HC rejects Tribunal`s contention; hikes compensation

The Tribunals are not expected to turn a Nelson`s eye to the private evidence and to act on whims and fancies or presumptions.

Updated: Jul 24, 2012, 21:35 PM IST

Madurai: Madras High Court bench on Tuesday rejected the Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation Tribunal that a person aged 60, who was killed in an accident would not have been in a position to earn a livelihood and would have been dependant on her sons and enhanced compensation awarded by a lower court.

Allowing an appeal by two sons of a woman fruit vendor, who was earning around Rs 3000 a month, Justice S Vimala agreed with appelant`s counsel that though the deceased was aged, her sons were dependant on her and she was heading the family.

"Just because the petitioners have attained majority it cannot be concluded they cannot be dependents. Maybe the nature of dependency may vary, depending upon needs of the children. But it can never be said they could not be the dependants."

He enhanced compensation awarded by a lower court from Rs one lakh to Rs 2.31 lakh, saying there could never be retirement age for a mother. There may be retirement from government or private service and not from household work. Aged women are not accustomed to the concept of tiredness.

It was common knowledge that aged parents remained the beacon light for future generations in the family.

The Judge said the Tribunal could take note of the fact there were old persons on wheelchairs, seen on moving trains and markets, sitting and doing business.

"Just because the deceased was aged the contention that she was not earning cannot be accepted. When there is escalation in costs, nobody can afford to sit and eat. In this case there is positive evidence, as contended by the appellants that their mother was engaged in fruit selling."

The Tribunals are not expected to turn a Nelson`s eye to the private evidence and to act on whims and fancies or presumptions.

This type of approach towards award of compensation would frustrate the object of legislation.

The Judge said considering the evidence she was earning Rs 3,000 a month, deducting Rs 1,000 for her personal expenses, the monthly dependency would be Rs. 2000. Total compensation towards loss of dependency would come to Rs 2.16 lakh.

The lower court had awarded Rs one lakh and directed the National Insurance Company to give it to her two sons. The balance should be paid within eight weeks.

The woman died on Jan 28 2010 after being hit by a car. Her sons demanded compensation of Rs eight lakh, as they were completely dependent on their mother.

The tribunal awarded Rs one lakh just "for loss of love and affection" No compensation was awarded under any other head. Hence this appeal.