Compensation granted more than asked for: SC interprets Motor vehicle act

In view of the statement made by the appellant-claimant- Jabbar in so many words that if the Court finds him entitled to get more than Rs 3 lakh, he is ready to deposit deficient court fee, in the judgment of the case- Jabbar v. Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, delivered on November 13, 2019, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice M.R.Shah at the Supreme Court, have observed that “ This clearly means that neither the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal nor the Bombay High Court was precluded from awarding higher than Rs 3 lakh- the amount claimed by the appellant”.
The Court has stated that it has no doubt that the amputation of right hand has caused great loss of future income to the appellant. This reason is in addition to his willingness to pay the difference in court fee, if the Court grants him more in claim than he has prayed for.
In the opinion of the Court, looking to the facts that the appellant, who is a fruit seller on a hand-cart, his right hand having amputated, injury has caused him permanent disability substantially affecting his business. The award of Rs 2.5 lakh cannot be held to be a just and reasonable compensation. The appellant’s claim in his computation was Rs 8.1 lakh towards loss of future income.
The appeal in this case was filed against the judgment and order passed by the High Court on July 6, 2017, by which the HC enhanced the compensation granted to the appellant from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh.
In the claim petition, he had claimed that he was entitled for compensation of Rs 9,05,000/-from the respondents jointly and severally and the claimant was suffering from financial crisis, therefore, he was unable to pay court fee on the said amount. Therefore he had restricted his claim to the tune of Rs. 3 lakh. The MACT accepted the case setup by him and and allowed the claim up to Rs 1.5 lakh.
Aggrieved by the said order, the appeal was filed in the HC.The HC found substance in the appeal and allowed it by enhancing compensation /claim from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. The HC has observed that the said amount shall be just and fair compensation payable to the appellant for the injuries suffered.
There is no dispute between the parties that in the bus accident, right hand of the appellant was crushed, which had to be amputated. It was submitted by the appellant’s counsel that the mere fact that the appellant has limited his claim to Rs 3 lakh cannot be a factor in the appellant being not granted the fair and reasonable compensation for injuries suffered by him.
The HC having noticed that the appellant was carrying on business of selling fruits on a hand-cart, the amputation of his right hand has made the business the appellant non-functional. The amount of Rs 2.5 lakh awarded by the HC was neither fair nor just compensation. The counsel had also submitted that that the Supreme Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution can award just and reasonable compensation to the appellant.
On the other hand, the respondent’s counsel submitted that the appellant having confined his claim to Rs 3 lakh before the HC cannot be allowed to contend that he was entitled for any higher compensation.
It has been stated in the claim petition that “ due to amputation of right hand the appellant has become permanently disabled person. He has lost his earning capacity. The appellant is unable to do any type of work and is leading a pitiably miserable life and therefore, therefore the claimant is complaining compensation under following heads : 
A. Loss of future income ----------------- Rs 8,10,000.00
B. Expenses towards medicines,
Attendant for travelling  ---------------Rs      20,000.00  
C. Compensation for unbearable pain and agony -----------------------------------Rs      50,000.00
D. Loss of pleasure and personality-------Rs       50,000.00
Total -------------Rs   9,05,000.00
“Thus, the claimant is entitled for compensation of Rs 9,05,000/- from the respondents jointly and severally because the claimant has sustained the above loss, expenses because of the accident. However, the claimant is suffering from financial crisis therefore, he is unable to deposit court fees upon the said amount therefore, he has restricted his claim to the tune of Rs 3 lakh and on which court fee stamp of Rs 2372.50 is paid herewith which is sufficient. If this Hon’ble Court comes to the conclusion that the claimant is entitled to get more than Rs 3 lakh towards compensation, in that eventuality, the claimant is ready to deposit deficit court fees.”
The Supreme Court has laid down in large number of cases that it is permissible to grant compensation of any amount in excess to that one which has been claimed. The Supreme Court in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution has awarded just and reasonable compensation.
The apex-Court has stated that it is sufficient to refer to a recent judgment of the case – Ramla & Others v. National Insurance Company Ltd. & Others- (2019) 2 SCC 192, wherein it has stated : “ Though the claimants had claimed a total compensation of Rs 25,00,000/- in their claim petition filed before the Tribunal, we feel that the compensation which the claimants are entitled to is higher than the same as mentioned supra. 
"There is no restriction that the Court cannot award compensation exceeding the claimed amount, since the function of the Tribunal or court under section 168 of  Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 , is to award “just compensation”. The Motor Vehicles Act is a beneficial and welfare legislation. A “just compensation” is one which is reasonable on the basis of the evidence produced on record..It cannot be said to have become time barred. Further, there is no need for a new cause of action to claim an enhanced amount. The courts are duty bound to award just compensation.”
After taking into consideration entire facts and circumstances of this case, the Supreme Court has been of the view that to grant an amount of Rs five lakh as compensation to the appellant shall be just and reasonable. The Supreme Court has allowed the appeal and enhanced compensation to Rs five lakh with 9 pc per annum interest from the date of the claim petition.


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on 26 November 2019
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