Thirty six years after a speeding vehicle knocked him down and permanently changed the course of his life, a Napean Sea Road resident will finally get more than Rs 1.61 crore as compensation from the owner of the vehicle.
The Bombay high court last week held that Rupesh Shah, now 44 years old, was entitled to compensation worth Rs 39.92 lakh, in addition to interest at 9% per annum with effect from April 1979, when the claim petition had been filed. The interest will amount to more than Rs 1.22 crore. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Mumbai, had earlier granted him a meagre sum of Rs 4.12 lakh.
The accident that took place on October 16, 1978 had rendered him mentally and physically disabled. At around 4.15pm, when eight-year-old Shah was crossing Napean Sea Road with a house help, a speeding car knocked him down. The seriously injured child was taken to Breach Candy Hospital, where he lay unconscious for five months. The car was owned by Elegant Industries Limited.
In March 1979, Shah regained consciousness, but because of the damage caused to his brain, he was practically paralysed. Doctors said the brain injury had resulted in weakness in the upper and lower limbs, a debilitation in the coordination of all muscles, slowness of speech, and mental retardation.
In April 1979, Shah’s father approached the Accident Claims Tribunal, initially claiming compensation of Rs 1 lakh. The claim was subsequently increased to Rs 15 lakh and thereafter to Rs 50 lakh, as different medical examinations made it clear that Shah would have to live with cerebral palsy and needed lifelong care and treatment.
The tribunal, however, granted him Rs 4.12 lakh in its order on March 30, 1990. Shah challenged the order before the high court, seeking enhancement. He argued the accident had taken place solely because of rash and negligent driving of the car and therefore, its owner – Elegant Industries – and insurer – Oriental Fire and General Insurance Company – were liable to pay enhanced compensation.
The opponents, on the other hand, cited contributory negligence of Shah and the house help, and argued he was not entitled to any sum.
The high court, however, rejected the contention raised on behalf of the opponents and held the victim was entitled to enhancement, in view of the fact that he was almost completely disabled. Justice Rajesh Ketkar took into consideration the fact that the driver of the vehicle had been prosecuted and convicted by a magistrate for rash and negligent driving.