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Y.R. Nagaraju Vs. United India Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberM.F.A. No. 2670 of 1984
Judge
Reported inILR1990KAR3590
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110B
AppellantY.R. Nagaraju
RespondentUnited India Fire and General Insurance Co. Ltd.
Appellant AdvocateH.N. Narayan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateRangavittalachar for R-1, Adv.
DispositionAppeal partly allowed
Excerpt:
..... vehicles act, 1939 (central act no. 4 of 1939) - section 110b - loss of services as wife & mother: compensation - principles loss of dependency includes goods & services - loss of services as wife & mother to be sounded in terms of money - services lost not inconsiderable - award of money-compensation only manner of compensation for loss - 10 to 12 years period of loss for children with uncertainties & vicissi­tudes of their own future considered -in case of husband, less subject to contin­gency of re-marriage.; the valuation of loss of services as wife and mother and compensation awardable, arising for consideration:; the loss of dependency need not, necess­arily be confined to money-payments. it also includes goods and services. the deceased had no..........put the estimates down.8. having regard to all the circumstances, we are inclined to award for the loss of services of the deceased to the appellants at rs. 125/- p.m. this we think should be capitalised on 8 years' purchase-value. this would amount to rs. 12,000/-. to this must be added the award for the loss to the estate in the sum of rs. 6,000/- and a further sum of rs. 4,000/- towards loss of consortium. we will maintain the award made by the tribunal of rs. 1,000/- made for transportation-charges and rs. 2,000/- for funeral expenses.this brings the total to rs. 25,000/-. we award this sum on which the claimants would be entitled to interest at 6% per annum from the date of the petition till payment. out of this sum, rs. 7,000/- with proportionate accrued interest shall be paid over.....
Judgment:

M.N. Venkatachaliah, J.

1. This appeal is in the list of cases for orders for the day. Respondents have been notified. The appeal is admitted and with the consent of learned Counsel on both sides the appeal is taken-up for final hearing, heard and disposed of by this Judgment.

The appeal is by the claimants for enhancement of compensation arising out of a claim in a fatal accident's action. The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Banglore Rural District, Bangalore, by its Award, dated 11-5-1984, made in MVC No. 115 of 1981 on its file, has awarded a compensation of Rs. 9,000/- for the death of Renuka, a house-wife aged 22 years. The claimants are the husband and the two minor sons, who were, then, aged 4 and 2 years, respectively.

2. The accident occurred at about 7-30 p.m. on 2-4-1981 on the Bangalore-Mysore High way, near Byrapatna village. The deceased was a pillion rider on a scooter. Lorry TNJ 9707 which was proceeding in the opposite direction collided against the scooter. Both the driver of the scooter and the pillion rider succumbed to the injuries. There was a separate claim arising out of the death of the scooter-driver.

3. The reasoning of the Tribunal in awarding Rs. 9,000/- is this:

'In MVC 115/1981 the claimants are the husband and two minor children of Renuka. It is on record that Renuka was not an earning member. Nagaraju (P.W-4) stated that on account of his wife's death he was put to great misery and mental suffering and he is forced to engage a servant to look after the children. This person has not married again. It is also in his evidence that he had to spend Rs. 1,000/-to hire a taxi for taking the dead body to his native place besides spending Rs. 3,000/-for funeral etc. There can be no doubt that the claimants in MVC 115/1981 are deprived of the care affection and other services which the lady was rendering as a member of the household. It cannot be gain said that these persons, and particularly the minor children, must have been put to considerable grief, mental suffering and loss of happy association on account of her passing away. This is a sufficient injury causing loss although not capable of a tape measurement. I am of the view that taking all things into consideration it would be serve the ends of justice by granting a consolidated sum of Rs. 9,000/- as compensation considering all heads with a direction that the same shall be equally divisible among the husband and two sons.'

Sri H.N. Narayan, learned Counsel for the appellant submitted that in awarding the compensation, the Tribunal had not taken into account several compensation heads of award. Sri Rangavittalachar, learned Counsel appearing for the insured-respondent No. 1 in this appeal, however, sought to support the award, not so much on the ground that some additional compensation under certain other heads were not legally permissible, as on the ground that the claimants had not placed any material before the Court to assess the quantum in that behalf.

4. The point that arises for determination in this appeal is whether the amount awarded is inadequate and whether the loss of the services of the deceased as wife of the 1st appellant and as mother of appellants 2 and 3 requires to be valued and compensated.

5. The hard facts in this case are that the tortious act of the driver of the lorry has left the two children, then aged 4 and 2 years respectively, orphaned. The emotional wrench of the death of a mother on the children, particularly of that age, is, perhaps, colossal. But, there can, perhaps, be no award of damages on emotional and sentimental grounds for grief and sorrow of the dependants. In TAFF VALE RAILWAY COMPANY v. JEN KINS, 1913 Appeal Cases 1 it was observed:

'...The basis is not what has been called solatium, that is to say, damages given for injured feelings or on the ground of sentiment, but damages based on compensation for a pecuniary loss...'

In DAVIES AND ANR. v. POWELL DUFFRYN ASSOCIATED COLLIERIES, LIMITED, 1942 Appeal Cases 601 Lord Wright said:

'...There is no question here of what may be called sentimental damage, bereavement or pain and suffering. It is a hard matter of pounds, shillings and pence, subject to the element of reasonable future probabilities...'

