(Prayer: Appeal filed under Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 against the judgment and decree dated 23/7/2014, passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (Subordinate Judge's Court), Tiruttani, in M.C.O.P.No.170 of 2012.)
S. Manikumar, J.
1. Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment and decree, made in M.C.O.P.No.170 of 2012, dated 22/8/2013, on the file of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Court of Small Causes, Chennai.
2. Short facts leading to the appeal are that on 1/5/2012, at about 17.00 hours, while a passenger was trying to board a bus, bearing Registration No.TN21N-0688, near Lakshmapuram Village bus stop, on Tiruttani to Chennai road, the driver of the respondent bus, drove the same in a rash and negligent manner, he fell down from the bus. The injured was taken to Tiruttani for treatment. He succumbed to death.
3. Legal representatives of the deceased, viz., wife aged about 27 years, two minor children, aged about 10 and 7 years and mother of the deceased, joined together and filed M.C.O.P.No.170 of 2012, on the file of the Subordinate Judge, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Tiruttani, claiming compensation of Rs.20 lakhs. According to them, the deceased had a tyre puncture shop and earned Rs.9,000/- p.m.
4. Evaluating the pleadings and evidence, the Tribunal fixed the notional income of the deceased as Rs.9,000/-. Based on the entry made in Ex.P.2 post mortem certificate, age of the deceased has been determined as 30 years. The Tribunal had deducted 1/3rd towards the personal and living expenses of the deceased. The Tribunal applied 18 multiplier and computed the loss of contribution to the family as Rs.14,58,000/-. In addition to the above, the Tribunal has awarded Rs.1 lakh under the head Love and affection, Rs.50,000/- for loss of consortium to the first respondent/wife and Rs.20,000/- for funeral expenses. Altogether, the Tribunal has awarded Rs.16,28,000/- with interest, at the rate of 7.5% p.a., from the date of claim, till realisation.
5. Being aggrieved by the quantum of compensation, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, Villupuram Division, Kumbakonam has filed the instant appeal.
6. On this day, when the matter came up for hearing, Mr.P.Paramasiva Doss, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the only challenge made to the impugned judgment is on the quantum of compensation of Rs.16,28,000/- awarded to the legal representatives of the deceased/respondent Nos.1 to 4, with interest, at the rate of 7.5% p.a., from the date of claim, till the date of realisation.
7. He stated that the Tribunal has erred in fixing a notional income of Rs.9,000/-, for the purpose of computing the loss of contribution to the family and when the deceased was aged 30 years, the Tribunal, ought not to have applied multiplier, for the said purpose.
8. Submission is placed on record and therefore, there is no need to advert to the aspect of negligence and liability.
9. On the above contention, we have perused the impugned judgment. Deceased is stated to have owned a tyre puncture repair shop and earned Rs.9,000/- p.m. There was no income proof. However, having regard to the number of dependents, including two minor children and mother, one requires a reasonable income to provide food, shelter, clothing and to meet out other basic necessities. Needless to state that the cost of essential commodities, electricity, transportation, water and other charges are not static.
10. Out of the total monthly income of Rs.9,000/-, the annual income of the deceased is Rs.1,08,000/- and after deducting 1/4th, the annual income for the purpose of computation for loss of contribution to the family is Rs.81,000/- Applying 18 multiplier, Tribunal has computed the loss of income of Rs.14,58,000/- (81,000/- x 18).
11. As contended by the learned counsel for the appellants, if 17 multiplier is applied, the loss of contribution to the family would be Rs.81,000/- x 17=13,77,000/-. Excess amount under this head is Rs.81,000/-. At the time of accident, first respondent/wife was 27 years, Tribunal has awarded a lesser compensation of Rs.50,000/- only under the above head.
12. 'Consortium' as per the Best v. Samuel Fox reported in 1952 AC 716 means, "Duty owned by a wife to her husband and vice versa, companionship, love and affection, comfort, mutual services, sexual intercourse, etc." In Rajesh and others v. Rajbir Singh and others reported in 2013(3) CTC 883, the Apex Court, held as follows:
In legal parlance, 'Consortium' is the right of the spouse to the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, society, solace, affection and sexual relations with his or her mate. That non-pecuniary head of damages has not been properly understood by our Courts. The loss of companionship, love, care and protection, etc., the spouse is entitled to get, has to be compensated appropriately. The concept of non-pecuniary damage for Loss of Consortium is one of the major heads of award of compensation in other parts of the world more particularly in the United States of America, Australia, etc. English Courts have also recognized the right of a spouse to get compensation even during the period of temporary disablement. By Loss of Consortium, the Courts have made an attempt to compensate the loss of spouse's affection, comfort, solace, companionship, society, assistance, protection, care and sexual relations during the future years. Unlike the compensation awarded in other countries and other jurisdictions, since the legal heirs are otherwise adequately compensated for the pecuniary loss, it would not be proper to award a major amount under this head. Hence, we are of the view that it would only be just and reasonable that the Courts award atleast Rupees one lakh for Loss of Consortium.
13. Deceased is survived with two minor children, his wife and his mother. Tribunal has awarded a consolidated compensation of Rs.14,58,000/-, under the head compensation, which is less.
14. Quantum of Compensation of Rs.20,000/- awarded under the head, funeral expenses, is less. On the aspect of quantum of compensation, under the head, funeral expenses, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Rajesh and others Vs. Rajbir Singh and others reported in 2013(3) CTC 883, held as follows:
21. We may also take judicial notice of the fact that the Tribunals have been quite frugal with regard to award of compensation under the head 'Funeral Expenses'. The 'Price Index', it is a fact has gone up in that regard also. The head 'Funeral Expenses' does not mean the fee paid in the crematorium or fee paid for the use of space in the cemetery. There are many other expenses in connection with funeral and, if the deceased is follower of any particular religion, there are several religious practices and conventions pursuant to death in a family. All those are quite expensive. Therefore, we are of the view that it will be just, fair and equitable, under the head of 'Funeral Expenses', in the absence of evidence to the contrary for higher expenses, to award at least an amount of Rs.25,000/-.
15. Legal representatives of the deceased, particularly, the minor children have lost the love and affection of the deceased. In Rajesh v. Rajbir Singh reported in 2013 (2) TNMAC 55, the Hon'ble Apex Court has awarded Rs.1,00,000/- , each to the legal representatives of the deceased, towards loss of love and affection.
16. In view of the above decisions, the excess amount under the head loss of contribution to the family can be adjusted against the other heads, where the compensation awarded is less. Thus, while concurring with the finding of the Tribunal, Civil Miscellaneous Appeal is dismissed. No costs. Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, Villupuram Division III, Company is directed to deposit the entire award amount with proportionate interest and costs, less the statutory deposit to the credit of M.C.O.P.No.170 of 2012, on the file of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Tiruttani, within a period of four weeks, from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. Share of the minors shall be deposited in any one of the Nationalised Banks in fixed deposit under the reinvestment scheme initially for a period of three years. The interest accruing on the share of the minors shall be paid to the 1st respondent/mother of the minors once in three months, till they attain majority. On such deposit being made, except the minors, the respondents/claimants are permitted to withdraw the award amount as apportioned by the tribunal, by making necessary applications.