Read Order: ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited v. Kartar Singh and others

LE Staff

Chandigarh, September 22, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently dismissed an Appeal filed by the appellant-Insurance Company, against the award passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Hoshiarpur.

By the Tribunal’s order a sum of approximately Rs.9 lakhs had been awarded on account of the death of Kanta Devi. Herein, the claimants are husband and children of the deceased.

From the appellant’s side it was vehemently submitted that that the Tribunal was not correct in foisting the compensation upon the appellant-company, being insurer of the offending vehicle. The first respondent was acquitted in the criminal proceedings on October 7, 2017 by the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Mukerian, on account of the complainant-Shamsher Singh and eye witness Lakhvir Singh having turned hostile

The Bench of Justice G.S.Sandhawalia stated that a perusal of the paper-book showed that the deceased who was stated to be household lady had crossed the second portion of the road after getting down from a tempo, when the insured Activa Scooter being driven by fifth respondent had struck her.

She had fallen on the ground and received injury on her head and also received multiple injuries on her person and died at the spot on August 15,2016. As per the Bench, it was not disputed that the FIR was also lodged on the same day under Sections 304-A & 279, IPC against the driver on the statement of Shamsher Singh, the brother of the deceased.

Given such circumstances, the Court was of the opinion that the argument as such that merely because they have been acquitted, would not absolve the insurance company of its responsibility to pay the amount of compensation.

The Bench referred to the judgment of the Apex Court in Sunita & others Vs. Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation & another wherein it has been held that the strict principles of proof in a criminal case will not be applicable in a claim for compensation under the Act and that the standard to be followed in such claims is one of preponderance of probability rather than one of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

The Tribunal found that the deceased was a household lady and had taken her income to be Rs.9,000/- per month. 1/3rd was deducted towards personal expenses on account of the fact that there were 4 claimants, out of which two were married and third one was in the police department. Addition of 10% had been made on account of future prospects. After deducting 1/3rd towards her personal expenses and loss of dependency, the annual income was assessed to be Rs.79,200/-.

Multiplier of 9 had been applied as the deceased was stated to be of 60 years of age and Rs.40,000/- per claimant had been awarded on account of loss of consortium and Rs.15,000/- each for funeral expenses and loss of estate had been awarded, to grant compensation of Rs.9,02,800/-. The same has also to be distributed amongst claimants in the ratio that the husband shall be entitled to get 40% share of compensation and remaining 60% shall be distributed amongst second and fourth claimant in equal shares, added the Bench.

Observing that the amount awarded is just compensation on account of the death of household lady whose contribution to the family as such cannot be discounted in any manner as per the settled principles by the Apex Court, the Bench clarified that the amount of Rs.25,000/- which was deposited with this Court be remitted to the Tribunal for adjustment against the amount awarded.

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