The highest court of record held that court can grant compensation exceeding amount claimed in Motor Vehicle accident case s and further directed the following. A Supreme Court Bench consisting of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice MR Shah, therefore, enhanced the compensation amount payable to the appellant before the Court to Rs. 5,00,000 as against an amount of Rs. 3,00,000 originally claimed.
The Apex Court finally awarded the appellant an amount of Rs, 5,00,000/- as a “just and reasonable” compensation. It was also further directed that the amount would bear a 9% interest per annum from the date of the claim petition.
The Court further took note of the claimant's submission before the High Court that he would deposit the deficit in court fee if he is found entitled to get a compensatory amount exceeding Rs 3 lakhs.
"The appellant has expressly stated that if it is entitled to get more than Rs.3 lacs the claimant is ready to deposit deficient court fee. This clearly means that neither the Tribunal nor the High Court was precluded from awarding higher than Rs.3 lacs."
The factual aspects of the case are stated as:
The appellant/claimant was a fruit seller whose right hand was amputated after an accident. Due to the same, he had claimed a total amount of Rs. 9,05,000 as compensation.
However, due to financial constraints, he was unable to pay the Court fee to claim an amount of Rs. 9,05,000. For this reason, he restricted his claim to Rs. 3,00,000. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal eventually awarded him a compensation of Rs. 1,50,000.
Aggrieved by the said order, an appeal was filed in the High Court by the appellant. The High Court enhanced the amount from Rs. 1,50,000 to Rs. 2,50,000, observing that the said amount would be “just and fair compensation” for the injuries succumbed by the appellant. The appellant, however, preferred to file a further appeal before the Supreme Court.
In this regard, the Court relied on the judgment in Ramla & Ors. v. National Insurance Company Limited & Ors, which stated that The Motor Vehicles Act is beneficial and welfare legislation. A “just compensation” is one which is reasonable on the basis of evidence produced on record.”
Therefore, as the crux of the matter in the present case, the Supreme Court reiterated that the Court can award compensation exceeding the claimed amount in a motor vehicle accident case. As observed in the order,
"This Court in a large number of cases has laid down that it is permissible to grant compensation of any amount in excess to that one which has been claimed. This Court in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution has awarded just and reasonable compensation."