Motor Vehicles Act; Sumathikutty Vs. N. Manoj [Kerala High Court, 01-09-2011]

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 – Ss. 163A, 166 & 168 – Identification of the multiplier with reference to the deceased alone can be done only in a case where the claimants are younger to the deceased and not in a case where the claimants are elder to the deceased and the claimants have only a shorter term of life expectancy/dependency than the expected life span of the deceased.

2011 (4) KLT 304 : 2011 (4) KLJ 176 : 2011 (4) KHC 60

IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM

R. BASANT AND M.C. HARI RANI, JJ.

Dated this the 1st day of September, 2011

M.A.C.A. No. 307 of 2011

For Petitioner: K.B. Arunkumar; For Respondents: K.B. Ramanand, R. Ajith Kumar

J U D G M E N T

Basant, J.

Is the age of the dependent claimant irrelevant in a claim under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act? Does the decision in Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation, (2009) 6 SCC 121 followed by P.S. Somanathan v. District Insurance Officer, (2011) 3 SCC 566 dispense with the requirement under settled law that the lower multiplier has to be taken into reckoning when different multipliers exist considering the age of the victim/deceased and dependent/claimant in a fatal accident? How are Tribunals to identify the multiplier in such cases under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act (the Act hereinafter) in future? These questions are raised before us in this appeal by Sri. K.B. Arunkumar, the learned counsel for the appellant.

2. To the vitally relevant facts first. The appellant/claimant is a woman, aged 61 years. She claimed compensation for the loss suffered by her on account of the death of her son Jayan @ Jayesh Kumar in a motor accident which took place on 11.06.2008. She preferred to stake the claim under Section 166 of the Act. A total amount of Rs.7 lakhs was claimed. She had staked the claim along with claimants 2 and 3, children of the appellant and siblings of the deceased.

3. The Tribunal by the impugned award came to the conclusion that only the appellant/mother is entitled to compensation. It was further held that only an amount of Rs.1,53,000/- is payable as compensation as per the details given in para.9, which we extract below:

Sl.No. Heads of award Amount awarded
1. Transportation expenses Rs.2,000.00
2. Compensation for mental shock and agony Rs.5,000.00
3. Loss of dependency Rs.1,26,000.00(3000 x 12 x 7 x ½)
4. Loss of love and affection Rs.15,000.00
5. Funeral expenses Rs.5,000.00
Total Rs.1,53,000.00

4. The learned counsel for the appellant/claimant/mother claims to be aggrieved by the impugned award. The other claimants have accepted the award and have not preferred any appeal. We have heard the learned counsel for the appellant and the learned counsel for the insurance company. The learned counsel for the appellant assails the impugned award on the following grounds.

i) The Tribunal erred grossly in taking into consideration the multiplier applicable to the appellant and not the multiplier applicable to the deceased.

ii) At any rate, the quantum of compensation could not have been below the amount payable under Section 163A of the Act.