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[MACT] HC wrongly assumed Claimant as a Government employee, when it is not even averred: Supreme Court

The SC on June 16, 2020 {Smt. Sangita Arya & Ors. vs Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. & Ors.} held that the impugned order passed by the High Court bristles with serious factual inaccuracies   :–   first,   the   learned   Single   Judge   wrongly assumed   that   the   deceased   Harish   Singh   Arya   was   a Government employee. This has nowhere been averred by the Claimants in any of their pleadings. It was held that the entire basis of the judgment is hence misconceived.

It was held by the SC Bench, comprising of Justice R. Banumathi, Justice Indu Malhotra  &  Justice Aniruddha Bose, that the   learned   Single   Judge disregarded the ITR for the year 2006­-07, wherein the income of the deceased was shown as Rs. 98,500 p.a. on the ground that it was allegedly filed almost one year after the death of the deceased. It was held that this finding also is factually incorrect. It was held that a photocopy of the original ITR for the year 2006­-07 was filed   before   this   Court,   bearing   the   rubber   stamp   of   the Income Tax Department. It was held that it shows that the date of filing the ITR   was   20.04.2007,   which   is   prior   to   the   death   of   the deceased which occurred on 18.06.2007. Hence, it was held that the High Court was not justified in disregarding the ITR for the year 2006­-07 while assessing the income of the deceased.

The   present   civil   appeal   has   been   filed before the SC   by   the Claimants/Dependents of one Harish Singh Arya, who died at   the   age   of   35   years   in   a   motor   vehicle   accident   on 18.06.2007.

The Court held that on the basis of the erroneous assumption, the High Court has erroneously observed that the deceased was running a parallel business by plying two taxis, and held that the income derived from the same could not be taken into consideration for assessing the compensation. It was held that these findings being based on a completely erroneous assumption, are liable to be set aside.

The SC held that the Courts below have not awarded any amount   towards   future   prospects,   as   mandated   by   the judgment of the Constitution Bench in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi & Ors. (2017) 16 SCC 680. Accordingly, the Court awarded future prospects @ 40% of the income of the deceased. It was held that given   the   fact   that   the   deceased   left   behind   five dependents, the deduction towards his personal expenses would be 1/4th as per the judgment of the Court in Sarla Verma & Ors. v. Delhi Transport Corporation & Anr. (2009) 6 SCC 121. It was held that the multiplier adopted by the MACT and the High Court at 16 is appropriate.

Accordingly,   the   compensation   payable   to   the Claimants/Appellants herein was determined by the SC as : i) Income : Rs. 1,00,000 p.a.; ii) Future Prospects : 40%; iii) Deduction towards personal expenses : 1/4; iv) Total income : Rs. 1,05,000 p.a.; v) Multiplier : 16; vi) Loss of dependency : Rs. 16,80,000; vii) Loss of estate : Rs. 15,000; viii) Funeral expenses : Rs. 15,000; ix) Loss of consortium : Rs. 40,000 - Total compensation : Rs. 17,50,000.

It was observed that even though the Claimants/Appellants herein did not file an Appeal against the Award dated 22.12.2009 passed by the MACT   before   the   High   Court,   the SC deemed   it   appropriate   to enhance   the   compensation   by   exercising   its  jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India in order to do complete justice between the parties.

The Civil Appeal was allowed in the aforesaid terms.

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