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[MACT] ‘Loss of love and affection’ is comprehended in ‘loss of consortium’, not to be awarded under separate head: SC

The SC on September 07, 2020 {THE NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED vs. SMT. SOMWATI AND OTHERS} held that the claimant in a claim for award of compensation under Section 166 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is entitled for just compensation. It was held that the just compensation has to be equitable and fair. It was further held that the loss of life and limb can never be compensated in an equal measure but the statutory provisions under Motor Vehicles Act is a social piece of legislation which has been enacted with intent and object to facilitate the claimants to get redress for the loss of the member of family, compensate the loss in some measure and to compensate the claimant to a reasonable extent.

It was observed by the Bench, comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan & Justice R. Subhash Reddy, that earlier the Three-Judge Bench approved the comprehensive interpretation given to the expression ‘consortium’ to include spousal consortium, parental consortium as well as filial consortium. It was further observed that Three-Judge Bench also laid down that ‘loss of love and affection’ is comprehended in ‘loss of consortium’, hence, there is no justification to award compensation towards ‘loss of love and affection’ as a separate head. 

It was held that it is thus now authoritatively well settled that no compensation can be awarded under the head ‘loss of love and affection’.

In the present appeals before the SC, only issue to be considered was with regard to award of compensation to the claimant under two heads, i.e., (a)loss of consortium and (b) loss of love and affection. With regard to ‘consortium’, the question was as to whether it is only the wife who is entitled for consortium or the consortium can be awarded to children and parents also.

The SC in present case held as earlier Three-Judge Bench has categorically laid down that apart from spousal consortium, parental and filial consortium is payable. It was held that the SC is bound by the earlier judgment of Three Judge Bench. It was held that it cannot accept the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that the amount of consortium awarded to each of the claimants is not sustainable.

The SC found the impugned judgments of the High Court awarding consortium to each of the claimants  in accordance with law which does not warrant any interference in this appeal. The SC, however, accepted the submissions of learned counsel for the appellant that there is no justification for award of compensation under separate head ‘loss of love and affection’. It was held that the appeal filed by the appellant deserves to be allowed insofar as the award of compensation under the head ‘loss of love and affection’. 

In result, all the appeals were partly allowed by the SC. The award of compensation under the conventional head ‘loss of love and affection’ was set aside. 

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