Sarla Verma & Ors vs Delhi Transport Corp.& Anr


Appellants- Smt. Sarla Verma & Ors.

Respondents- Delhi Transport Corporation & Anr.

Date- 15 April, 2009

Facts of case

Rajinder Prakash died on account of injuries sustained in a motor accident which occurred on 18.4.1988 involving a bus bearing No.DLP 829 belonging to the Delhi Transport Corporation. At the time of the accident and untimely death, the deceased was aged 38 years, and was working as a Scientist in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research on a monthly salary of Rs.3402/- and other benefits. His widow, three minor children, parents and grandfather (who is no more) filed a claim for Rs.16 lakhs before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, New Delhi. An officer of ICAR, examined as PW-4, gave evidence that the age of retirement in the service of ICAR was 60 years and the salary received by the deceased at the time of his death was Rs.4004/- per month. Tribunal apportioned the balance compensation among the claimants, that is, Rs.3,00,000/- to the widow, Rs.75000/- to each of the two daughters, Rs.50000/- to the son, Rs.19000/- to the grandfather and Rs.30000/- to each of the parents. Dissatisfied with the quantum of compensation, the appellants filed an appeal. Thus, it disposed of the appeal by increasing the compensation by Rs.1,25,624/- with interest at the rate of 6% P.A. from the date of claim petition. Not being satisfied with the said increase, the appellants have filed appeal at Supreme court.

Issues raised

  • Whether the future prospects can be taken into account for determining the income of the deceased? If so, whether pay revisions that occurred during the pendency of the claim proceedings or appeals therefrom should be taken into account?
  • Whether the deduction towards personal and living expenses of the deceased should be less than one-fourth (1/4th) as contended by the appellants, or should be one-third (1/3rd) as contended by the respondents?
  • Whether the High Court erred in taking the multiplier as 13?
  • What should be the compensation?

Laws Involved

  • Section 163A in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
  • Section 166 in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
  • Section 24 in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

Decision by SC

Court laid down the guidelines for assessing the amount of compensation to be paid by the offender to the accident victims who are self-employed, or have fixed salary, or have a permanent salary.

  • If the age of the deceased was between 40-50 of age and had a permanent job then the addition of 50% of his actual salary was to be made
  • If the deceased was above 50 years, then there would be no addition
  • If the deceased had a fixed salary or was self-employed then his actual salary at the time of his death was to be considered.

The appellants were entitled to the said sum of Rs.165,246/- in addition to what is already awarded, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of petition till the date of realization. The increase in compensation awarded by us shall be taken by the widow exclusively.

Parties to bear respective costs.

Ratio Decidendi:

“Where the deceased was self-employed or was on a fixed salary, the courts will usually take only the actual income at the time of death and a departure therefrom should be made only in rare and exceptional cases involving special circumstances.”

“The percentage of deduction on account of personal and living expenses can certainly vary with reference to the number of dependant members in the family, however, the personal living expenses of the deceased need not exactly correspond to the number of dependants.”

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