Overrules an HC judgement
New Delhi, Nov. 19 (Delhi Crown): Legal heirs of a person who dies in an accident shall be entitled to appropriate compensation, even if the victim was not earning at the time of his or her death, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Overruling a high court order that had reduced the amount of compensation awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) from Rs. 12,85,000 to Rs. 6,10,000 on grounds that the deceased was not earning at the time of his death, a 2-judge SC bench ruled that claimants of the dead person shall be entitled to get Rs. 15,82,000/ with interest at the rate of 7% from the date of claims petition till the date of its realisation.
Justices M.R. Shah and Sanjiv Khanna maintained that it was “erroneous” on the part of the high court to presume that the income of an accident victim would remain static or stagnant post his or her death.
The SC ruling came in the case of one Pranay Sethi, an engineering student aged 21, who had died in a road accident on September 12, 2012.
While the MACT had granted the victim’s family a sum of Rs. 12,85,000, the High Court reduced the amount to Rs. 6,10,000 after assessing Sethi’s income at Rs. 5,000 per month instead of Rs. 15,000 per month as decided by the MACT.
The High Court made the assessment on the presumption that when labourers and skilled labourers were earning Rs. 5,000 per month under the Minimum Wages Act in 2012, Sethi, who was not employed, deserved or was entitled to that much only.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled differently, rejecting the Centre’s contention that the deceased was not serving and earning at the time of his accident and death, and that nothing further needed to be added towards the future prospect/future rise in income.
“We are of the opinion that even in (the) case of a deceased who was not serving at the time of death and had no income at the time of death, their legal heirs shall also be entitled to future prospects by adding future rise in income,” said the apex court.