The Supreme Court has restored the compensation amount of Rs.88,73,798 awarded to her by the State Commission after hearing an appeal against the National Consumer Redressal Commission’s reduction of compensation in the case of a student who became ill during a school tour and became bedridden as a result of the school’s negligence.
In an appeal filed by the complainant who was aggrieved by the National Consumer Redressal Commission’s judgement decreasing the compensation given to her from Rs.88,73,798/- to Rs.50 lakhs, a Division Bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Subhash Reddy issued the instruction.
On a school tour in North India, a Bangalore girl student becomes bedridden with meningo encephalitis (brain fever) as a result of instructors’ negligence. The girl was in class IX at the time of the incident, which occurred in 2006.
The school administration has been earlier ordered to pay the girl student Rs 88.73 lakh in compensation by the State Consumer Commission. The National Consumer Commission, however, reduced the compensation amount to Rs 50 lakh when the school administration filed an appeal. The disgruntled party took the National Consumer Commission’s decision to the Supreme Court.
While acknowledging that an appellate authority has the capacity to limit compensation, the Supreme Court has emphasised that this authority stems from the power of judicial discretion to be utilised in the circumstances of a case.
The Apex Court stated, “The authority to exercise judicial discretion is obviously broad, but it is naturally restricted by the requirement of a wise exercise of discretionary jurisdiction.”
The Bench has stated that the order must represent proper consideration of the facts of the case, followed by a brief statement of why the appellate authority believed that judicial discretion was required, including a discussion of why it believed the compensation was excessive and required reduction.
“Judicial discretion cannot be employed arbitrarily to the detriment of another,” the Bench stated.
The National Commission has not held a meeting and no grounds have been given for its decision to lower compensation, according to the Bench. It further noted that, rather than opining that the compensation given under any particular heading was excessive, it simply suggested that the amount be reduced.
“In the lack of such material, debate, or logic, the reduction in compensation is manifestly arbitrary and so unsustainable,” the Bench stated.