a driver of heavy vehicles – lost his leg – 100% disability – The Appellant suffered from serious injuries in his right leg by an Anterior Cruciate Ligament and a Collateral Ligament Tear. Plastic surgery was performed on his right leg. This led to his right leg getting permanently injured, which resulted in complete disability to continue his vocation as a driver of a heavy motor vehicle. We affirm the judgment of the High Court on assessing the income of the Appellant at Rs. 4,000/- p.m. as per the evidence of his employer. The “functional disability” of the Appellant is assessed as 100%, and the relevant factor would be 201.66 as per Schedule IV to the Act. Consequently, the compensation payable to the Appellant would work out to Rs. 4,83,984/- under Section 4 of the Act. We find that the Appellant has not been awarded any amount towards reimbursement of the medical expenses incurred by him, either by the Commissioner, or by the High Court. The Appellant underwent hospitalization for a period of 65 days’ for medical treatment and surgical operations. We deem it just and appropriate to award a lump sum amount of Rs. 1,00,000/- towards hospitalization and medical expenses incurred by the Appellant. The Respondent – Insurance Company is directed to pay the enhanced amount of compensation to the Appellant along- with Interest @6% p.a. to be calculated one month from the date of the accident till the date of payment within 4 weeks.

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9306 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 31909 of 2017)
Sri Chanappa Nagappa Muchalagoda …Appellant
versus
Divisional Manager, New India Insurance
Company Limited …Respondent
J U D G M E N T
INDU MALHOTRA, J.
Leave granted.

  1. The present Civil Appeal has been filed by the Appellant –
    Claimant for enhancement of the compensation awarded to
    him by the Karnataka High Court (Dharwad Bench) under the
    Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923.
    2
  2. The Appellant – a driver of heavy vehicles, was employed by
    one Sekar Santharam. On 13.05.2006, while he was driving a
    truck bearing No. MH-08H-0390 loaded with sand from
    Islampura towards Ratnagiri, he lost control of the truck due
    to an axle cut, and dashed against a rock on the side of the
    road.
    As a consequence, the truck turtled thrice, and the
    Appellant suffered grievous injuries all over his body. The
    truck was insured with the Respondent – Insurance Company.
  3. The Appellant suffered from serious injuries in his right leg by
    an Anterior Cruciate Ligament and a Collateral Ligament Tear.
    Plastic surgery was performed on his right leg. This led to his
    right leg getting permanently injured, which resulted in
    complete disability to continue his vocation as a driver of a
    heavy motor vehicle.
    The Appellant underwent hospitalization for a total
    period of 65 days, first in Government Hospital, Ratnagiri
    between 13.05.2006 and 01.06.2006 and thereafter, in KIMS
    Hospital, Hubli between 17.06.2006 and 26.08.2006.
    3
  4. The Appellant filed a Claim under the Workmen’s
    Compensation Act, 1923 (“the Act”) before the Labour Officer
    and Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation, SubDivision 2 – Belgaum (“Commissioner”) against the Truck
    Owner and the Insurance Company, praying that an amount
    of Rs. 5,00,000/- be awarded to him as compensation.
  5. The Truck Owner filed his Written Statement, wherein he
    admitted the factum of the accident and the injuries suffered
    by the Appellant. He submitted that he was paying Rs. 4,000/-
    p.m. and Rs. 30 batta per day to the Appellant.
  6. Dr. S.D. Patil – a Knee Specialist from Belagavi who had
    examined the Appellant, deposed that the Appellant can
    neither stand for a long period of time, nor can he fold his legs.
    He was required to use a walking stick, and could not lift heavy
    objects. Dr. Patil opined that the Appellant suffered 37%
    disability in his whole body, and could not perform the work
    of a truck driver any longer.
    4
  7. The Commissioner assessed the Appellant’s income at Rs.
    3,000/- p.m., and held that he had lost 50% of his earning
    capacity. Since the Appellant was 33 years old at the time of
    the accident, 201.66 was taken as the relevant factor as per
    Schedule IV to the Act. Accordingly, the compensation was
    computed at Rs. 1,81,494/-. The Respondent – Insurance
    Company was held liable to pay the amount awarded.
  8. The Appellant filed MFA No. 1569/2008 before the Karnataka
    High Court (Dharwad Bench) for enhancement of the
    compensation awarded by the Commissioner.
    The High Court accepted the income of the Appellant at
    Rs. 4,000/- p.m. as per the statement made by the employer.
    Insofar as the functional disability of the Appellant was
    concerned, the Court held the assessment by the
    Commissioner at 50% was on the lower side, and increased it
    to 60%, since the Appellant could no longer earn his livelihood
    as a driver, and could not even stand for a long time.
    5
    The compensation was accordingly enhanced to Rs.
    2,90,390/- with Interest @12% p.a. payable from one month
    after the date of the accident.
  9. Aggrieved, the Appellant has filed the present Civil Appeal
    before this Court for enhancement of the compensation
    awarded by the High Court.
    We have heard the learned Counsel appearing for the
    parties, and perused the pleadings on record.
    It is the admitted position that the Appellant can no
    longer pursue his vocation as a driver of heavy vehicles. The
    medical evidence on record has corroborated his inability to
    stand for a long period of time, or even fold his legs. As a
    consequence, the Appellant has got permanently incapacitated
    to pursue his vocation as a driver.
