does not make any distinction between rich and poor. As a matter of fact, the effect of rise in prices which directly impacts the cost of living is minimal on the rich and maximum on those who are selfemployed or who get fixed income/emoluments. They are the worst affected people. Therefore, they put in extra efforts to generate additional income necessary for sustaining their families.
16. The salaries of those employed under the Central and State Governments and their agencies/ instrumentalities have been revised from time to time to provide a cushion against the rising prices and provisions have been made for providing security to the families of the deceased employees. The salaries of those employed in private sectors have also increased manifold. Till about two decades ago, nobody could have imagined that salary of Class IV employee of the Government would be in five figures and total emoluments of those in higher echelons of service will cross the figure of rupees one lakh.
17. Although, the wages/income of those employed in unorganized sectors has not registered a corresponding increase and has not kept pace with the increase in the salaries of the Government employees and those employed in private sectors but it cannot be denied that there has been incremental enhancement in the income of those who are self-employed and even those engaged on daily basis, monthly basis or even seasonal basis. We can take judicial notice of the fact that with a view to meet the challenges posed by high cost of living, the persons falling in the latter category periodically increase the cost of their labour. In this context, it may be useful to give an example of a tailor who earns his livelihood by stitching cloths. If the cost of living increases and the prices of essentials go up, it is but natural for him to increase the cost of his labour. So will be the cases of ordinary skilled and unskilled labour, like, barber, blacksmith, cobbler, mason etc.
18. Therefore, we do not think that while making the observations in the last three lines of paragraph 24 of Sarla Verma’s judgment, the Court had intended to lay down an absolute rule that there will be no addition in the income of a person who is self-employed or who is paid fixed wages. Rather, it would be reasonable to say that a person who is self-employed or is engaged on fixed wages will also get 30 per cent increase in his total income over a period of time and if he/she becomes victim of accident then the same formula deserves to be applied for calculating the amount of compensation.”
20. Since, the Court actually intended to follow the principle in the case of salaried persons as laid in Sarla Verma’s case and to make it applicable also to the self-employed and persons on fixed wages, it is clarified that the increase in the case of those groups is not 30% always; it will also have a reference to the age. In other words, in the case of self-employed or persons with fixed wages, in case, the deceased victim was below 40 years, there must be an addition of 50% to the actual income of the deceased while computing future prospects. Needless to say that the actual income should be income after paying the tax, if any. Addition should be 30% in case the deceased was in the age group of 40 to 50 years.