“Any concession in law made in this regard by either counsel would not bind the parties, as it is legally settled that advocates cannot throw away legal rights or enter into arrangements contrary to law”, the bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, S. Abdul Nazeer and Surya Kant observed.
In a judgement disposing of an appeal arising out of the Motor Accident Compensation, lawsuit brought by heirs of a deceased couple who died in an accident, the SC noted that lawyers should not throw away legal rights or enter into agreements contrary to law.
In this case, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal awarded the claimants a cumulative amount of Rs 40.71 lakhs for both of the dead persons. The HC overturned the inclusion of future prospects, partly enabling the appeal brought by the Insurance Firm. The claimants have appealed the decision before the Supreme Court.
However, the insurance company challenging the appeal, argued that the HC decision, in this case, was a consent order and that the counsel for the claimants had conceded to a lower computation under the head of loss of dependency, which thus cannot be questioned in appeal proceedings.
The Delhi HC observed in its judgement, “The learned counsel for the claimants admits fairly in the above-mentioned submissions that the loss of dependence can be re-calculated on the basis of the minimum wages payable to employees in the State of Haryana as in effect on the date of the accident (12.04.2014), with a rate of Rs.5547.10p. She further agrees that one-third can be deducted for personal and living expenses in the calculation of loss of dependence in the case and that there is no opportunity to include any factor of future prospects of increase since there was no evidence of regular employment.”
Taking into account the facts of the case, the SC further noted that, at the time of the accident itself, the claims and the legal obligations were crystallised and adjustments afterwards could not normally impact the pending proceedings.
The Court further observed: “It cannot be disputed that at the time of death, there in fact were four dependents of the deceased and not three. The subsequent death of the deceased’s dependent mother ought not to be a reason for the reduction of motor accident compensation. Claims and legal liabilities crystallise at the time of the accident itself, and changes post thereto ought not to ordinarily affect pending proceedings. Just like how appellant claimants cannot rely upon subsequent increases in minimum wages, the respondent insurer too cannot seek the benefit of the subsequent death of a dependent during the pendency of legal proceedings”.