Published on: 04 September 2023 at 12:38 IST
The Supreme Court has upheld an award initially granted by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (MACT), expressing disappointment with the High Court’s approach to assessing evidence and reinstating the MACT’s decision.
The Court expressed its disappointment, stating, “It is unfortunate that in cases of this nature, the High Court, while evaluating the available evidence, has demanded strict evidence regarding the deceased’s income. In such cases where compensation is sought and there is no definite proof of income, the social status of the deceased, especially for individuals employed in the unorganized sector, must be considered. Notional income, in any case, should be taken into account.
This is even more crucial when the MACT had reviewed the available evidence and reached a conclusion. The High Court’s re-evaluation of evidence showed a lack of sensitivity to the nature of the matter at hand.”
The Supreme Court bench, consisting of Justices A.S. Bopanna and Prashant Kumar Mishra, heard an appeal against the High Court’s judgment, which had reduced the compensation amount from Rs 11,87,000 to Rs 4,75,000 for claimants in a motor accident case.
The case revolved around the tragic death of an individual who was the sole breadwinner of his family.
The High Court’s stringent approach to assessing evidence related to the deceased’s income was a cause for concern, as the claimants faced difficulties in obtaining comprehensive documentation due to the deceased’s employment in the unorganized sector.
Despite these challenges, the MACT had made an effort to calculate the deceased’s income and had determined that he worked as a skilled mechanic in a two-wheeler repair shop.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court emphasized that, in cases involving individuals employed in the unorganized sector, it is essential to consider notional income based on their social status.
The Court stressed that even in the absence of concrete income proof, notional income should be taken into account, especially when the claimants are dependents of the deceased.
The Supreme Court criticized the High Court’s rigorous demand for exhaustive evidence regarding the deceased’s income and ownership of the repair shop where he worked.
The Court underlined those cases involving the unorganized sector demand sensitivity and consideration of the deceased’s social circumstances.
Consequently, the Supreme Court set aside the High Court’s judgment issued on March 5, 2019, and reinstated the original Award granted by the MACT on March 13, 2007.
The Court instructed the Insurance Company to deposit the awarded amount within four weeks from the date of receiving the judgment.