How to value human life?
Human life is most precious. It is extremely difficult to decide on the quantum of compensation in medical negligence case as the same is highly subjective in nature.
In case of Sarla Verma (2009) 6 SCC 121, Supreme Court discussed “just compensation.
In Kunal Saha case (2014) 1 SCC 384, Supreme Court rejected the multiplier method and held that a “no-fault” motor vehicle accident should not be compared with the case of death from medical negligence under any condition. It was held that there were problems in using a “strait-jacket formula” for determining the quantum of compensation. The multiplier method used in motor accident cases thus is not conclusive for just, fair and adequate compensation. I
n Halsbury Laws of England 4thEdition page 446, it has been stated with regard to non-pecuniary loss that pattern of compensation awarded is for pain and suffering and loss of amenity constitutes a conventional sum which is taken to be a sum which society deems fair, fairness being interpreted in the light of previous decisions”.
In Nizam’s case (2009) 6 SCC 1 the Supreme Court did not apply the multiplier method and awarded compensation based on the nature of injury, expenditure incurred and expenditure likely in future. Thus there is no restriction upon courts while awarding compensation it has to be confined to what is demanded by the complainant.
In V. Krishna Kumar (2015) 9 SCC 388, Supreme Court while relying on the principle of “restitutio in integrum” as recognized in Malay Kumar Ganguly case (2009) 9 SCC 221 and Kunal Saha (2014) 1 SCC 384 has further weighed the “apportioning of inflation” based on the RBI data of average inflationary rate between 1990-1991 and 2014-2015 and formulated standard future value; (FV) formula as below:
FV = PV (Present Value) x (1+r)n ( r= rate of return; n = time period)
Recently, the Constitution Bench of Supreme Court in the case of National Insurance Co Ltd (2017) Scale 12 determined just compensation in fatal accident cases has inter alia concluded that while determining the income, an addition of 50% of actual salary to the income of the deceased towards future prospective, where the deceased had a permanent job and was below the age of 40 years, should be made. The addition should be 30%, if the age was between 40-50 years. In case the deceased is was between the age of 50-60 years the addition should be 15%. Actual salary should be read as actual salary less tax. In case the deceased was self employed of on a fixed salary, an addition of 40% of the established income when the deceased was less than 40 years of age, 25% when the deceased was 40 to 50 years and 10% for the age group between 50-60 years. The established income means the income minus the tax component.