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[MACT] Deduction of 50% is to be allowed if deceased was living in a foreign Country, Supreme Court

The SC on June 30, 2020 {United India Insurance Co. Ltd. vs Satinder Kaur @ Satwinder Kaur & Ors.} held that the criteria which are to be taken into consideration for assessing compensation in the case of death, are : (i) the age of the deceased at the time of his death; (ii) the number of dependants left behind by the deceased; and (iii) the income of the deceased at the time of his death.

It was held by the SC Bench, comprising of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, Justice Indu Malhotra  &  Justice Aniruddha Bose, that in death cases, compensation would be awarded only under three conventional heads viz. loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses.The Supreme Court held that reasonable figures on conventional heads, namely, loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses should be Rs. 15,000/-, Rs. 40,000/- and Rs. 15,000/- respectively. The Court was of the view that the amounts to be awarded under these conventional heads should be enhanced by 10% every three years.

In the present case, the appeal was filed before the SC against enhancement of compensation to Rs. 96,78,000/- by the HC which was awarded due to death of the deceased by Motor Accident. It was held that letter dated 27.06.1997 purported to have been written by the High Speed Group to the Counselor, New Zealand Consulate was not attested by the Indian Embassy at Doha, as per the Diplomatic & Consular Offices Oaths and Fees Act, 1948. It was held by the SC that the said document was not proved by the Claimants, and cannot form the basis of computing the income of the deceased.

It was also held by the SC that the deduction towards personal and living expenses should be 1/4th, if the number of dependant family members is four. However in present case, inspite of four dependants, the SC held that 50% of the income of the deceased would be required to be deducted, since he was living in a foreign country. It was held that the deceased had to maintain an establishment there, and incur expenditure for the same in commensurate with the high cost of living in a foreign country. 

The SC affirmed the deduction of 50% made by the MACT and the High Court towards contributory negligence. Accordingly, in view of above, the compensation was reduced and the Claimants were awarded compensation of Rs. 19,82,563/- along with Interest @12% p.a. by the SC.

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