High Court Of Judicature At Madras

Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation Limited V. R.C. Selvakumar & Others

Civil Miscellaneous Appeal No. 808 Of 2006. 10-08-2010

JUDGMENT

(Prayer: Appeal filed under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 against the judgment and decree dated 03.11.2005 and made in M.A.C.T.O.P.No.117 of 2002 on the file of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, (Principal Sub-Judge), Chengalpattu.)

M.Y. Eqbal, C.J.

1. This appeal filed by the appellant Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation Ltd. is directed against the judgment and award dated 3.11.2005 passed by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Chengalpattu in M.C.O.P. No. 117 of 2002 whereby the Tribunal has awarded a total compensation of Rs. 28,11,000 together with interest for the injuries sustained by the claimant-respondent No. 1 in a motor vehicle accident.

2. The facts of the case lie in a narrow compass:

On 12.12.1999, the claimant-respondent No. 1 was travelling in a bus bearing registration No. TN 32-N 0810 belonging to the appellant Corporation, which was proceeding to Pondicherry. When the bus was nearing Valliammai Polytechnic near Potheri along Chennai-Chengalpattu Main Road, another bus bearing registration No. TAI 4005 belonging to respondent No. 2 was parked there due to mechanical defect. The driver of the appellant Corporation drove the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner and dashed against the stationary bus, as a result of which the claimant’s left hand was completely fractured and finally it was amputated. The claimant further sustained grievous injuries all over the body. Hence, a sum of Rs. 50,00,000 was claimed as compensation for the injuries sustained by the claimant.

3. The appellant Corporation, which was the respondent No. 1 before the Tribunal, defended the case by denying the nature of the alleged injuries sustained by the claimant, the period of treatment, medical expenditure, disability, etc. According to the Corporation, on the relevant date the driver of the bus drove the bus slowly and cautiously according to the traffic rules and after giving signal overtook the stationary bus. At that time, a bus overtook this appellant’s bus on the right side very close. The accident occurred due to rash and negligent overtaking of the bus which came from behind.

4. The Tribunal framed the following points for consideration:

(i) Whether the accident was due to rash and negligent act of the driver of the bus bearing registration No. TN 32-N 0810?

(ii) Whether the petitioner is entitled to any compensation, and if so, what is the quantum?

5. So far as point No. (i) is concerned the Tribunal held that the accident occurred due to rash and negligent act of the driver of the appellant Corporation. So far as point No. (ii), with regard to quantum of compensation, is concerned, the Tribunal held that the claimant made out a case that his monthly earning was Rs. 55,000 as a Marine Radio Officer, and because of the injuries sustained by him, he lost his employment. A document (Exh. P8) was filed to show that the claimant has got his name registered with the Special Employment Office for Physically Handicapped. The income tax returns, which are marked as Exhs. P15 and P16, were filed to show that his annual salary for the year 1998-99 was Rs. 5,87,253. The Tribunal, however, came to the conclusion that normally the employment, as a seafarer, is given for six months and, therefore, the annual income of the claimant would come to Rs. 3,30,000. The Tribunal had adopted the multiplier of 10 and assessed the compensation amount at Rs. 33,00,000 on the ground of permanent disability. The Tribunal further held that the claimant suffered 80 per cent permanent partial disability and, therefore, as per Part II of Schedule I of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 (for short ‘the Act’), the loss of future earnings comes to Rs. 26,40,000. The Tribunal further awarded Rs. 25,000 each for permanent partial disability and for pain and suffering and also Rs. 1,20,000 for medical expenses and finally, the Tribunal held that the compensation of Rs. 28,11,000 is payable in the claimant along with interest at 7.5 per cent.

6. We have heard the learned Counsel for the parties. Learned Counsel appearing for the appellant Corporation has assailed the impugned order as illegal, and mainly against the evidence brought on record. Learned Counsel submitted that Tribunal has not correctly assessed the compensation amount.

7. Alter hearing the learned Counsel for the parties, we find that the first error committed by the Tribunal is in calculating compensation as per Part II of Schedule I of the Act. Section 4 of the Act lays down the provision for calculation of compensation. The relevant portion of Section 4 is quoted herein below:

“4. Amount of compensation—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the amount of compensation shall be as follows, namely:

(a)Where death resultsfrom the injury,an amount equal to fifty per cent of the monthly wages of the deceased workmanmultiplied by the relevant factor;

or

an amount of eighty thousand rupees, whichever is more.

(b)Where permanent totaldisablement resultsfrom the injury,an amount equal to sixty per cent of themonthly wages of the injured workmanmultiplied by the relevant factor;

or

an amount of ninety thousand rupees,whichever is more.

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Explanation I.—For the purposes of Clause (a) and Clause (b), ‘relevant factor’ in relation to a workman means the factor specified in the second column of Schedule IV against the entry in the first column of that Schedule specifying the number of years which are the same as the completed years of the age of the workman on his last birthday immediately preceding the date on which the compensation fell due.

Explanation II.—Where the monthly wages of a workman exceed four thousand rupees, his monthly wages for the purposes of Clause (a) and Clause (b) shall be deemed to be four thousand rupees only;

(c)Where permanent partial disablementresults from theinjury,(i) in the case of an injury specified in Part II of Schedule I, such percentage of the compensation which would have beenpayable in the case of permanent totaldisablement as is specified therein as being the percentage of the loss of earning capacity caused by that injury; and (ii) in the case of an injury not specified in Schedule I, such percentage of the compensation payable in the case of permanent total disablement as is proportionate to the loss of earning capacity (as assessed by the qualified medical practitioner) permanently caused by the injury.”

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8. From a bare perusal of the aforesaid provision, it is manifestly clear that if the compensation is calculated on the basis of Section 4 of the Act, together with Explanation, and the relevant factor mentioned in Part II of Schedule I of the Act, the compensation amount cannot be Rs. 26,50,000. If we take the help of the Act for the purpose of assessment of compensation, the amount payable to the claimant for the amputation of left hand cannot be more than Rs. 7,50,000. If, on this amount, further compensation towards medical expenses, pain and suffering and disability, as awarded by the Tribunal, is calculated the total amount comes to Rs. 9,20,000. However, taking into consideration the facts of the case and the nature of injuries sustained by the claimant, we are of the view that compensation of Rs. 10,00,000 (Rupees ten lakh) will meet the ends of justice, and the same shall be just and reasonable compensation.

9. We, therefore, allow this appeal in part, and reduce the compensation amount to Rs. 10,00,000. Needless to say that this compensation amount shall carry interest as awarded by the Tribunal. No costs.

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