Oral Judgment: (U.V. Bakre, J.)
1.This appeal is directed against the Judgment and Award dated 30.6.2007 passed by the Learned Presiding Officer of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, South Goa, Margao (“Tribunal”, for short), in Claim Petition No. 321/2003/II, whereby the said claim petition has been partly allowed.
2. The appellant had filed the said claim petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (M.V. Act, for short) thereby claiming total compensation of Rs.12.00,000/- on account of injuries sustained by her in a motor vehicular accident, which injuries resulted into permanent disability.
3. Facts of the case are as follows:
On 16.5.2003, at about 17.30 hours, the claimant was standing on the left hand side of the road at Devenbag Tarir, Canacona, Goa, when the respondent no. 2 drove his tanker bearing registration no. GDS-5523 in a rash and negligent manner and dashed against the appellant, due to which she fell down and the wheels of the tanker ran over her feet. The claimant sustained injuries to both her legs in the form of crush injuries to the left and right feet with separation of sole, which resulted into a permanent disability of 30%, involving both the lower limbs.
4. The respondents no. 1 and 3 filed their written statement, before the Tribunal.
5. Upon consideration of the entire evidence on record the Tribunal held that the respondent no. 2 was rash and negligent in driving the said tanker and that the wheels of the said tanker ran over her feet resulting in crush injuries and permanent disability. The Tribunal awarded total compensation of Rs.1,17,880/- (Rupees One lakh seventeen thousand eight hundred eighty only) to the claimant. Since the claimant had already received Rs. 25,000/- (Rupees Twenty five thousand only) vide order dated 9.11.2004 under “No fault liability” the said amount was adjusted from the final compensation. The claimant has thus been awarded additional compensation of Rs.92,800/- under Section 166 of the M.V. Act along with simple interest thereon at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of filing of the petition i.e. from 19.11.2003 till the entire amount is paid. The liability has been fastened, jointly and severally, on all the respondents.
6. The claimant has filed the present appeal. The respondents have not challenged the judgment and award.
7. The short point that arises for determination is as to what should be the fair and adequate compensation for permanent disability suffered by the claimant.
8. Mr. Anthony D'Silva, learned counsel on behalf of the claimant, submitted that the claimant was a fish vendor earning about Rs. 200/- to Rs. 250/- per day and she has deposed to this effect. According to him, the Tribunal has wrongly held that notional income of the claimant should be considered as Rs.1250/- per month. He has relied upon “Nagarajappav. Divisional Manager, Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd.”(AIR 2011 S.C. 1785), wherein the claimant was working as a coolie and had claimed to be earning Rs. 4500/- per month, but since the same was not supported by documentary evidence, the tribunal presumed his income to be Rs. 3000/- per month. He pointed out that the High Court also took the income of the said claimant as Rs. 3000/- per month and the Hon'ble Supreme Court maintained the income of the claimant at Rs. 3000/- per month. He, therefore, urged that in the present case also monthly income of the claimant should be taken as Rs. 3000/-. He took us through the evidence of Aw. 2, Dr. Yuri Dias Amborkar. In his cross-examination, Aw.2 has stated that the patient has still not recovered from the injuries and that he last attended the patient sometime in May of the year 2006. According to the learned counsel, therefore, since the accident had occurred in the year 2003, the actual loss of income should have been calculated for three years. It is also his submission that on account of permanent disability sustained by her, there is loss of amenities and the claimant who is a spinster has lost her marriage prospects. He pointed out from the impugned judgment that no compensation has been awarded on this ground. It is the grievance of the claimant, as contended by learned counsel, that towards pain and suffering, only an amount of Rs. 5000/- has been awarded by the Tribunal. Learned Advocate for the claimant pointed out that in the case of “Nagarajappa” (supra), an amount of Rs. 40,000/- was granted towards pain and suffering. According to him, the said case is similar to the present case as far as injuries are concerned. He also contended that evidence on record reveals that the claimant has been advised further surgery to both her heels. According to Mr. D'Silva, therefore, compensation towards further medical expenses ought to have been granted. In this regard, he has relied upon “Sapna Vs. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. and Anr.” (AIR 2008 S.C. 2281), wherein it has been held by the Apex Court that requirement of any further medical treatment should also be considered. Learned counsel for the claimant has also relied upon “AmarSingh v. Ishwar and others” (AIR 1999 S.C 3448), wherein the Tribunal had awarded Rs.50,000/- towards pain, shock and suffering and the Hon'ble Supreme Court enhanced the award on that head by Rs. 50,000/- more. Mr. D'Silva, therefore, urged that the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is not just and reasonable and that the same requires to be enhanced substantially.
