30 years later, Bombay HC increases the payment for the accidental death of 10 years to Rs 2 lakh

MUMBAI: Twenty-nine years after a 10-year-old girl died in an accident, the Bombay High Court increased the compensation granted by a court to her relatives four times. The higher court said that human life cannot be measured only in terms of loss of income or monetary loss.

In a recent order, the higher court increased the compensation to Rs 2.3 lakh of the Rs 52,000 granted by the

On April 27, 1990, Savita, a class V student from a municipal school in Kherwadi, and her mother traveled from the city to a bus on the (MSRTC). The bus collided with a tractor car that had been moving in the opposite direction in Kolhapur, killing them both.

The family blamed the bus driver for the accident and requested compensation of Rs 1 lakh in the Automobile Accident Claims Court. The MSRTC denied any fault of its driver and accused the driver of the tractor car of negligence.

The MSRTC also said that, alternatively, it should be treated as a case of compound negligence and liability, if any, should be distributed accordingly.

The court in March 1996 awarded compensation of Rs 51,800 with an interest rate of 12%. The court said it was a case of contributory negligence and ordered the MSRTC to pay Rs 38,500 with interest, or 75% of the total compensation, and the tractor car insurer the balance of the compensation of 25% with proportional interest.

While the court noted that it was a case of contributory negligence, the higher court noted that the deceased had not contributed to the accident in any way and that it could never be a case of contributory negligence.

In the higher court, the deceased's family argued that the court had not granted any compensation for future prospects. Krutika Pokale, appearing for the family, said the girl's father was also entitled to compensation for the loss of the subsidiary consortium.

The superior court did not deepen the merits of the case, since there was no challenge to the conclusions that it was a case of reckless and negligent driving. The compensation granted by the court is not fair and reasonable, the superior court said.

The higher court said it was well known that in the case of children there was no clear evidence of the pecuniary loss resulting from accidental death. However, the lack of proof of pecuniary loss would not lead to an inference, much less a conclusion, that no pecuniary loss accrues due to his death, the court said.

Citing a Supreme Court order, the higher court said there are emotional attachments involved and that the loss of a child has a devastating effect on the family.

In view of the uncertainties and contingencies of human life, what would be an adequate figure, an adequate solatium is difficult to specify, said Judge Anuja Prabhudessai.

Based on a formula of the Supreme Court established to calculate the compensation, the superior court improved it from Rs 51,800 to Rs 2.3 lakh with an interest of 7.5% from the date of the petition until the date of the actual payment. The MSRTC is free to recover 25% of the compensation with a proportional interest of the tractor car insurer.