Compensatory Jurisprudence of Constitutional Courts XIII : Res Ipsa Loquitur II

State Commission relied on principle of ‘res ipsa loquitur’ to affix liability for defect in an airbag system, having regard to nature of collision. National Commission affirmed this finding referring to certain photographs, which showed substantial frontal damage. We do not find any reason to interfere.

We are dealing with a case where in a collision, airbags did not deploy and safety description of goods fell short of its expected quality. The deployment of airbags ought to have prevented injuries being caused to those travelling, particularly in front seat. The failure to provide an airbag system which would meet safety standards as perceived by a car­-buyer of reasonable prudence, in our view, should be subject to punitive damages which can have a deterrent effect. And in computing such punitive damages, capacity of manufacturing enterprise should be a factor. There was no specific exclusion clause to insulate from claim of damages of this nature.

Test of Proportionality has not been failed by State Commission and National Commission.

Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Bose, Hyundai Motor India Limited v. Shailendra Bhatnagar, [Civil Appeal No. 3001 of 2022].