Twenty-seven years into a legal battle, a family has finally got the arbitration in its favour in an accident claim case.
A bench of the Gujarat High Court directed that the mother, wife and children of a deceased person who worked abroad be given a compensation of Rs 37 lakh under the Motor Accident Claims laws.
The HC turned down the compensation awarded by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal in Himmatnagar which had not taken into consideration the income of the man while he was living and working in Kuwait. The claims tribunal had issued compensation of merely Rs 4 lakh to the family.
The HC said the tribunal did not rely on the income certificate issued by the deceased man’s employer in Kuwait on the grounds that the witness examination could not be done to prove the family as the man was working abroad. The tribunal later granted a compensation of Rs 4.09 lakh towards loss of dependency and other heads.
However, the HC did not subscribe to the Tribunal’s views and stated that rigorous proofs are not required in such cases. “The Tribunal failed to appreciate the fact that in compensation cases arising under the Motor Vehicles Act, rigorous proof is not required as in a criminal or civil suit,” said the court. It said that to determine the just and proper compensation, the obligation is put on the courts to award adequate compensation which is fair and equitable to make good the loss suffered as a result of wrongdoer but, at the same time may not be intended to be a bonanza, largesse or source of profit.
“Thus, the Courts are expected to view through a prism of fairness, reasonableness and non-violation of the principle of equitability,” said a bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav and Justice Nisha Thakore.
“We are conscious of the fact that upon the untimely death of the head of the family, heirs of the deceased are brought into a situation of uncertainty. However, at the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that the nature of work of the deceased was not permanent and in the case of daily rated employees there are chances of termination at the whims and fancy of the sponsors,” the bench said.
“In the peculiar facts of the case, the document in the nature of the end of service brought on record by the original claimants cannot be ignored which goes to indicate that the deceased was earning an amount during the time of the accident which was beyond the notional income as taken into consideration by the Tribunal,” it said.
It further said a close examination of the aforesaid documents suggested that the same has been compared with the original document and approved as a correct copy by the Indian Embassy in Kuwait. “Thus, the same has been exhibited and admitted as evidence,” the bench observed while believing the income certificate issued by the foreign employer.
The court counted a per annum income of Rs 2.69 lakh of the man as per the Indian currency and awarded compensation of Rs37 lakh to be paid by the insurance company to the family of the deceased.
The man who was working in Kuwait as a daily wager had come to attend a wedding in Himmatnagar in 1997. He met with an accident while travelling in a private transport vehicle and succumbed to injuries. Later the family filed a claims petition in the Tribunal.
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