The Three Judge Bench in the case of [U. P. State Road Transport Corporation & Ors. Vs Trilok Chandra & Ors, 1996 ACJ 831 (SC)] on the issue regarding selection of multiplier to be adopted to the age of the deceased or that of claimant/claimants in Para No.18 held as under;
"18. We must at once point out that the calculation of compensation and the amount worked out in the Schedule suffer from several defects. For example, in Item 1 for a victim aged 15 years, the multiplier is shown to be 15 years and the multiplicand is shown to be Rs 3000. The total should be 3000 - 15 = 45, 000 but the same is worked out at Rs 60, 000. Similarly, in the Second Item the multiplier is 16 and the annual income is Rs 9000; the total should have been Rs 1, 44, 000 but is shown to be Rs 1, 71, 000.
To put it briefly, the Table abounds in such mistakes. Neither the Tribunals nor the Courts can go by the ready reckoner. It can only be used as a guide. Besides, the selection of multiplier cannot in all cases be solely dependent on the age of the deceased. For example, if the deceased, a bachelor, dies at the age of 45 and his dependants are his parents, age of the parents would also be relevant in the choice of the multiplier. But these mistakes are limited to actual calculations only and not in respect of other items. What we propose to emphasise is that the multiplier cannot exceed 18 years' purchase factor. This is the improvement over the earlier position that ordinarily it should not exceed.
16. We thought it necessary to state the correct legal position as Courts and Tribunals are using higher multiplier as in the present case where the Tribunal used the multiplier of 24 which the High Court raised to 34, thereby showing lack of awareness of the background of the multiplier system in Davies case (1994) 2 SCC 176."
In Trilok Chandra's case (supra), the Three Judge Bench affirmed in an earlier decision of the Supreme Court in the case of [General Manager, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation Vs. Susamma Thomas, 1994 ACJ 1 (SC)] with regard to the adoption and selection of multiplier according to the age of the deceased or the claimant whichever is higher.
There was some confusion as to the selection of multiplier because of the multiplier table as given in the Second Schedule to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 under Section 163-A. In some of the cases, the Courts had adopted the multiplier as given in the Second Schedule.
In Trilok Chandra's case, the three Judge Bench had noticed some clerical mistakes in the multiplier table as given in the Second Schedule and had held that the said Table was not conclusive on the applicability of the multiplier and, therefore, could be taken as a guide.
Noticing the wide variations in the selection of multiplier, a Two Judge Bench Supreme Court in [Sarla Verma & Ors. Vs Delhi Transport Corporation & Anr., AIR 2009 SC 3104] made an attempt to reconcile the method of selection of multiplier as adopted in the cases of Susamma Thomas, Trilok Chandra and [New India Assurance Company Ltd Vs Charlie & Anr, (2005) ACJ 1131 (SC)] and in the Second Schedule.
20. It compared what was provided in the aforesaid Judgments and the Second Schedule in a tabulated form. What was ultimately provided in Sarla Verma's case (supra) is contained in Paras 20 and 21 of the said decision which, reproduced hereunder:
20. Tribunals/courts adopt and apply different operative multipliers. Some follow the multiplier with reference to Susamma Thomas (set out in Column 2 of the Table above); some follow the multiplier with reference to Trilok Chandra, (set out in Column 3 of the Table above); some follow the multiplier with reference to Charlie (Set out in Column (4) of the Table above); many follow the multiplier given in Second Column of the Table in the Second Schedule of MV Act (extracted in Column 5 of the Table above); and some follow the multiplier actually adopted in the Second Schedule while calculating the quantum of compensation (set out in Column 6 of the Table above).
For example if the deceased is aged 38 years, the multiplier would be 12 as per Susamma Thomas, 14 as per Trilok Chandra, 15 as per Charlie, or 16 as per the multiplier given in Column (2) of the Second Schedule to the M V Act or 15 as per the multiplier actually adopted in the Second Schedule to M V Act.
Some Tribunals, as in this case, apply the multiplier of 22 by taking the balance years of service with reference to the retiring age. It is necessary to avoid this kind of inconsistency. We are concerned with cases falling under Section 166 and not under Section 163-A of M V Act. In cases falling under Section 166 of the M V Act, Davies method is applicable.
