Award adequate compensation: SC

A Bench asked the motor accident claim tribunals to deal with the cases “proactively” to award adequate compensation to the victims.

“This court has, from time to time, expressed concern over the increasing number of motor accidents and pendency of large number of cases involving adjudication of claims made by the legal representatives of the deceased and also by those who suffer injuries and disabilities of various types as a result of accidents.”

“The statistics compiled by the Transport Research Wing of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, New Delhi show that between 2004 and 2008, more than 5,00,000 people lost their lives and about 22,60,000 people were injured,” the apex court said.
The table containing the details of road accidents in India (2004-2008) as published in the report titled “Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, 2008” by National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs.

Insurance hardships
The court also pointed out the hardships caused to the people - the road accident victims and their dependents - as insurance companies contested their claims in an effort to minimise their liabilities and prolong the proceedings making the compensation meaningless.

“The personal sufferings of the survivors and disabled persons are manifold. Some time they can be measured in terms of money but most of the times it is not possible to do so.
“If an individual is permanently disabled in an accident, the cost of his medical treatment and care is likely to be very high. In cases involving total or partial disablement, the term ‘compensation’ used in Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (for short, ‘the Act’) would include not only the expenses incurred for immediate treatment, but also the amount likely to be incurred for future medical treatment/ care necessary for a particular injury or disability caused by an accident,” the court said.

The Bench also said that the amount of compensation in such cases should invariably include “pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.”

The court was dealing with an appeal filed by Govind Yadav, a cleaner,  whose leg had to be amputated after sustaining injuries in an accident and who was not fully satisfied with the award of Rs 2.56 lakh by 9th Additional Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Jabalpur.  
Allowing his petition against the high court order, the apex court ra­ised the compensation amount to Rs 9.53 lakh, taking into account pain, sufferings and trauma, future treatment and loss of amenities and enjoyment of life.

Director not liable
The Supreme Court has held that a director of a firm cannot be held liable for the wrongs committed by his company unless his involvement in irregularities is proved.

“This court has repeatedly held that in case of a director, complaint should specifically spell out how and in what manner the director was in-charge of or was responsible to the accused company for conduct of its business and mere bald statement that he or she was in-charge of and was responsible to the company for conduct of its business is not sufficient,” the apex court said while quashing criminal proceedings against a former director of Apparel Export Promotion Council in a cheque bounce case.

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