6. The loss of dependency need not, necessarily, be confined to money-payments. It also includes goods and services. The deceased had no employment. Her contribution to the family was only in the form of services. The loss of the services of the deceased as wife and mother would also require to be sounded in terms of monev. The children are entitled to recover for what they lost on account of the mother's death for what she might have done for them in the form of services. The value of a mother's personal attention, quite apart from love and affection, to an infant's upbringing, morals, education and psychology, have a far deeper meaning and go beyond mere emotional values and has a pecuniary value in the long-run. The difficulties of precise assessment and evaluation of these Services should not detract from the recognition of this head of compensation. It is not a solatium for injured, emotional feelings of the child; but is as tangible as is well recognised as a compensation loss, There is no compulsion of authorities to look at the meaning of 'services' much too narrowly either.

Referring to the award of damages for dependent children arising out of death of the mother, it is observed:

'The pecuniary advantage, which has been lost, need not have been received in the form of money or goods, but may have been derived from services rendered by the deceased. So, a workman was held entitled to recover damages in respect of the death of his wife, because she used to do his housekeeping and on her death he had to employ and pay a housekeeper who was not able to manage as economically as his wife used to do. In determining the pecuniary value to be put on the services that used to be rendered by the deceased to her family, acknowledgement should be given to the fact of the constant attendance of a mother on her children. The value so placed upon such services ought not to be limited to a mere computation of the cost of the services of a house-keeper, minus an estimate of the cost of maintaining the deceased wife.' (See: Charlesworth on Negligence, 7th Edition, 1981, page 986 - Emphasis supplied)

In REGAN v. WILLIAMSON, 1976(1) W.L.R. 305 it was observed:

'...I am, with due respect to the other Judges to whom I have been referred, of the view that the word 'services' has been too narrowly construed. It should, at least, include an acknowledgement that a wife and mother does not work to set hours and, still less, to rule. She is in constant attendance, save for those hours when she is, if that is the fact, at work. During some of those hours she may well give the children instruction on essential matters to do with their upbringing and, possibly, with such things as their homework. This sort of attention seems to be as much of a service, and probably more valuable to them, than the other kinds of service conventionally so regarded.'

7. But, it is, however, true, as urged by Sri Rangavittalachar that these are matters of evidence and the loss has to be quantified in the light of the evidence placed before the Court. In the present case the evidence on the point is sketchy and not particularly to the point. There is no evidence as to how good a mother she was and how good a manager of the family-income. We do not know anything of her health; abilities at management of the household and other related qualities. But there are broad indications that she was, perhaps as good a wife and a mother, as could, generally, be expected.

However, it appears to us, that having regard to the general circumstances of the case it should be possible to make a reasonable estimate, though only as a rough and ready one, of what might possibly be the money-value of the services that the husband and children have lost in the death of the mother. The loss of a mother for children of that age and the areas in which the loss would be felt are such as cannot possibly be compensated in terms of money at all. But awards in money are given for some aspects of the loss recognised in law because the award of money-compensation is the only manner in which taw compensates for the loss. Apart from the consideration of the wise and economical management of the household and its economy which is relevant in the estimate of the loss to be made in favour of the husband, so far as the children are concerned, we think, having regard to the circumstances of this case, the services lost to them is not inconsiderable. The children are aged 4 and 2 respectively. The age upto which the services of a mother are of particular value to them cannot be a matter which could be limited by law. Indeed, in emotional terms, the services of a mother endure as long as that relationship lasts, irrespective of whether the off-spring is a son or a daughter. But for purposes of compensation, the age upto which they can be said to benefit from services has to have some limitations. In the present-case we think a period of 10 to 12 years from death could be said to be period of loss so far the children are concerned. In the case of the husband it would perhaps be less, subject to a further contingency of remarriage. But in this case the children are very young and the uncertainties of the future are many. The uncertainties and vicissitudes of their own future should also be put into the scales to put the estimates down.

8. Having regard to all the circumstances, we are inclined to award for the loss of services of the deceased to the appellants at Rs. 125/- P.M. This we think should be capitalised on 8 years' purchase-value. This would amount to Rs. 12,000/-. To this must be added the award for the loss to the estate in the sum of Rs. 6,000/- and a further sum of Rs. 4,000/- towards loss of consortium. We will maintain the award made by the Tribunal of Rs. 1,000/- made for transportation-charges and Rs. 2,000/- for funeral expenses.

This brings the total to Rs. 25,000/-. We award this sum on which the claimants would be entitled to interest at 6% per annum from the date of the petition till payment. Out of this sum, Rs. 7,000/- with proportionate accrued interest shall be paid over to the first-claimant husband. The balance of Rs. 18,000/-, and proportionate accrued interest thereon, shall be invested during the period of the minority of the children. The interest accruing thereon from time to time shall be paid over to the father to be spent on the welfare and upbringing of the children.

The claimants will move the Tribunal for appropriate direction as to investment. We may place on record the submission made by Sri H.N. Narayan that investment in a Government-Company may fetch higher returns. He sought to point out that both Nationalised Banks and companies of Government of India are owned by Government of India and that there should be no difference between the two investments from the point of view of the security of the investment. Since the Tribunal has to make, and administer, the investments during the period of minority of the children we think it appropriate to leave this matter entirely to the Tribunal itself.

9. In the result the appeal is allowed in part and the compensation enhanced from Rs. 9,000/- to Rs. 25,000/-. This amount awarded shall carry interest at 6% from the date of petition till realisation. No costs.


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