Mumbai: The Bombay high court has increased the compensation amount that was paid to the parents of a 29-year-old man who died in a car accident in 2002, from Rs 5,15,000 to Rs 48,81,816, observing that the MACT had failed to consider his actual net income and future prospects of hike in salary, considering his young age.
Offending truck driver had been rash driving
Justice Rajesh Patil, on November 6, also held that the offending truck driver had been driving in a rash and negligent way, resulting in the fatal accident.
“I hold that the driver of the offending vehicle was negligent and rash while driving the offending vehicle and due to which an accident occurred and five persons, including Karandikar, lost their lives,” Justice Patil said. On July 28, 2002, at 2pm, Shailendra Karandikar was driving on Sangli-Kolhapur Road near Akashwani Kendra, Sangli, when a truck coming from the opposite direction collided with his vehicle.
Only a minor had survived in the accident
Karandikar was accompanied by his wife Sonali, two-month-old son Sumedh, Sonali’s aunt Vaijayanti Akhave, uncle Madhav Akhave and their minor son Devdutt. Only Devdutt survived the accident. Shailendra’s father Shridhar, 60, and mother Manjiri, 54, had approached the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), seeking compensation of over Rs 18 lakh with interest.
The MACT, on September 20, 2005, awarded Rs 5,15,000 with interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum from the date of filing of the claim petition till its realisation, jointly and severally to be paid by the insurance company and the owner of the truck.
Truck driver's claims
The New India Assurance Company Limited challenged this before the high court, claiming that Shailendra was driving the car in a rash and negligent manner. Besides, the truck driver claimed that he had seen the car coming in a zigzag manner from a distance of 600 metres.
Shailendra’s parents too filed an appeal seeking higher compensation claiming that the MACT not only reduced Shailendra’s net income, but also ignored future prospects of higher income, stability of employment, qualifications, longevity of life in the family.
During the hearing before the MACT, the insurance company employee who visited the accident spot to take photographs, testified that the vehicles had been moved to the side of the road due to traffic issues. “Hence, I hold that the insurance company was not able to prove by leading evidence their case of negligence on part of the driver of the Maruti van,” noted Justice Rajesh Patil.
Justice Patil observed that considering that the road was a straight one and assuming that the truck driver saw the car coming in a zigzag manner, and yet did not apply the brakes, “is enough to prove (that the truck driver) was negligent and rash” while driving. The MACT calculated Shailendra’s net income as Rs 10,000 per month. However, the HC said that the MACT did not take into account his income under the heads – dearness allowance, provident fund, and special distance allowance. Hence, the HC calculated his salary to be Rs 21,054 per month.
The deceased's age at the time of accident a factor considered by the HC
Considering that the deceased was 29 years old at the time of the accident, the HC held that he had future prospects of hike in income and using a multiplier formula as per a Supreme Court ruling, the HC calculated his income to be Rs 42,95,016 per month. The MACT had deducted Rs 4,50,000 received by the parents towards the group insurance fund.
The HC held that the contractual amount under group insurance could not have been deducted. Hence, the HC included this amount and funeral expenses of Rs 20,000 while enhancing compensation. In all, the HC awarded a compensation of Rs 48,81,816 to the deceased’s parents.