A Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) here has awarded a compensation of Rs 17.35 lakh to the family members of a 17-year-old boy who died in a road accident in 2014, observing that though a human loss cannot be measured in monetary terms, a just and reasonable compensation has to be provided.
The boy had taken a lift in a truck on the night of December 15, 2014, and died due to grievous head injuries after the vehicle met with an accident and turned turtle.
The court granted the compensation after rejecting the claim of the insurance company – National Insurance Company Limited – that as the truck was a commercial vehicle, and the boy was travelling as a “gratuitous passenger,” it was not liable to pay the award amount.
“The death of a child of any age is a profound, difficult, and painful experience, however, death of an older child or adolescent is the most stressful event and most complex grief that families face because children at this age are beginning to reach their potential and become independent individuals,” Presiding Officer Vinod Yadav said.
“I award compensation of Rs 17,35,000… in favour of the petitioners…The insurance company is liable to pay the aforesaid compensation amount to the claimants, with a right to recover the same from the driver-cum-owner…,” said the judge.
He further added, “it has to be borne in mind that the compensation is not expected to be a windfall or a bonanza nor it should be niggardly.” The court noted that the testimony of the sole eyewitness and prosecution witness, who was also on the same truck, was not reliable as initially, he had said that the driver was driving in a rash and negligent manner, which resulted in the accident, but later changed his statement.
“It is further noticeable that he (the eyewitness) has changed his stance several times during the course of recording of his evidence. Somewhere he claims to have become unconscious after the accident and regained his consciousness the next day in the hospital; somewhere he states that he had become unconscious momentarily and somewhere he came to know that he was semi-conscious,” the court said.
It also said that establishing rashness and negligence of a driver for a claim petition under the Motor Vehicle (MV) Act was not at par with a criminal case, where such rashness and negligence were required to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt.
Mehboob, who was on the same truck, was the sole eyewitness in the case and based on his statement, Narela police registered an FIR in December 2014.
The driver and owner of the truck, Ravinder Kumar denied his fault and said that the accident was caused by another speeding truck, coming from the wrong side.