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Multiplier should depend on age of deceased

Briefly stated, in a motor accident which occurred on 22.09.2009, Ajit Singh, who was at the relevant time 23 years of age died. His parents, who were in the age group of 40 to 45 years, filed a petition claiming compensation. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal held that the established income of the deceased was around Rs. 4,200/- per month and after deduction of 50% as the deceased was unmarried, calculated the same as Rs. 2,100/- per month. Thereafter, it applied multiplier 15, taking the age of the “parents of the deceased” into consideration.

The legal position, however, is no more res integra. In the case of Munna Lal Jain(supra) decided by a three-Judge Bench of this Court, it is held that multiplier should depend on the age of the deceased and not on the age of the dependants. We may usefully refer to the exposition in paragraph Nos. 11 and 12 of the reported decision, which read thus:

“11. The remaining question is only on multiplier. The High Court following Santosh Devi, has taken 13 as the multiplier. Whether the multiplier should depend on the age of the dependents or that of the deceased, has been hanging fire for sometime; but that has been given a quietus by another three Judge Bench decision in Reshma Kumar. It was held that the multiplier is to be used with reference to the age of the deceased. One reason appears to be that there is certainty with regard to the age of the deceased but as far as that of dependents is concerned, there will always be room for dispute as to whether the age of the eldest or youngest or even the average etc. is to be taken.

Hon’ble Dipak Misra, C.J.I., A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. chanderchud, JJ., have held that having regard to the age of the deceased and period of active career, the appropriate multiplier should be selected. This does not mean ascertaining the number of years he would have lived or worked out for the accident having regard to several imponderables in life and economic factors, a table of multipliers with reference to the age has been identified by this Court. The multiplier should be chosen from the said table with reference to the age of the deceased.”

Considering the aforementioned principle expounded in Sarla Verma, which has been affirmed by the Constitution Bench of this Court in National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi and others, the appellants are justified in insisting for applying multiplier 18.
Sube Singh v. Shyam Singh, 2018 (183) AIC 9 S.C

Parking vehicle in middle of road is negligence
In the petition for compensation filed before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (for short, “the Tribunal”), It was alleged that the accident was caused due to parking of the offending Gas Tanker in the middle of the road without any indicator or parking lights. The claimant examined the eye-witness Sohan Lal who, in his affidavit, gave an account of the cause of accident in the following words:

“…That on 15.12.2011 at about 10.30 p.m. I alongwith P.H.G. Ajit Singh was present near Sanjha Chulha Dhaba, on the National Highway, (which leads to Jammu) in the area of Village Ajijpur, P.S. Sujanpur. At that time all the traffic was diverted on the Eastern side of the road, as the Western side of road was closed due to construction work. In meantime, a Maruti Car No. HR02 K 0448 came from Jammu side (Madhopur side) and struck against the back of the Gas Tanker as the driver of car could not spot the parked tanker due to flash-lights of the oncoming traffic from front side. Then we rushed towards the spot of accident, and noticed that the said tanker was standing parked in middle of the road, without any indicators or parking lights. Due to the accident the car was damaged extensively. The driver of the Car and a lady sitting by his side, died at the spot. Two children, who were on the rear seat of car were also injured.”

Hon’ble Dipak Misra, C.J.I., A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chanderchud, JJ., have held that accordingly, we have no hesitation in setting aside the said finding of the High Court. As a result, the appellants would be entitled to the enhanced compensation as determined by the High Court in its entirety without any deduction towards contributory negligence. In other words, we restore the finding of the Tribunal rendered on issue No. 1 against the respondents and hold that respondent No. 1 negligently parked the Gas Tanker /offending vehicle in the middle of the road without any indicator or parking lights.
Accordingly, we affirm the enhanced compensation payable to the claimants as determined by the High Court.
We set aside the direction given by the High Court in paragraph 16 of the impugned judgment regarding deduction of 50% of the total compensation awarded to the claimants towards contributory negligence.
Archit Saini v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., 2018 (183) AIC 21 S.C.

Person in records of Registering Authority is owner

An accident took place at about 7:30 p.m. on 27 May, 2009 when Smt. Jai Devi and her nephew Nitin were walking down a street in their village. A motor vehicle driven by Rakesh in the reverse gear hit them. Nitin was run over by the rear wheel of the car and died on the spot. Smt. Jai Devi received multiple injuries. Two claim petitions were filed before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’). One of them was by Smt. Jai Devi. The second was by Somvir and Smt. Saroj, the parents of Nitin. The vehicle involved in the accident (a Maruti 800 bearing Registration No DL-3CC-3684) was registered in the name of Vijay Kumar, the First respondent. According to the First respondent, he had sold the vehicle to the Second respondent on 12 July, 2007 prior to the accident and had banded over possession of the vehicle together with relevant documents including the registration certificate, and forms 29 and 30 for transfer of the vehicle. The Second respondent stated before the Tribunal that he sold the vehicle to the Third respondent on 18 September, 2008. The Third respondent in turn claimed before the Tribunal to have sold the vehicle to the petitioner. The petitioner, in the course of his written statement claimed that he had sold the vehicle to Meer Singh.

Hon’ble Dipak Misra, C.J.I., A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ., have held that the consistent thread of reasoning which emerges from the above decisions is that in view of the definition of the expression ‘owner’ in section 2 (30), it is the person in whose name the motor vehicle stands registered who, for the purposes of the Act, would be treated as the ‘owner’. However, where a person is a minor, the guardian of the minor would be treated as the owner. Where a motor vehicle is subject to an agreement of hire purchase, lease or hypothecation, the person in possession of the vehicle under that agreement is treated as the owner. In a situation such as the present where the registered owner has purported to transfer the vehicle but continues to be reflected in the records of the registering authority as the owner of the vehicle, he would not stand absolved of liability. Parliament has consciously introduced the definition of the expression ‘owner’ in section 2 (30), making a departure from the provisions of section 2 (19) in the earlier act of 1939. The principle underlying the provisions of section 2 (30) is that the victim of a motor accident or, in the case of death, the legal heirs of the deceased victim should not be left in a state of uncertainty. A claimant for compensation ought not to be burdened with following a trail of successive transfers, which are not registered with the registering authority. To hold otherwise would be to defeat the salutary object and purpose of the Act. Hence, the interpretation to be placed must facilitate the fulfillment of the object of the law. In the present case, the First respondent was the ‘owner’ (30). The liability to pay compensation stands fastened upon him. Admittedly, the vehicle was uninsured. The High Court has proceeded upon a misconstruction of the judgments of this Court in Reshma and Purnya Kala Devi,

The submission of the petitioner is that a failure to intimate the transfer will only result in a fine under section 50 (3) but will not invalidate the transfer of the vehicle. In Dr. T.V. Jose, this Court observed that there can be transfer of title by payment of consideration and delivery of the car. But for the purposes of the Act, the person whose name is reflected in the records of the registering authority is the owner. The owner within the meaning of section 2 (30) is liable to compensate. The mandate of the law must be fulfilled.
Naveen Kumar v. Vijay Kumar, 2018 (183) AIC 27 S.C.

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