IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL No. 1339 OF 2017
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.9471/2015)
State of Himachal Pradesh
& Ors. ….Appellant(s)
Naval Kumar alias
Rohit Kumar …Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
1) Leave granted.
2) This appeal is filed against the final judgment and order dated
09.01.2015 passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla in Civil
Writ Petition No. 475 of 2013 whereby the High Court allowed the writ
petition filed by the respondent herein and awarded the compensation of
Rs.1,25,00,000/- under different heads for the injuries sustained by the
respondent due to negligence of the State.
3) We herein set out the facts, in brief, to appreciate the issue
involved in this appeal.
4) On 18.03.2012 at about 3.30 p.m., the respondent-Naval Kumar alias
Rohit Kumar, who was 8 years old at the time of incident, accompanied his
mother to the fields to collect “Saag” where he got electrocuted with a
high tension live wire (11 KV) commonly known as Lahru-Chowari Line. He
received grievous burn and other injuries and became unconscious. On the
same day, FIR was registered at the instance of the mother of the
5) The respondent was initially taken to Referal Hospital Chowari for
treatment. Thereafter he was referred to Dr. Rajendra Prasad Medical
Hospital, Tanda, District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. He was operated on
25.03.2012 and his both arms were amputated. He was admitted in Dr.
Rajendra Prasad Medical Hospital, Tanda w.e.f. 18.03.2012 to 03.05.2012.
The respondent suffered 100% disability. During the course of
hospitalization, the family of the respondent had to incur expenses
exceeding Rs.2,00,000/- including medicines, taxi charges, attendant
charges, special diet charges etc. The respondent has now become totally
dependent upon family members even for day-to-day activities for his entire
life. The respondent was throughout brilliant student in his studies and
had to discontinue his studies after this unfortunate incident.
6) The respondent, through his mother and natural guardian, namely, Smt.
Lata Devi, filed writ petition being W.P. No. 475 of 2013 in the High Court
against the appellants herein claiming a compensation of Rs.50,00,000/-
under various heads and also stated that they have incurred Rs.2,00,000/-
for medical expenses. The respondent also prayed for a direction to the
authorities to install and maintain all the electricity wires, conductors,
apparatus etc. strictly in accordance with the Electricity Act, Rules,
Regulations etc. so that no such untoward incident would take place in the
7) The High Court, by impugned judgment dated 09.01.2015, allowed the
writ petition filed by the respondent herein and awarded a compensation of
Rs.1,25,00,000/- under different heads to the respondent.
8) Against the said judgment, the appellants have filed this appeal by
way of special leave before this Court.
9) Heard Mr. J.S. Attri, learned senior counsel for the appellants and
Mr. Nishant Ramakanrao Katneshwarkar, learned counsel for the respondent.
10) Learned counsel for the appellant-State of H.P. while assailing the
legality and correctness of the impugned order urged that the High Court
erred in awarding Rs.1,25,00,000/- to the respondent-claimant by way of
compensation for the disabilities caused on account of electrocution
suffered by the respondent. It was his submission that the award of
compensation by the High Court is on much higher side with no material
evidence on record in support thereof and further it is essentially based
on assumptions and presumptions, which is not legally sustainable in law.
11) Learned counsel also contended that though the respondent
unfortunately lost his both the arms thereby suffered 100% permanent
disability for his whole life at such young age, yet having regard to
several relevant factors governing the issue, the compensation awarded by
the High Court appears to be on higher side and, hence, it deserves to be
reduced so as to make it a reasonable one.
12) In reply, learned counsel for the respondent supported the impugned
order and contended that it does not call for any interference. According
to learned counsel, it is based on proper reasoning and being just and
reasonable, therefore, does not call for any interference.
13) Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and on perusal of
the record of the case, we find some force in the submissions urged by the
learned counsel for the appellant- State and, hence, we are inclined to
interfere in the impugned order and, in consequence, reduce the
compensation awarded by the High Court to the extent indicated infra.
14) The short question that arises for consideration in this appeal is
whether the High Court, in the facts and circumstances of the case, was
justified in awarding Rs.1,25,00,000/- to the respondent by way of
compensation for the injuries sustained by the respondent in an accident
which occurred on 18.03.2012?
15) The High Court held and, in our view, rightly that the incident in
question occurred due to negligence of the State and its authorities and
hence the State was vicariously liable to compensate the respondent for the
losses sustained by the respondent. It may be mentioned that the State
rightly did not challenge this finding and hence we need not go into its
correctness. The High Court further held and, in our view, rightly that
having regard to the family background of the respondent and further
respondent’s excellent performance as a brilliant student in studies, he
would have easily earned Rs.30,000/- per month in his life. We find no good
ground to interfere in this finding of fact, which, in our opinion, is
based on proper material on record.
16) The High Court, however, further awarded Rs.10,00,000/- towards loss
of companionship, life amenities/pleasures, and happiness, Rs.10,00,000/-
for pain and suffering, mental distress, trauma and discomfort and
inconvenience, Rs.10,00,000/- towards attendant/nursing expenses, and
lastly, Rs.5,00,000/- for securing artificial/robotic limbs and future
medical expenses. In our considered view, the award of compensation under
these 4 heads appears to be on very higher side and is not supported by any
evidence. It is, in our view, based on assumptions and presumptions to
which we do not concur. In our view, entitlement under these heads is one
thing and the quantum of grant of compensation under these heads is another
thing. In this case, as rightly urged by the learned counsel for the
appellant-State that lump sum award of compensation under these heads is on
higher side and is not supported by any evidence. It is, therefore, not
17) In our considered view, taking into consideration the facts and
circumstances of the case such as respondent’s family background, his age
(8 years), nature of permanent disability suffered by the respondent, his
performance in studies, the determination of monthly/yearly income made by
the High Court, expenses incurred and all the relevant factors, which are
usually taken into account in awarding compensation to the victim, the
respondent is held entitled for a total lump sum compensation of
Rs.90,00,000/- (Rs. Ninety lacs) together with interest payable at the rate
of 6% p.a. in place of Rs.1,25,00,000/- awarded by the High Court.
18) The award of Rs.90,00,000/- together with interest payable at the
rate of 6% p.a., in our view, would fetch sufficient regular monthly income
to the respondent by way of interest alone, if the awarded sum is deposited
in the Bank and would thus take care of respondent’s upbringing and other
needs for the rest of his life. The award of compensation determined by us
is just and reasonable compensation payable to the respondent.
19) In view of foregoing discussion, the appeal succeeds and is allowed
in part. The impugned order is modified to the extent indicated above by
reducing the compensation awarded by the High Court.
20) In other words, the compensation awarded by the High Court is,
accordingly, reduced from Rs.1,25,000,00/- to Rs.90,00,000/- with
interest payable at the rate of 6% p.a. from the date of filing of the writ
21) Let the appellant-State deposit the entire amount, as has been
awarded by this Court, within 3 months from the date of receipt of the copy
of this judgment in the High Court or pay to the respondent through his
parents after proper verification.
[ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE] New Delhi;
February 02, 2017