21. We therefore hold that the multiplier to be used should be as mentioned in Column (4) of the Table above (prepared by applying Susamma Thomas, Trilok Chandra and Charlie), which starts with an operative multiplier of 18 (for the age groups of 15 to 20 and 21 to 25 years), reduced by One Unit for every five years, that is M-17 for 26 to 30 years, M-16 for 31 to 35 years, M-15 for 36 to 40 years, M-14 for 41 to 45 years, and M-13 for 46 to 50 years, then reduced by two units for every five years, that is, M-11 for 51 to 55 years, M-9 for 56 to 60 years, M-7 for 61 to 65 years and M-5 for 66 to 70 years".
In Sarla Verma's case (supra), the Supreme Court was very specific and categoric that the multiplier, to be applied, should be with reference to the age of the deceased. What was observed by the Supreme Court in Para No. 9 of the aforesaid decision is noteworthy and is reproduced hereunder:
9. Basically only three facts need to be established by the claimants for assessing compensation in the case of death:
The issues to be
determined by the Tribunal to arrive at the loss of dependency are:
In view of the authoritative pronouncement of the Constitution Bench the issue with regard to the applicability of multiplier was set at rest.
Despite the law having been clearly stated by the Supreme Court that the multiplier, to be applied, should be with reference to the age of the deceased, yet the controversy has refused to die. Various High Courts have given contrary Judgments making a fictional distinction for the purposes of applying the multiplier in the case of a deceased bachelor.
From the case law discussed above, nowhere the Supreme Court has made any distinction between the deceased who may be 15, 16 or 18 years old or a bachelor. The multiplier to be applied has been uniformly provided in Sarla Verma's case which has been approved by a Three Judge Bench in the cases of Reshma Kumari, Munna Lal Jain and finally in Pranay Sethi.
It is in this context, the issue came up for consideration once again before the Supreme Court in the case of [Sube Singh & Anr. Vs Shyam Singh (Dead) & Ors., 2018 (1) Law Hearld 350]. Three Judge Bench of Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Sube Singh (supra) while disagreeing with Two Judge Bench in [Ashvinbhai Jayantilal Modi Vs Ramkaran Ramchandra Sharma & Anr., 2014 (5) Law Hearld (SC) 3552] and considering the principle expounded in Sarla Verma's case (supra), and Munna Lal Jain reaffirmed the law as laid down in the aforementioned Judgments and approved by the Constitution Bench in Pranay Sethi's case (supra). What was stated by the Supreme Court in Sube Singh's case (supra) in Para 4 is also reproduced hereunder:
On the basis of the finding recorded by the Tribunal and affirmed by the High Court, it is evident that the deceased was 23 years of age on the date of accident i.e. 22.09.2009. He was unmarried and his parents who filed the petition for compensation were in the age group of 40 to 45 years.
The High Court relying on the decision in the case of Ashvinbhai Jayantilal Modi (supra), held that multiplier 14 will be applicable in the present case, keeping in mind the age of the parents of the deceased. The legal position, however, is no more re integra
In the case of Munna Lal Jain (supra) decided by a Three Judge Bench of this Court, it is held that the multiplier should depend on the age of the deceased and not on the age of the dependents. We may usefully refer to the exposition in Paragraph Nos. 11 and 12 of the reported decision, which read thus:
11. The remaining question is only on multiplier.
The High Court following Santosh Devi (supra), has taken 13as the multiplier. Whether the multiplier should depend on the age of the dependent s or that of the deceased, has been hanging fire for sometime; but that has been given a quietus by another three Judge Bench decision in Reshma Kumar (supra).
It was held that the multiplier is to be used with reference to the age of the deceased. One reason appears to be that there is certainty with regard to the age of the deceased but as far as that of dependents is concerned, there will always be room for dispute as to whether the age of the eldest or youngest or even the average etc. is to be taken. To quote
36. In Sarla Verma, this Court has endeavoured to simplify the otherwise complex exercise of assessment of loss of dependency and determination of compensation in a claim made under Section 166.
It has been rightly stated in Sarla Verma that the claimants in case of death claim for the purposes of compensation must establish:
To arrive at the loss of dependency,
the Tribunal must consider:
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