SC: Payout for hit-and-run death should be Rs. 2 lakh

The Supreme Court accepted the recommendation of the court appointed committee on road safety to increase the minimum compensation for death in a hit-and-run case from the existing Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh and asked all stakeholders, including the Centre, to hold consultations for framing a scheme of payment.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde, Deepak Gupta and Vineet Saran said the present amount of compensation is too less and the law should be amended to enhance the amount. It said the recommendations made by the committee headed by its retired judge Justice K S Radhakrishnan were reasonable and could be implemented till the law is amended. As per the report, a minimum compensation of Rs 50,000 should be paid to any one grievously injured in a hit-and-run case.

Advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, told the bench that a fund of Rs 90 crore was lying with General Insurance Council for disbursal to victims of hit-and-run cases and that the amount should be used for the payment of compensation. He said out of around 1.60 lakh deaths reported in road mishaps in India in 2016, around 20,000 people had died in hit-and-run accidents.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand informed the bench that the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Parliament and was passed by Lok Sabha but it is pending in Rajya Sabha. She said the bill proposed to enhance the amount of compensation for victims of hit-and-run case.

The bench thereafter asked Agrawal to hold consultations with all stake-holders including Centre and General Insurance Council to frame a scheme of payment of compensation to ensure that the amount is paid to the right claimant.

The bench also suggested that the payment of compensation should be streamlined and victims should not be harassed to get the benefit. It said the FIR registered by police about a road accident should be sufficient to award compensation to the victim or the family even if no formal claim petition is filed. It said a copy of the FIR should be immediately sent to the authority concerned to disburse the amount to victims.

The apex court had on April 22, 2014, constituted the committee headed by Justice Radhakrishnan, which has submitted several reports on road safety.