In a recent development, the Supreme Court, in its decisive order dated December 4, dismissed the compensation awarded to the brothers (respondents) of the deceased victim under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Court ruled against the notion that three older married siblings would be reliant on the victim’s earnings and highlighted that the victim lived separately, not with his brothers.
Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol delivered the verdict, emphasizing the improbability of the victim’s older married siblings being financially dependent, given their separate lives and established families.
The Court further expressed the opinion that in the absence of substantial evidence, siblings would not generally be considered dependents as they might either be self-sufficient, earning individuals, or married and thus not reliant on the deceased. Additionally, the Court pointed out that siblings might typically rely on their father rather than a deceased sibling for financial support.
The case stemmed from an unfortunate vehicular accident resulting in the death of the victim. Subsequently, the respondents filed for compensation before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in Muzaffarnagar, which granted them a compensation of Rs. 30,15,540/- along with 7% per annum simple interest.
Challenging this decision, the Insurance Company (appellant) appealed to the Allahabad High Court, primarily contending that the deceased’s elder brothers were financially independent and hence not eligible for compensation.
However, the High Court upheld the Tribunal’s findings, supporting the precedents cited, and consequently dismissed the Insurance Company’s plea, leading to the current appeal in the Supreme Court.
Aside from rejecting the compensation on the grounds of non-dependency, the Supreme Court also expressed reservations regarding the decisions made by both the tribunal and the High Court.
The Court remarked that the tribunal and the High Court erred in considering the deceased victim’s three older married siblings as dependents, given their established families and separate living arrangements.
In light of these observations, the Court deemed the compensation awarded to the married siblings unwarranted and dismissed the appeal.
The case, titled THE NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED v. ANAND PAL & ORS.,was brought to the Supreme Court with Diary No. 10672 – 2022. The judgment, available in the 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 1047 citation, elucidates the Court’s stance on dependency criteria for compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The Supreme Court’s decision sets a precedent by scrutinizing the dependency clause in compensation cases, particularly regarding siblings of the deceased victims. It emphasizes the need for substantial evidence to establish dependency, especially for older married siblings living separately and having their own families.
This landmark judgment accentuates the necessity for a more stringent assessment of dependency claims, ensuring fair and justified compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The ruling acts as a guiding principle for future cases involving claims made by siblings of deceased victims and highlights the importance of presenting clear and incontrovertible evidence of dependency to receive compensation under the Act. In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s resolute decision in *THE NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED v. ANAND PAL & ORS.* serves as a pivotal benchmark in redefining the criteria for dependency and fair compensation in cases related to unfortunate vehicular accidents under the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.