Observing that a 26-year-old young man, who became wheel-chair bound following an accident, not only suffered physically and mentally but his mobility impairment also affected his conjugal relationship and shattered his hope to nurture children, the Bombay high court has enhanced compensation to over Rs 1 crore.
Justice Anuja Prabhudessai recently enhanced the compensation while hearing an appeal filed by Yogesh Panchal, who became paraplegic after suffering multiple injuries in an accident in 2004. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), in November 2009, had awarded hima compensation of Rs 48,38,543 with interest @ 7.5% p.a. from the date of the application till final realization.
The HC enhanced the total compensation amount to Rs 64,86,715. The judge excluded the amount of Rs 23,18,000 in respect of future expenditure and said that he will be entitled to an interest of 7.5 percent per annum on Rs 41,68,715 from the date of application till final realisation.
On November 29, 2004, Panchal, then 26, was going on his bike when he was hit by a dumper from behind near Sonapur bus stand in Mulund. He used to work as a metal cutter and earned a salary of Rs 1.6 lakh annually. Since his accident, he has undergone several surgeries including stem cell therapy and a spine stabilisation procedure at Chennai.
“The Claimant, a young man of 26 years of age is wheelchair-bound for life. In addition to physical and mental suffering, his mobility impairment is likely to affect his conjugal relationship and shatter his hope to nurture children. He is unable to enjoy amenities of life, which he would have otherwise enjoyed but for the tragic accidental injuries,” observed the HC.
The judge noted that paraplegia is a form of paralysis of the lower body and restricts everyday routine physical activity. This not just impairs the physical, mental, social and financial well-being of a married victim but also impacts the lives of his spouse - who inevitably becomes the main caregiver, children and infirm parents.
“Paraplegia also impacts the marital life of the spouse, who inevitably becomes the main caretaker or caregiver and in the process shared vows, friendship, intimacy and emotional support becomes a thing of the past,” said the court. It added, “The children too do not remain untouched by this tragedy, as impaired mobility limits parenting responsibilities and results in depriving the children of guidance, love, care and affection of the parent which is essential for the development and welfare of the children. Paraplegia of the sole bread earner also puts infirm parents in a helpless situation.”
The court emphasised that monetary compensation “howsoever high” cannot rebuild the life of the victim or reduce his physical or mental trauma. “It cannot restore the shattered dreams of the spouse, bring back lost childhood of the children or relieve the agony of the parents of seeing their child in a vegetative state,” remarked justice Prabhudessai.
Citing Supreme Court judgement, the HC averred “if courts nit-pick and award niggardly amounts of oblivious of these circumstances, there is a resultant affront of the injured victim”.