The Delhi High Court upheld the addition of House Rent Allowance (HRA) to Income as the HRA was not being paid to the deceased due to the allotment of government accommodation. United India Insurance Co Ltd, the appellant challenged the Award passed by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal-02, Delhi (‘Tribunal’) in MAC Petition titled Smt.
Sonia & Ors. v. Sh. Satish Kumar & Ors. The Claim Petition was registered on the Detailed Accident Report (‘DAR’) filed by the police corresponding to the investigation carried out in FIR No. 1484/15 under Sections 279/304A Indian Penal Code, 1860 registered at PS Narela. As per the DAR, on 21.11.2015, the deceased-Arun Kumar was going on his motorcycle and at about 1:15 pm, when he reached Singhu Border Road in front of the Deepak Apartments, Narela, Delhi, one Maruti Van bearing registration no. HR-55-L-6792 (‘Offending Vehicle’), which was being driven at high speed and in a rash and negligent manner, came and hit his motorcycle.
As a result of the accident, the deceased fell from his motorcycle and he and his motorcycle came under the Offending Vehicle. The deceased was rushed to the SRHC Hospital, Narela, Delhi, where he was medically examined and was declared as brought dead. The Tribunal, by way of the Impugned Award, has held that the deceased sustained fatal injuries in the road accident due to the Offending Vehicle being driven in a rash and negligent manner. The Tribunal awarded Rs.69,56,000/- along with interest at the rate of 9% per annum with effect from the date of the filing of the petition, that is 28.01.2016, till the date of its realization, in favour of the Legal Representatives of the deceased.
The Insurance Company challenged the Impugned Award and submitted that the Tribunal had erred in adding the House Rent Allowance to the income of the deceased, which admittedly was not being paid to the deceased at the time of the accident. The Tribunal has rightly added the House Rent Allowance to the income of the deceased. In this regard, the Tribunal has placed reliance on the statement of Head Constable Anil Kumar (PW1), who deposed that though the deceased was entitled to HRA of 30% of his Basic Pay plus Grade Pay, he was not being paid the same as the deceased had been allotted a Government Accommodation. In Reliance General Insurance Company Ltd. v. Vikas, it was held that “7. As has been stated by me earlier, the deceased was not being paid any House Rent Allowance as he was provided official residential accommodation. Thus, an addition of 30% in the basic pay of Rs. 11,180/- was required to be made as a component of HRA because the facility of residential accommodation would be withdrawn by the employer on the death of the deceased. ….”
It was evident that, with the death of the deceased, the family would have to vacate the Government Accommodation. The Government Accommodation allotted to the deceased was for the benefit of the entire family and the deceased was not being paid the HRA only due to the allotment of a Government Accommodation to him. In terms of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Sunil Sharma and the Court in Vikas, the single bench of Justice Navin Chawla held that the amount which the deceased would otherwise have received towards HRA but for the allotment of the Government Accommodation to him has been rightly added by the Tribunal towards his total income.
The amount so deposited shall be released in favour of the claimants by the terms and conditions of the Impugned Award. Further held that the statutory amounts deposited by the Insurance Company shall be released in favour of the Insurance Company along with interest accrued thereon.