9. All the respondents are absent, though they were duly notified.
10. We have perused the records and proceedings, considered the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the claimant and also the citations relied upon by him.
11. The claimant has examined herself as Aw.1, Dr. Yuri Dias Amborkar as Aw. 2, Ms. Deepali Pagi, a Nurse as Aw. 3, and Mr. Sylvester Rodrigues, owner of Maruti van as Aw. 4. The respondents did not lead any evidence.
12. In the claim petition, the claimant stated that her occupation is a fish vendor and her monthly income is Rs. 6000/- approximately that is, Rs. 200/- to Rs. 250/- per day. The respondents no.1 and 3 had denied the same in their written statement. In her Affidavit-in-Evidence filed in lieu of the Examination-in-Chief, Aw.1 has repeated the same thing which has been averred in the claim petition. However, in her crossexamination, it is specifically denied that she was selling fish and earning Rs. 200/- to Rs. 250/- per day by selling fish. The claimant has not produced any supporting evidence to establish that she used to buy fish from someone and then sell it personally. The claimant has also not examined any customer who used to buy fish from her. She has also not stated the manner in which she was selling fish as to whether she used to move from house to house with the basket containing fish or whether she was selling the fish by sitting at market place or any other place. The learned Tribunal has observed that in the absence of cogent and convincing evidence on the said subject, it cannot be said that the claimant was earning Rs. 200/- to Rs.250/- per day. The Tribunal has held that it has no other option than to consider the notional income of the claimant as Rs.1250/- per month. It can be understood that the claimant has been held to be simply a housewife and, therefore, the Tribunal has considered nominal income at Rs.1250/- per month. This only means that the claimant was not selling fish or was not doing any work or business, for earning money. In spite of the above, the Tribunal has considered that the claimant was admitted to Hospicio hospital on 16.5.2003 and lastly discharged on 15.10.2003 and there is actual loss of income for the said period of five months. Considering that the notional income of the claimant was Rs.1250/-, the Tribunal has awarded the sum of Rs. 6250/- towards actual loss of income. In our considered opinion, since only notional income was considered, the claimant was not earning anything actually and, therefore, no amount of compensation could have been awarded towards actual loss of income.
13. In so far as medical expenses are concerned, the claimant (AW.1) has stated that she has spent about Rs.60,000/- towards purchase of medicines and had incurred expenses of about Rs.6000/- at Kasturba Hospital, Manipal. With regard to the medical expenses, the claimant has produced medical bills which are at Exhibit 41 - colly and the evidence of AW.2, Dr. Amborkar reveals that the said bills are from authorized Medical Counters in Goa Medical College, Bambolim campus. The said medical bills make a total of Rs. 60,000/-. In so far as the claim of Rs. 6000/- towards the expenses allegedly incurred at Kasturba hospital, Manipal, is concerned, the Tribunal found that one of the bills marked “X-3” is actually in the name of the claimant and the amount towards the same is Rs.750/-. The Tribunal has, therefore, held that the claimant has proved that she is entitled to claim Rs. 60,750/- towards medical expenses. We find that the Tribunal is right in awarding the said sum towards medical expenses.
14. The claimant had claimed a sum of Rs.12,300/- towards engagement of a nurse for doing the dressing of the wounds for a period of 52 days from 18.7.2003 to 4.9.2003 and from 15.10.2003 to 19.11.2003. According to the claimant, she was paying Rs.150/- per day to the said nurse. In this regard, the claimant has examined the said nurse namely Deepali Pagi, AW.3, who has fully corroborated AW.1. Therefore, the Tribunal has rightly held that the claimant is entitled to the said sum of Rs.12,300/-.
15. Towards transport charges, the claimant has been awarded the sum of Rs.13,500/-, which she had claimed. In this regard, the claimant has examined Silvestro Rodrigues, AW.4. His evidence reveals that he is the owner of Maruti van and he had given said van on hire with “Blue Welkin Taxi Service” at Palolem, Canacona, Goa and that the claimant had hired the same on 15 occasions, on different dates, to go from Palolem to Goa Medical College, Bambolim and vice versa. AW.4 has produced the taxi bills, which are at exhibit 49 - colly. Therefore, we are of the view that the claimant has been rightly held to be entitled to the said sum of Rs.13,500/- towards transport expenses.
