1. The dependants of the deceased being aggrieved by the judgment and award dated 3rd January, 2001 passed in M.V.C. No. 1299 of 1998 on the file of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Chitradurga (for short, 'the MACT), have preferred this appeal under Section 173(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (for short, 'the Act'), seeking more compensation. The facts of the case as stated by the claimants in their claim statement in brief are as follows:
The fact that the deceased Puttamma died in an accident caused due to rash and negligent driving of an autorickshaw bearing Registration No. KA-16/6189 by its driver is not in controversy. According to the claimants the deceased was 35 years aged on the date of accident; she was earning monthly income of Rs. 3,000 as vegetable vendor. On that basis, the claimants claimed total compensation of Rs. 5,00,000/- under various heads.
2. The MACT having opined that the claimants have not produced any satisfactory proof with regard to the income of the deceased took the monthly income of the deceased notionally at the rate of Rs. 1,200/- and on that basis and after deducting 1/3rd of the same towards personal expenses computed loss of dependency in a sum of Rs. 1,44,000/- by applying multiple 15. In addition, the MACT has awarded a sum of Rs. 5,000/- towards loss of consortium, Rs. 10,000/- towards loss of expectancy of life, Rs. 5,000/- for transportation of dead body and funeral expenses. Thus, the MACT has awarded total compensation of Rs. 1,64,000/- with interest at 6% per annum from the date of claim petition till its realisation.
3. The learned Counsel for the claimants, while assailing the correctness of the quantum of compensation awarded by the MACT, would contend that the MACT has seriously erred in law as well as on facts in taking the income of the deceased only at the rate of Rs. 1,200/- per month. According to the learned Counsel, the MACT has completely failed to take into account the money value of the services rendered by the deceased as a wife to her husband and as the mother of four minor children. Learned Counsel would also contend that appropriate compensation is not awarded under conventional heads.
4. Having heard the learned Counsels for the parties, the only question that arises for decision is whether total compensation of Rs. 1,64,000/- awarded under various heads by the MACT could be regarded as just and reasonable compensation within the contemplation of the Act. The fact that the deceased was a house lady and she was aged 35 years on the date of the accident and death is not in controversy. Although, the claimants claimed that the deceased used to earn a sum of Rs. 3,000/- per month as a vegetable vendor, in support of that plea they have not produced any direct evidence. But, that circumstance should not cloud the mind of the Court in assessing the value of the services rendered by the deceased house lady to the husband and minor children. The deceased has left behind her four young children and their upbringing on account of untimely demise of the deceased would undoubtedly be arrested and impaired. The value of the services rendered by the deceased should be assessed in terms of money and appropriate compensation should be awarded. In Lata Wadhwa and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Ors. : (2001)IILLJ1559SC , the Supreme Court assessed the value of the services of a housewife concerned therein at Rs. 36,000/- per annum.
5. The MACT itself has pointed out that the claimants being the members of a poor family, the elder members of the family undertake some or the other work for wages to supplement the family income. In that view of the matter and having regard to the fact that the deceased had shouldered the onerous responsibility of upbringing the four minor children, it cannot be said that the claim of the appellants that the deceased was earning a sum of Rs. 3,000/- per month is imaginary or incredible. Therefore, we lake the income of the deceased at the rate of Rs. 3,000/- per month and if we deduct 1/3rd of the same towards personal expenses of the deceased, the actual loss of dependency per month would be Rs. 2,000/-. The deceased was aged 35 years and, therefore, appropriate multiple to be applied is '15'. Thus, the appellants will be entitled to a sum of Rs. 3,60,000/- (2000 x 12 x 15) towards loss of dependency.
6. We also agree with the contention of the learned Counsel for the appellants that the compensation awarded under conventional heads are also on lower side. The compensation to be awarded under conventional heads should reflect the influences of time, place, vicissitudes and inflationary trends in cost of living and facts and circumstances of individual case. We may take judicial notice of the fact that the MACTs have been awarding compensation under the conventional heads at the same rates at which they used to award compensation under those heads decades back. In our considered opinion this is totally erroneous and it would not be in consonance with the justice perception nor with the statutory intendment of just and reasonable compensation. The MACTs are duty-bound to determine just and reasonable compensation under each and every permissible head and, therefore, they cannot fetter their own discretion by standardizing compensation at a pre-determined static rates and award compensation under conventional heads at such rates at all times to come regardless of the changed circumstances in money value. Compensation under conventional heads should also be reasonable and adequate. Compensation is not awarded as a token of gratuitous act. Compensation has to compensate the injuries sustained by the injured or the dependants of the deceased to the extent possible in terms of money. We hope and trust that the MACTs in the State, functioning under the Motor Vehicles Act, would bear these observations in mind at least hereafter words while awarding compensation under conventional heads.
7. We, having taken into account the totality of the circumstances of the case, award a sum of Rs. 20,000/- towards loss of consortium, Rs. 20,000/-for loss of filial love and Rs. 20,000/- towards loss to estate. We do not find any justification to enhance compensation awarded towards funeral expenses. In the result, we allow the appeal in part with costs and in substitution of the impugned award, we award total compensation of Rs. 4,25,000/- under the following heads:
(1) Loss of dependency - Rs. 3,60,000/-(2) Logs of consortium - Rs. 20,000/-(3) Loss of filial love - Rs. 20,000/-(4) Loss of estate - Rs. 20,000/-(5) Transportation of deadbody and funeralexpenses - Rs. 5,000/-Total - Rs. 4,25,000/-
with interest at 6% from the date of petition till the date of realisation. Insurance Company shall deposit the compensation money within one month from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgment minus (-) money already deposited or paid towards compensation and on such deposit being made, the MACT is directed to disburse 7 deposit in the same proportions as specified by the MACT in the impugned award. Advocate's fee is fixed at Rs. 1,500/-.