Victims’ status not static, says Bench; reverses HC award on accident victim
The real possibility that a bright future was in store for a young accident victim before it was cut short tragically should be considered while determining compensation, the Supreme Court observed in a judgment.
“To have the perception that he is likely to remain static and his income to remain stagnant is contrary to the fundamental concept of human attitude which always intends to live with dynamism and move and change with the time,” a Bench led by Justice M.R. Shah said.
The court was dealing with the death of a 21-year-old engineering student in an accident. The Madhya Pradesh High Court calculated his monthly income at ₹5,000. Justice Shah said the court had committed a grave error.
“Even labourers were getting Rs.5,000 per month under the Minimum Wages Act… the High Court ought not to have considered the income of the deceased at ₹5,000,” the court observed.
Justice Shah noted “the High Court has not considered the future rise in income while awarding the future loss of income”.
“Looking to the educational qualification and the family background, the deceased was to have a bright future. We are of the opinion that the income of the deceased at least ought to be ₹10,000,” the court said.
The court said future rise of income of the road accident victim should be taken into consideration even if he or she was not earning at the time of death.
The prospective rise in income should be calculated after considering cumulative factors, namely, passage of time, the changing society, escalation of price, the change in price index, the human attitude to follow a particular pattern of life, etc.
“We are of the opinion that even in case of a deceased who was not serving at the time of death and had no income at the time of death, their legal heirs shall also be entitled to future prospects by adding future rise in income, i.e., addition of 40% of the income determined on guesswork considering the educational qualification, family background etc., where the deceased was below the age of 40 years," the court held.
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