In a rare case, the Delhi High Court has equated a young woman scientist’s prospective salary with an assistant professor of the IIT while awarding her family a compensation of almost Rs 64 lakh on account of her death in a road mishap two years ago.
Lending credence to a few judgments of different High Courts and the Supreme Court, Justice G P Mittal held that potential income of a professional could validly be taken into account to ascertain compensatory amount for legal representatives.
“In my view, with her research and experience of 12 years after her post-graduation, she could have conveniently landed a job as an assistant professor in IIT...In view of the division bench judgment of Andhra Pradesh High Court, it would be appropriate to take her potential salary as that of an assistant professor in IIT,” noted Justice Mittal, while asking a nationalised insurance company to pay her family Rs 63.75 lakh as damages.
Mitashree Das, 35, had lost her life in a road accident in August 2010. A scientist in Biotechnology (Genetics), Mitashree had completed her MPhil from Delhi University and also registered herself as a Research Fellow for PhD in 2008.
While pursuing her PhD, she was conferred with the ‘Young Scientist Award’ in 2008 by Indian Society of Human Genetics. Mitashree also worked as a Research Fellow at a research centre at Amsterdam in Netherlands.
Before completion of her PhD, she was offered an annual package of euro 41,288 by the Department of Clinical Genetics, Netherlands, for two years, commencing from October 2010. Before she could decide on the offer, she died in the accident.
Challenging the trial court order on compensation, the counsel for the New India Assurance Co Ltd contended that the salary offer in a foreign country could not be considered to determine the loss of dependency without any evidence of liability towards tax and personal and living expenses.
The counsel further urged that although Mitashree was a brilliant scientist, she could have also got employment in India on a salary of around Rs 50,000 per month. “The compensation awarded on the basis of the Fellowship’s remuneration converted into euros is not reasonable,” said the counsel.
Justice Mittal differed with the company’s views and noted that Mitashree was involved in research work since 1998.
“From her profile, it was evident that she had opportunity to earn not only in this country but abroad as well. She had an offer for euro 40,000 per annum for a period of two years from the date of her joining the Department of Clinical Genetics, Netherlands. In my view, with her research and experience of 12 years after her post-graduation, she could have conveniently landed a job as an assistant professor in IIT or a scientist at middle level in any department or public sector organisation owned by the Government of India,” held the court.