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PTI

Taking a liberal view, the Supreme Court has said while awarding compensation in motor accident cases, a robust view should be taken of the quantum of the earnings of the deceased, if he is a self-cultivating agriculturist or a self-skilled worker.

A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli dealt with two cases in appeal against the orders of the Kerala High Court, in which the amount of compensation awarded by the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT) was reduced.

In the first case, the MACT awarded a compensation of Rs 26.75 lakh on January 30, 2017 to the kin of the deceased, who was a pineapple cultivator, after taking his base income as Rs 12,000 per month.

The high court reduced the income computed by the MACT from Rs 12,000 to Rs 10,000.

The bench said, "In the present case, the deceased was a pineapple cultivator. The accident took place on October 1, 2015. In such matters, a robust view has to be taken of the quantum of earnings since documentary evidence may not be available to specifically prove the quantum of earnings of a self-cultivating agriculturist."

The top court, in the order uploaded on its website recently, said in its view, the income of Rs 12,000 per month that was adopted by the MACT could not be regarded as "disproportionate or arbitrary".

"Hence, there was no justification for the high court to interfere with the award by reducing the quantum of income of the deceased from Rs 12,000 to Rs 10,000 per month," it said.

The apex court restored the total quantum of compensation of Rs 26.75 lakh and ordered that the balance due and payable to the family of the deceased shall be paid within a month together with interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum.

In another case, the MACT awarded a compensation of Rs 24.59 lakh to the family of the deceased, who was a carpenter, by taking his base income as Rs 15,000 per month.

The high court again reduced the income computed by the MACT from Rs 15,000 to Rs 10,000.

The bench said, "In the present case, the deceased was a carpenter. The accident took place on May 3, 2015. In such matters, a robust view has to be taken on the quantum of earnings since documentary evidence may not be available to specifically prove the quantum of earnings of a self-skilled worker."

It added that the income of Rs 15,000 per month that was adopted by the MACT could not be regarded as disproportionate or arbitrary and hence, there was no justification for the high court to interfere with the award by reducing the quantum of earnings of the deceased from Rs 15,000 to Rs 10,000 per month.

It said in view of the circumstances, it is restoring the total quantum of compensation of Rs 24.59 lakh and directed that the balance due and payable to the appellant (family members of the deceased) shall be paid within a month together with interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum.

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