No need to rely on minimum wages notification if income can be evaluated: SC on accident claim
The Supreme Court has remarked that the notification of the Minimum Wages Act can be a guiding factor only in the case where there is no clue available to evaluate the monthly income of the deceased.
"Where positive evidence has been led, no reliance on the notification could be placed, particularly when it was nobody's case that the deceased was a labourer as presumed by the High Court," the top court said.
A bench of justices Surya Kant and MM Sundresh said while setting aside an order of Punjab and Haryana High Court and restored the decision of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), Karnal*.
The top court said that the reason asserted by the High Court to reduce the monthly income of the deceased is totally "cryptic" and has no rationale.The Punjab and Haryana HC relied upon the Notification issued by the State of Haryana, which fixed the minimum wage at the relevant time and assessed the income of the deceased at Rs 7,000 per month, and thus on this premise, it (the High Court) reduced the compensation amount.
But the top court noted the findings of MACT and said that Tribunal's approach is quite justified in the law as well as on the facts."In the summary proceedings where the approach of the Tribunal's determination must be in conformity with the object of the welfare legislation, it was rightly held that the monthly income of the deceased could not be less than Rs 25,000," the court said as it noted that deceased was regularly paying the monthly instalment of Rs 11,550 towards the tractor's loan from March 2014 onwards and the entire loan liability was discharged by March 2015 with payment being made even after his death.
The court allowed the appeal filed by dependents of the deceased challenging orders of Punjab and Haryana High Court and said that the appellants are held to be entitled to the compensation in accordance with the Tribunal's Award."The balance amount, after adjusting the amount which has already been paid, shall be deposited along with interest before the Tribunal, within a period of two months from the date of receipt/production of a copy of this order. The Tribunal shall disburse the said compensation amount to the appellants as per its ward," the court said.The appellant were aggrieved by the order dated September 24, 2019, passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh whereby the compensation of Rs 43,75,000 awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Karnal has been substantially reduced to Rs 16,57,600.
The deceased died on November 2014 when he was driving his motorcycle and a JCB bearing came from the opposite side of the road and crashed into his motorcycle. The deceased sustained multiple injuries and later succumbed to them."Consequently, the judgment and order dated September 24, 2019, passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh is set aside and the award dated January 12, 2016, passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Karnal is restored," the top court said.