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Just and Reasonable Compensation is a Responsibility of the Court: High Court of Andhra Pradesh

Compensation awarded to the victim of an accident must be just and reasonable, and must be neither meager nor exorbitant, as observed by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, before the HON’BLE JUSTICE SRI NINALA JAYASURYA, in the matter of Duddala Nageswara Rao vs. Ardala Suryanarayana & Anr. [M.A.C.M.A.No. 1619 of 2006], on 02.12.21.

The facts of the case were that due to the negligent and rash driving on the part of the first respondent in the case, a driver of a tractor and trailer; the appellant met with an accident on 19.05.2003, while travelling in an auto-rickshaw on his way to Vijayawada, owing to which he suffered severe and multiple injuries. The original petition had been filed before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal-cum-Additional District Judge (FTC), Guntur, claiming a compensation of Rs.1,50,000/- from the first and second respondents, the driver and the insurance company; however, post consideration of the material on record, a meager sum of Rs.66,400/- in all, with interest at 6% p.a. from the date of filing of the petition, till payment; was awarded. The appellant thus preferred the present appeal.

The Learned Counsel for the appellant, Mr. A. Rajendra Babu, submitted that the amount awarded by the Tribunal was meager, and the appellant was entitled to greater compensation than Rs.1,50,000/- as previously claimed, firstly, owing to the severe adverse impact on the appellant’s earning capacity owing to the nature of the injuries and their treatment; secondly, asserting that the percentage of disability as assessed by the medical doctor, was 40%, which was overlooked by the Tribunal while deciding the compensation. Placing reliance on precedents, it was contended that the appellant was entitled to compensation under different heads, including pain and suffering, loss of expectation of life, attendant charges and extra nourishment, and further the benefit of addition of 40% income towards future prospects.

The Learned Counsel for the respondent, Mr. K. Rama Mohan Rao, submitted that the Tribunal, in awarding compensation payable to the claimant, had taken into account all the relevant factors, the award was well reasoned and therefore, did not warrant any interference by the High Court.

The Honourable High Court of Andhra Pradesh, after considering all the evidence and arguments put forth, noted firstly that the occurrence of the accident and the injuries sustained by the appellant as a result were not in dispute and the respondents did not prefer an appeal questioning their liability to pay the compensation jointly and severally. Secondly, the Court took into account the daily income of the appellant, and differing with the Tribunal, considered the same to be Rs. 100/-, for the purpose of arriving at the compensation required. It was held that irrespective of the claim of the appellant, just and reasonable compensation can be awarded over and above the claim.

The appeal was thus allowed, and the compensation was enhanced from Rs.66,400/- to Rs.4,34,600/-, while interest awarded was increased to 7.5% p.a., as 6% p.a. awarded by the Tribunal was observed to be meager. The respondent insurance company was directed to deposit the same.

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Judgement reviewed by Bhargavi

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