The Supreme Court has observed that, in Motor Accident Compensation Claims, consortium can be awarded to children and parents also.
The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy was considering appeals have been filed by three Insurance Companies viz. New India Assurance Company Limited, Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd. and The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. questioning the judgments of the High Courts arising out of the award by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) with regard to the compensation awarded in favour of the claimants under two heads, i.e., "Loss of Consortium" and "loss of love and affection.
In these appeals, the Insurance Companies had questioned the award of compensation to the claimant under two heads, i.e., (a)loss of consortium and (b) loss of love and affection. With regard to 'consortium', the issue raised was whether it is only the wife who is entitled for consortium or the consortium can be awarded to children and parents also. The contention was that the amount granted under the head 'loss of love and affection' is wholly without jurisdiction and further amount granted under the head 'consortium' could not be more than Rs.40,000/- and the amount of 'consortium' is only payable to wife who is entitled to Rs.40,000/- and the Tribunals and the High Courts committed error in awarding amount of consortium to each of the claimant, i.e., wife, children and parents.
The appellants referred to the Constitution Bench judgment in National Insurance Co. Ltd vs. Pranay Sethi and contended that it has only referred to spousal consortium and no other consortium was referred to in the judgment of Pranay Sethi, hence, there is no justification for allowing the parental consortium and filial consortium. In this regard, the bench observed:
The Constitution Bench in Pranay Sethi has referred to amount of Rs.40,000/- to the 'loss of consortium' but the Constitution Bench had not addressed the issue as to whether consortium of Rs.40,000/- is only payable as spousal consortium. The judgment of Pranay Sethi cannot be read to mean that it lays down the proposition that the consortium is payable only to the wife.
The court noticed that Three-Judge Bench in United India Insurance Company Ltd. versus Satinder Kaur alias Satvinder Kaur, has categorically laid down that apart from spousal consortium, parental and filial consortium is payable. Thus, the bench said:
"We feel ourselves bound by the above judgment of Three Judge Bench. We, thus, cannot accept the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that the amount of consortium awarded to each of the claimants is not sustainable."
The Court agreed with the appellants' contention that there is no justification for award of compensation under separate head 'loss of love and affection'. Referring to recent judgment in United India Insurance Company Ltd. versus Satinder Kaur alias Satvinder Kaur and others, the bench observed:
"The Three-Judge Bench in the above case approved the comprehensive interpretation given to the expression 'consortium' to include spousal consortium, parental consortium as well as filial consortium. Three-Judge Bench however further laid down that 'loss of love and affection' is comprehended in 'loss of consortium', hence, there is no justification to award compensation towards 'loss of love and affection' as a separate head."
Case name: THE NEW INDIA ASSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED vs. SOMWATI Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO.3093 OF 2020Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy
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