    This Court in Raj Kumar v. Ajay Kumar and Ors.,
    1 held
    that:
    “10. Ascertainment of the effect of the permanent
    disability on the actual earning capacity involves
    three steps. The Tribunal has to first ascertain
    what activities the claimant could carry on in spite
    of the permanent disability and what he could not
    1 (2011) 1 SCC 343.
    6
    do as a result of the permanent ability (this is also
    relevant for awarding compensation under the
    head of loss of amenities of life). The second step
    is to ascertain his avocation, profession and
    nature of work before the accident, as also his
    age. The third step is to find out whether (i) the
    claimant is totally disabled from earning any kind
    of livelihood, or (ii) whether in spite of the
    permanent disability, the claimant could still
    effectively carry on the activities and functions,
    which he was earlier carrying on, or (iii) whether
    he was prevented or restricted from discharging
    his previous activities and functions, but could
    carry on some other or lesser scale of activities
    and functions so that he continues to earn or can
    continue to earn his livelihood.
    For example, if the left hand of a claimant is
    amputated, the permanent physical or functional
    disablement may be assessed around 60%. If the
    claimant was a driver or a carpenter, the
    actual loss of earning capacity may virtually
    be hundred percent, if he is neither able to
    drive or do carpentry. On the other hand, if the
    claimant was a clerk in government service, the
    loss of his left hand may not result in loss of
    employment and he may still be continued as a
    clerk as he could perform his clerical functions;
    and in that event the loss of earning capacity will
    not be 100% as in the case of a driver or carpenter,
    nor 60% which is the actual physical disability,
    but far less. In fact, there may not be any need to
    award any compensation under the head of ‘loss
    of future earnings’, if the claimant continues in
    government service, though he may be awarded
    compensation under the head of loss of amenities
    as a consequence of losing his hand. Sometimes
    the injured claimant may be continued in service,
    but may not found suitable for discharging the
    duties attached to the post or job which he was
    earlier holding, on account of his disability, and
    may therefore be shifted to some other suitable
    but lesser post with lesser emoluments, in which
    case there should be a limited award under the
    head of loss of future earning capacity, taking
    note of the reduced earning capacity. It may be
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    noted that when compensation is awarded by
    treating the loss of future earning capacity as
    100% (or even anything more than 50%), the need
    to award compensation separately under the
    head of loss of amenities or loss of expectation of
    life may disappear and as a result, only a token
    or nominal amount may have to be awarded
    under the head of loss of amenities or loss of
    expectation of life, as otherwise there may be a
    duplication in the award of compensation. Be that
    as it may.”
    (emphasis supplied)
  10. In K. Janardhan v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd.,
    2 this Court
    examined the loss of earning capacity in the case of a tanker
    driver who had met with an accident, and lost one of his legs
    due to amputation. The Commissioner for Workmen’s
    Compensation assessed the functional disability of the tanker
    driver as 100% and awarded compensation on that basis. The
    High Court however, referred to Schedule I to the Workmen’s
    Compensation Act, 1923, and held that loss of a leg on
    amputation resulted in only 60% loss of earning capacity. This
    Court set aside the judgment of the High Court, and held that
    since the workman could no longer earn his living as a tanker
    driver due to loss of one leg, the functional disability had to be
    assessed as 100%.
    2 (2008) 8 SCC 518.
    8
    In S. Suresh v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. & Anr.,
    3 this
    Court held that :
    “8. … We are of the opinion that on account of
    amputation of his right leg below knee, he is
    rendered unfit for the work of a driver, which he
    was performing at the time of the accident
    resulting in the said disablement. Therefore, he
    has lost 100% of his earning capacity as a lorry
    driver, more so, when he is disqualified from even
    getting a driving license under the Motor Vehicles
    Act.”
    (emphasis supplied)
    The aforesaid judgments are instructive for assessing the
    compensation payable to the Appellant in the present case. As
    a consequence of the accident, the Appellant has been
    incapacitated for life, since he can walk only with the help of a
    walking stick. He has lost the ability to work as a driver, as he
    would be disqualified from even getting a driving license. The
    prospect of securing any other manual labour job is not
    possible, since he would require the assistance of a person to
    ensure his mobility and manage his discomfort. As a
    consequence, the functional disability suffered by the
    Appellant must be assessed as 100%.
    3 (2010) 13 SCC 777.
    9
  11. We affirm the judgment of the High Court on assessing the
    income of the Appellant at Rs. 4,000/- p.m. as per the evidence
    of his employer. The “functional disability” of the Appellant is
    assessed as 100%, and the relevant factor would be 201.66 as
    per Schedule IV to the Act. Consequently, the compensation
    payable to the Appellant would work out to Rs. 4,83,984/-
    under Section 4 of the Act.
  12. We find that the Appellant has not been awarded any amount
    towards reimbursement of the medical expenses incurred by
    him, either by the Commissioner, or by the High Court. The
    Appellant underwent hospitalization for a period of 65 days’
    for medical treatment and surgical operations.
    We deem it just and appropriate to award a lump sum
    amount of Rs. 1,00,000/- towards hospitalization and medical
    expenses incurred by the Appellant.
  13. The Respondent – Insurance Company is directed to pay the
    enhanced amount of compensation to the Appellant along-
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    with Interest @6% p.a. to be calculated one month from the
    date of the accident till the date of payment within 4 weeks.
    The Civil Appeal stands allowed in the aforesaid terms. All
    pending Applications, if any, are accordingly disposed of.
    Ordered accordingly.
    ……………………………….J.
    (UDAY UMESH LALIT)
    .………………………………J.
    (INDU MALHOTRA)
    New Delhi,
    December 10, 2019