16. In so far as of the grievance of the claimant that no compensation towards further medical expenses has been awarded, is concerned, we find that in the case of “Sapna” (supra), the Hon'ble Apex Court has observed thus:
“Therefore, in a case where injury to a victim requires periodical medicinal expenses, fresh award cannot be passed or previous award cannot be reviewed when the medical expenses are incurred after finalization of the compensation proceedings. Hence, the only alternative is that at the time of passing of final award, the Tribunal/Court should consider such eventuality and fix compensation accordingly. No one can suggest that it is improper to take into account expenditure genuinely and reasonably required to be incurred for future medical expenses. Future medical expenses required to be incurred can be determined only on the basis of fair guesswork after taking into account increase in the cost of medical treatment.”
17. The Tribunal has found that the claimant was required to undergo operation of micro- vascular reconstruction, since she was suffering from heel avulsion defect. The Tribunal has held that it appears that the claimant has not undergone this surgery on account of financial difficulties. The learned Tribunal also found that the evidence of AW.2, Dr. Amborkar reveals that in the absence of surgery, the claimant would suffer deformity of a residual nature. Learned Advocate for the claimant had relied upon various citations, before the Tribunal, to indicate that the quantum of amount to be paid has to be in the light of period of hospitalization, nature of injuries, operation and other treatment so also by considering the fact that person having injuries of crushing of legs would have to live with frustration and disappointment through out her life. Considering the nature of injuries sustained by the claimant and also considering the admitted fact that claimant had to undergo operations in Goa Medical College, Bambolim on 28.5.2003, 7.6.2003 and on 9.9.2003, the Tribunal has awarded an additional compensation of Rs. 20,000/- to the claimant. Indisputably, operations which are carried out in Goa Medical College hospital, Bambolim which is a Government owned hospital, are without charging any fees. In spite of that, an amount of Rs. 20,000/- has been awarded as additional compensation to the claimant on the ground that she had to undergo operations in G.M.C., Bambolim. To recapitulate, the Tribunal has also awarded a sum of Rs. 6250/- towards actual loss of income, which according to us, the claimant was not entitled to. Since in terms of the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of “Sapna” (supra), the claimant is entitled to further medical expenses, we are of the view that the said amount of Rs.20,000/- plus Rs.6250/- that is Rs. 26,250/-, (Rupees twenty six thousand two hundred fifty only) can be considered as compensation towards future medical expenses. Therefore, no further amount is required to be awarded to the claimant, under this head.
18. The next grievance of the claimant is that since there is permanent disability, there is loss of amenities and marriage prospects have been jeopardized, in the case of the claimant who is a young spinster. However, a perusal of the claim petition reveals that no amount of compensation has been claimed on this ground. Be that as it may, it is seen from the records that the claimant had sustained permanent disability to the extent of 30%, of both lower limbs. She had a deformity. She sustained injuries to both her heels and skin grafting had to be carried out. It can be easily said that the claimant underwent lot of pain, shock and sufferings. In the case of “Nagarajappa” (supra), the claimant sustained injuries of compound fracture of ulnar styloid process of the left hand and subluxation of the left wrist. The doctor had assessed disability at 23% of the whole body. An amount of Rs. 40,000/- was awarded towards pain and suffering. The Hon'ble Apex Court has maintained the said amount towards pain and suffering. Then in the case of “AmarSingh” (supra), the Tribunal had awarded Rs.50,000/- towards pain, shock and suffering. However, considering the peculiar facts of that case, where the victim had suffered prolonged period of hospitalization, had undergone operations and had sustained permanent disability to the tune of 30%, though there was no shortening of leg, the Hon'ble Apex Court enhanced the award on that head by Rs. 50,000/-. We are of the view that the claimant is entitled to a sum of Rs. 40,000/- (Rupees forty thousand only) on account of pain, shock and sufferings. The Tribunal has awarded a meager amount of Rs. 5,000/- towards pain and suffering. The claimant is, therefore, entitled to additional amount of Rs. 35,000/- (Rupees Thirty five thousand only) and that is towards pain, shock and suffering.
19. In our view, therefore, the appeal succeeds partly to the extent of additional compensation of Rs.35,000/- (Rupees Thirty five thousand only). The impugned award is liable to be modified to that effect.
20. In the result, we pass the following order:
a) The appeal is partly allowed.
b) In addition to the amount of compensation of Rs.92,800/- awarded by the Tribunal, further amount of Rs.35,000/- (Rupees Thirty five thousand only) is awarded to the claimant and the entire additional amount of compensation of Rs.1,27,800/- shall be paid to the claimant along with simple interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of filing of the petition from 19.11.2003 till the date of payment of the entire amount. The amount awarded shall be paid jointly and severally by the respondents.
c) Appeal stands disposed of accordingly with no order as to costs.