In one of the record payout in any accident claims in the country, the Bombay High Court has ordered New India Assurance to a family, which lost its sole earning member to a car accident more than 10 years ago, has been awarded over Rs 7.60 crore as claim.The amount included interest.
The family members of the deceased, Ravindra Kulkarni,47, who was working as the chief executive officer of Tata Precision Industries — a Tata group company —based in Singapore and was earning more than 11,000 Singapore dollars (about Rs 3.34 lakh, as per the conversion rate relied by the HC) a month at the time, in an appeal in the Bombay High Court, had sought enhancement of the Rs 2.50-crore compensation amount granted by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, the NIA pleaded for the rejection of the claim altogether.
In a judgment delivered last week, a division bench of Justices RM Savant and NM Jamdar accepted the contentions raised by the family members and rejected a counter petition by the NIA
In July 2015, the Pune Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal awarded a claim of Rs 2.50 crore with six per cent annual interest, taking the total claim to around Rs 3.40 crore. Both the insurance company and the family
In the Bombay High Court, the insurance company argued that the driver of the multi-utility vehicle who crashed into the car carrying the Kulkarni family were travelling was heavily drunk, therefore it could not be held liable for his act which was categorised as an offence under the Motor Vehicles Act.
The HC bench, however, rejected these submissions as the insurance company had not put these points in their petition and did not present enough evidence to prove them. The company disputed all the other claims made by the family, adding that Ravindra was not a permanent employee. But the HC rejected those arguments.
The family members, represented by Advocate Vishwanath Talkute, pleaded against the tribunal's order accepting only 8,000 Singapore dollars as Ravindra's pay for calculating the compensation amount. The tribunal excluded house rent allowance, festival allowance and Rs 3 lakh paid to the family by the company after Ravindra's death, to arrive at the compensation figure.
The HC bench accepted various Supreme Court judgments cited by Talkute to include all the allowances in Ravindra's salary and directed that family be paid compensation accordingly — Rs 4.56 crore with 7.5 per cent annual interest since 2009, taking the total figure to around Rs 7.60 crore.
As per the case details, Ravindra was travelling in car from Pondicherry to Chennai along with his wife Shailaja and two sons — Aniket and Ashish — on June 17, 2008 when the accident occurred.
Around 3.30 pm that day, when the car reached the East Coast Road opposite Tiger Caves, Tamil Nadu, one multi-utility vehicle, allegedly being driven at a very high speed, came from the opposite direction and dashed against the car in which the Kulkarni family was travelling.
Ravindra, Aniket and their driver died on the spot, while Shailaja succumbed a few hours later in a hospital. Ashish survived the crash with serious injuries. Ravindra's parents — 80-year-old Prabhakar and 76-yearold Vijaya — along with the other son Ashish filed a claim before the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal, Pune in 2009.