Redressing a long-held bias against housewives in awarding compensation in motor accident cases, the SC has said they should not be discriminated against simply because they are not working.
Rejecting the view that a housewife was entitled to a lesser compensation in motor accident, a bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice AK Ganguly awarded a compensation of Rs15 lakh to a woman from Ahmadabad who became completely bed-ridden in an accident in 1990.
“Just because she is a homemaker is no reason why the courts should be miserly in fixing compensation for her,” the bench said reversing the concurrent findings of a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) and the Gujarat HC.
Urviben Chiragbhai Sheth was a 30-year-old widow with two dependent children when she met with an accident in 1990. The victim had claimed she was running a beauty parlour and earning Rs1,500 to Rs1,600 a month.
The MACT, which held the driver, the owner of the vehicle and the insurance firm liable for the accident, awarded a compensation of Rs6.07 lakh, saying the amount was computed with the consent of the parties.
The Gujarat HC rejected Sheth’s appeal against the MACT verdict on the ground that the compensation amount was computed with consent of the parties, despite her advocate filing an affidavit that no such consent was given by her.
Reversing the concurrent MACT and Gujarat HC findings, the SC said: “Assuming the appellant is not running the parlour, the fact remains that she has two children and her husband died prior to the incident. Therefore, the dependence of the children and the running of the family is to be shouldered by her even though she is infirm and bedridden.”