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It is hard to monetize the domestic work done by a house-mother: SC; awards compensation towards loss of consortium and love and affection

Apoorva Mandhani
9 Feb 2015 4:21 PM GMT
It is hard to monetize the domestic work done by a house-mother: SC; awards compensation towards loss of consortium and love and affection
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While enhancing the compensation awarded for death of a housewife due to rash driving by a tempo driver, an Apex Court bench comprising of Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice R. Banumathi observed, "Even assuming Jayvantiben Jitendra Trivedi was not self-employed doing embroidery and tailoring work, the fact remains that she was a housewife and a home maker. It is hard to monetize the domestic work done by a house-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."

The Court further added, "A house-wife/home-maker does not work by the clock and she is in constant attendance of the family throughout and such services rendered by the home maker has to be necessarily kept in view while calculating the loss of dependency. Thus even otherwise, taking deceased Jayvantiben Jitendra Trivedi as the home maker, it is reasonable to fix her income at Rs.3, 000/- per month."

Hence, the Court also considered the amount of compensation towards loss of consortium and towards love and affection. The Compensation was hence increased to Rs.6,47,000/-, exercising jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, even though the claimants had prayed for a compensation of Rs. 6,47,000/-.

The Appeal was filed before the Supreme Court as the claimants were dissatisfied with the quantum of compensation awarded by the Gujarat High Court. The compensation was awarded on account of death of Smt. Jayvantiben Jitendra Trivedi, who was hit by a tempo being driven in a rash and negligent manner. The Appeals were filed by the husband of the deceased, husband's sisters, daughter and father-in-law.

The respondent, while driving a tempo in a rash and negligent manner, had lost the control over it and hit Jayvantiben, who subsequently succumbed to injuries. The appellants had claimed compensation of Rs.2, 96,480/- along with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Bhuj-Kachchh, Gujarat. They had averred in the claim petition that the deceased was a housewife at the time of accident was doing embroidery and knitting work, earning Rs.900/- per month from the said work.

The Tribunal had awarded a total compensation of Rs.2, 24,000/- with interest at the rate of 15 per cent per annum. An appeal was filed by the respondents before the Gujarat High Court at Ahmedabad. The High Court partly allowed the Appeal, reducing the compensation to Rs.2, 09,400/- along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum.

The appellants then approached the Supreme Court. Supporting the view taken by the Tribunal, the Court observed that considering the nature of the work and the evidence of claimants' witnesses-father-in-law and mother-in-law of the deceased, had the deceased Jayvantiben been alive she would have earned not less than Rs.3, 000/- per month.

Read the judgment here.

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