The Telegraph
Sunday , January 26 , 2014
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‘Marriage loss’ in damages

New Delhi, Jan. 25: The Supreme Court has awarded an additional Rs 75,000 to an unmarried embroidery worker who lost a leg in a road accident, saying “loss of marriage prospects” should be taken into account while calculating damages in such cases.

Justices S.J. Mukhopadhyaya and V. Gopala Gowda also awarded Sanjay Kumar Rs 1 lakh for “loss of amenities”, enhancing the total amount to Rs 14.59 lakh, after the bench had nearly doubled the Rs 6.35-lakh compensation fixed by Delhi High Court.

Kumar, a bachelor, had sought additional compensation on the ground that the accident had hurt his marriage prospects but the high court had declined to consider the plea.

The top court disagreed. “On the point of loss of marriage prospects, we feel that it is a major loss, keeping in mind the young age of the appellant…” the bench said, adding the high court had “gravely erred in not awarding adequate compensation separately under this head”, clubbing it instead under “loss of future enjoyment of life” and “pain and suffering”.

“We thereby award Rs 75,000 towards loss of marriage prospects,” it said in a recent judgment.

“Further, it is necessary to award an amount under the head of ‘loss of amenities’ also as the appellant will definitely deal with loss of future amenities as he has lost a leg due to the accident. The injury has permanently disabled the appellant, thereby reducing his enjoyment of life and the full pursuit of all the activities he engaged in prior to the accident.

“We thereby, award a sum of Rs 1,00,000 towards ‘loss of amenities’,” Justice Gowda, writing the judgment, said.

Kumar’s right leg had to be amputated after a rashly driven truck hit him on September 28, 2005, on a Delhi street. Employed as an embroidery worker, he had claimed Rs 15 lakh from the insurance company and the vehicle’s owner.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Delhi, awarded him Rs 4.83 lakh. He appealed in the high court, which enhanced the amount to Rs 6.35 lakh. He then moved the apex court.

While awarding the compensation, the tribunal and the high court had both treated Kumar as an unskilled worker in an unorganised sector. The apex court differed. “In our considered view, the appellant is entitled to be awarded compensation based on the wages for a skilled worker, as he is an embroiderer and the same cannot be considered an unskilled work.

“The minimum wages in Delhi for a skilled worker as on 01.08.2005 was Rs 3,589.90 per month. The appellant has claimed that he was earning Rs 4,500 per month from his work as an embroiderer.

“We will accept his claim as it is not practical to expect a worker in the unorganised sector to provide documentary evidence of his monthly income.”

The court said the appellant would “need assistance” to move around, “regular check-ups” and “most likely use a crutch to walk”. All this “will incur expenses”, the bench said, enhancing the compensation to Rs 14.59 lakh.

The amount includes 9 per cent interest from the date Kumar filed his plea for compensation before the tribunal.