SC wants just relief for kin of road accident victims
The Supreme Court has said that it was the statutory duty of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals and appellant courts to award "just and reasonable compensation" to dependents of people killed in road accidents.
"...it is the statutory duty of the tribunal and the appellate court to award just and reasonable compensation to the legal representatives of the deceased to mitigate their hardship and agony...," said the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice V. Gopala Gowda in a recent judgment.
The court said this while allowing an appeal by Sanobanu Nazirbhai Mirza, a dependent of a Gujarati painter Nazirbhai Mirza who was killed by a public transport bus operated by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in 1998.
The judges enhanced the compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act to Rs.16.9 lakh which the owner of an offending vehicle had to pay along with an interest of 7.5 percent per annum to Sanobanu Nazirbhai Mirza and other dependents of the accident victim.
"...we are of the view that the legal representatives of the deceased are entitled to the compensation as mentioned under the various heads...even though certain claims were not preferred by them as we are of the view that they are legally and legitimately entitled for the said claims," said Justice Gowda.
The accident tribunal in Gujarat awarded a compensation of Rs.3.5 lakh to the victim's family.
The Gujarat High Court reduced the compensation to Rs.2.5 lakh and directed the heirs of Nazirbhai Mirza to return Rs.99,500 out of the Rs.3.5 lakh already paid to them by the owner of the vehicle which killed Mirza.
Counsel Saroj Raichura, appearing for Sanobanu Nazirbhai Mirza and other legal heirs of the accident victim, assailed the high court verdict.
Reducing the compensation after a gap of 11-12 years was "in violation of the right to life and natural justice and statutory rights of the appellants," Raichura said.
(Posted on 05-10-2013)