On October 14, 2013, Subash Babu, a 35-year-old manager of a private firm, was killed in an accident while driving a car from Perumanallur to Erode. His wife and other family members who were travelling with him escaped with injuries. His wife, an eyewitness, told Tiruppur motor accident claims tribunal that a van which was going in front of their car turned right without showing any signal and their car rammed against the van and her husband died in the impact.
The tribunal, however, fixed 75% contributory negligence on the victim based on police FIR, which blamed Babu for negligent driving, and awarded Rs 10.4 lakh as compensation by fixing Babu’s monthly income at Rs 20,000 per month.
Aggrieved by the order, the family moved the HC. In August 2018, Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice Krishnan Ramasamy of the Madras HC quashed the order of the tribunal and held that since there was no rebuttal witness provided by the insurance company, the accident happened only due to the negligence of the van driver. Taking into consideration the victim’s tax records and pay slip, the court fixed the victim’s annual income at 12.3 lakh and computed the compensation to be paid by the insurance company as 1.85 crore.
Agreeing with the HC ruling, the Supreme Court bench said, “In view of such evidence on record, there is no reason to give weightage to the contents of the FIR. If any evidence before the tribunal runs contrary to the contents in the FIR, the evidence which is recorded before the tribunal has to be given weightage.”