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Madras High Court Modifies Compensation Awarded to Father & Daughter of Woman Killed in Accident

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A father and a daughter both filed for a modified compensation awarded to them after the death of their wife & mother respectively. The daughter separately contended that she should be awarded a greater proportion of the compensation as opposed to an equal division for her educational and marriage expenses. The daughter was a minor living with her maternal aunt. The Transport Corporation filed a counter appeal on the same. The matter was heard and decided upon by Hon’ble Justice Pushpa Satyanarayana & Hon’ble Justice S. Kannammal. 

Facts of the Case

The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation filed a Civil Miscellaneous Appeal (CMA) against the K. Srinivasan & S.Sathyanarayini in (MD) No.384 of 2012 while the second Respondent claimant i.e., S.Sathyanarayini filed a Civil Miscellaneous Appeal (MD) No.238 of 2015 against the award given by the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation. As both the appeals were against the same order, they were taken for the hearing together. 

The claimants of the award filed a petition praying for compensation of Rs.61,00,000 under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs.38,34,909. The second claimant S.Sathyanarayini preferred a CMA in 2015 for enhancement and apportionment of the said award, while the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation filed a CMA against it. 

The deceased Vijaykumari, aged 45, was working as PG Assistant in Government School and was earning Rs.28,267/- per month. She had an accident in 2009 and succumbed to her injuries. An FIR was registered & the Petitioners prayed for compensation of Rs.61,00,000/-. During inquiry before the Tribunal, the first Petitioner, who was the husband of the deceased had been examined as PW1 and the eye witness Mr.Ganapathy had been examined as PW2.

The Tribunal found that the accident had occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the driver of the bus. Further, the Tribunal awarded a sum of Rs.38,34,909/- as compensation under a few heads. It also directed the Respondent to pay interest for the aforesaid amount at the rate of 7.5% p.a. from the date of filing of the petition till the date of deposit and ruled that the Petitioners should share the amount equally among them. 

The Transport Corporation has filed the Civil Miscellaneous Appeal (MD) to set aside the award and the second Petitioner S.Sathyanarayani had preferred the Civil Miscellaneous Appeal(MD) for enhancement and apportionment of the compensation.

Arguments before the Court

The Counsel for the Transport Corporation submitted that the Tribunal failed to consider that the accident occurred only due to the negligent driving of the rider of the two-wheeler and the compensation awarded on various heads by the Tribunal was highly excessive. 

The Counsel for the Appellant (S. Sathyanarayini) submitted that the amount of compensation awarded by the Tribunal was inadequate and the division of the same was unfair between the Petitioners. It was contended that the proportion of the compensation amount for the minor daughter should be enhanced to 75% owing to the educational and marriage expenses of the minor daughter who lived in the care of her maternal aunt because of the strained relationship with her father.

It was further submitted that as per the Pay Certificate of the deceased, an addition of 30% income should have been also added. 

Court’s observations

The Court observed that the accident did not occur owing to the first Petitioner’s negligent driving. It further observed that since the age of the deceased was 45, a multiplier of ’14’ should be applied. Since the Tribunal had applied a multiplier of ’13’, the same has to be modified, and the ’14’ multiplier had to be used. 

The Court also noted that the funeral expenses, loss of estate, loss of consortium, loss of love and affection, and the Medical Expenses, were to be also added. The compensation, that the Petitioners were entitled to receive thus amounted to Rs.43,10,573/- instead of Rs.38,34,909/- as arrived by the Tribunal. 

Regarding the enhancement of the compensation to the second Petitioner, the Court observed that the father had filed a petition in Principal District Judge, and the same was ordered in favour of the first Petitioner/father. Thus, the Court did not find the need for any modification.

Court’s Order

The Court enhanced the award amount from Rs.38,34,909/- to Rs.43,10,573/-. The apportionment made by the Tribunal was maintained in respect of a sum of Rs.38,34,909/- and the second Respondent was entitled to the entire enhanced compensation. It directed the Transport Corporation to deposit the modified amount together with accrued interest and costs within 12 weeks of the present Order. It consequently disposed of the miscellaneous petition. 

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