Money cannot renew a shattered physical frame

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | Updated: Aug 29 2012, 08:42am hrs
Insurers to pay more for loss of earnings, normal life

Increasing the compensation in a motor vehicle accident, the Supreme Court has ruled that compensation to accident victims should also include damages for injuries, loss of earnings and inability to enjoy a normal life and amenities.

Coming down heavily on the high courts and motor vehicle accident tribunals for wrong computation in the case Kavita vs Deepak and others, it reiterated that whenever any amount is determined as the compensation payable for any injury suffered during an accident, the object is to compensate such injury so far as money can compensate because it is impossible to equate the money with the human sufferings or personal deprivations. Money cannot renew a broken and shattered physical frame.

However, the top court said that courts should strike a balance between the inflated and unreasonable demands of a victim and the equally untenable claim of the opposite party saying that nothing is payable. Sympathy for the victim does not, and should not, come in the way of making a correct assessment, but if a case is made out, the court must not be chary of awarding adequate compensation, it said, while asking the insurance company to pay a compensation of R34,38,747 within three months to Kavita, a 30-year-old lawyer who was rendered a paraplegic in an accident in 2004, by delivering the demand draft at her residence.

Kavita had moved the tribunal through her husband Deepak Singhal seeking a compensation of R85 lakh. While the tribunal had awarded her R4 lakh, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had enhanced the compensation to R16,76,480.

Courts cant round off marks

Frowning upon a 0.29% upward rounding-off done by the Karnataka High Court to allow a student to get admitted to a PG course in MSc (Nursing), the Supreme Court held that eligibility criteria prescribed in a qualifying examination must be strictly adhered to. Faced with divergent views expressed by different high courts on the issue of rounding off of marks such as 54.70% as 55%, it said that any dilution or tampering with it will work injustice on other candidates Rounding-off is impermissible.

It allowed an appeal filed by Bangalore-based Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, which had challenged the high courts order to round off the marks of one G Hemlatha and other post-graduate (nursing) students, thus making them eligible for the admission. We make it clear that this order merely settles the question of law and shall not have any adverse impact, in any manner, on the service of Hemlatha, the bench said, while taking note of the fact that her career would be disturbed.

The eligibility criteria prescribed for securing admission to the PG course was 55% aggregate marks. Initially, the students were permitted for the course even though they had secured 54.71% against the qualifying eligibility. However, the university later cancelled their admission. The students then moved the HC.

Punishment must reflect public abhorrence of crime

The Supreme Court has said that courts need to examine aggravating and mitigating factors while awarding death penalty to reflect public abhorrence of the crime. The courts should impose a punishment befitting the crime so that the courts are able to accurately reflect public abhorrence of the crime It is the nature and gravity of the crime, and not the criminal, which are germane for consideration of appropriate punishment in a criminal trial.

According to the Supreme Court, imposition of sentence without considering its effect on the social order in many cases may be in reality, a futile exercise. Thus, the courts for the purpose of deciding just and appropriate sentence to be awarded for an offence, have to delicately balance the aggravating and mitigating factors and circumstances in which a crime has been committed, in a dispassionate manner, the apex court said while dismissing the appeal filed by the Uttar Pradesh government challenging the commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment of Sanjay Kumar, who raped and murdered an 18-year-old girl on February 24, 2007, in Varanasi.

indu.bhan@expressindia.com