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The compensation must be “just” and it cannot be a bonanza; not a source of profit; but the same should not be a pittance : Madhya Pradesh High Court

The Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case of Atar Singh Lodhi vs Kalyan Singh Kushwah (MISCELLANEOUS APPEAL Nos. 525 of 2014) upheld that the compensation must be “just” and it cannot be a bonanza; not a source of profit; but the same should not be a pittance.

Facts of the case: Urmila, Suman and Puja were standing in front of the house of one Laxman situated at Sirsaud Square Sirsaud-Pichhore Road. They were waiting for the bus to come. At about 11:00 am when the bus arrived, they all walked towards the bus to board it. At that very moment, the respondent No.1/ non-claimant No.1 driving the dumper bearing No. MP04 GA 2292 rashly and negligently hit the deceased persons due to which they died on the spot. The incident was reported to the police station and the dependents/ legal representatives of the deceased persons filed the claim petitions before the Claims Tribunal for award of compensation.

The Tribunal passed the award against which all the appellants/claimants had preferred present miscellaneous appeals for enhancement of compensation amount on the ground that the Tribunal below had wrongly assessed the compensation amount. Counsel for the appellants had argued that the compensation awarded by the learned Tribunal was on the lower side. The deceased Puja was studying in school and had a very bright student, therefore, her annual income fixed by the Tribunal was inappropriate. 

Judgment: The court held that in cases of young children of tender age, in view of uncertainties abound, neither their income at the time of death nor the prospects of the future increase in their income nor chances of advancement of their career are capable of proper determination on estimated basis. 

It has to be kept in view that the Tribunal constituted under the Act as provided in Section 168 is required to make an award determining the amount of compensation which is to be in the real sense “damages” which in turn appears to it to be “just and reasonable”. It has to be borne in mind that compensation for loss of limbs or life can hardly be weighed in golden scales. But at the same time it has to be borne in mind that the compensation is not expected to be a windfall for the victim. Statutory provisions clearly indicate that the compensation must be “just” and it cannot be a bonanza; not a source of profit; but the same should not be a pittance. The courts and tribunals have a duty to weigh the various factors and quantify the amount of compensation, which should be just. The expression just denotes equitability, fairness and reasonableness, and non-arbitrary. In the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case, the amount of Rs. 2,25,000/- awarded by the Tribunal was found to be just and proper compensation.

JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY : SHUBHANGI CHAUDHARY

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