New Delhi: The Gauhati High Court recently observed that terming a deceased housewife a ‘skilled worker,’ while deciding a motor accident claim, does not do justice to her multifarious role in managing the house, reports Bar and Bench.
Justice Malasri Nandi was hearing an appeal filed by the minor daughters and widowed mother of the deceased against Motor Accident Claims Tribunal order which had awarded ₹4,25,000 as compensation.
The tribunal had arrived at the amount after factoring in funeral expenses, and losses of estate, consortium, and love and affection. The respondent-insurance company submitted that the husband of the deceased was not dependent on the deceased wife's income and thus the compensation amount, as calculated in the order, does not include an amount of compensation for her lost income.
The counsel for the claimants said the appeal was on the ground that the claimants are minor daughters and the widowed mother of the deceased who had an income of her own (since she was employed as an Anganwadi helper and her monthly salary was ₹1,500).
The petitioners are her dependents and such loss of dependency should be considered and the tribunal's award be modified, it was argued.
The court said that the argument of the insurance company that if a loss of dependency is to be considered, the income of the deceased should be fixed at ₹1,500 given her fixed earnings as an Anganwadi worker, is flawed.
Justice Nandi relied on a Supreme Court decision in which the judges had, while fixing the homemaker's income at ₹3,000 per month, held that "it is hard to monetize the domestic work done by a housewife/mother. The service of the mother/wife is available 24 hours and her duties are never fixed. Courts have recognized the contribution made by the wife to the house is invaluable and that it cannot be computed in terms of money."
Noting that the deceased woman was 40 years old at the time of her death, the court ruled that the compensation for her annual income would be calculated for 15 years.
The compensation amount was thus increased to ₹9,70,000. In allowing the appeal, the court noted that the daughters were minors at the time of their mother's death.
Thus, the court held that 80 percent of the compensation will be divided between the two minor daughters and balance 20 percent will go to the claimant no. 1/ husband, if he is not re-married. In case the husband is re-married, then the daughters will get 100 percent of the computed compensation, the court added. – BAR AND BENCH.