Motor Accidents Claims: Parents Entitled To Be Awarded Loss Of Consortium Under The Head Of Filial Consortium, Says SC [Read Judgment]
“An accident leading to the death of a child causes great shock and agony to the parents and family of the deceased. The greatest agony for a parent is to lose their child during their lifetime.”
The Supreme Court has observed that in a case where a parent has lost their minor child, or unmarried son or daughter, the parents are entitled to be awarded loss of consortium under the head of filial consortium.
The bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra in Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd vs. Nanu Ram Alias Chuhru Ram also observed that court is duty-bound and entitled to award “just compensation”, irrespective of whether any plea in that behalf was raised by the claimant.
The bench also explained the concept of ‘consortiums’ taking note that the MACT, as well as the high court, have not awarded any compensation with respect to loss of consortium and loss of estate.
‘Spousal Consortium’, ‘Parental Consortium’, and ‘Filial Consortium’
The bench then explained the categories of consortium and observed: “In legal parlance, “consortium” is a compendious term which encompasses ‘spousal consortium’, ‘parental consortium’, and ‘filial consortium’. The right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, solace and affection of the deceased, which is a loss to his family. With respect to a spouse, it would include sexual relations with the deceased spouse. Spousal consortium is generally defined as rights pertaining to the relationship of a husband-wife which allows compensation to the surviving spouse for loss of “company, society, co-operation, affection, and aid of the other in every conjugal relation.” Parental consortium is granted to the child upon the premature death of a parent, for loss of “parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and training.”
The bench observed that parents are entitled to be awarded loss of consortium under the head of filial consortium and said: “An accident leading to the death of a child causes great shock and agony to the parents and family of the deceased. The greatest agony for a parent is to lose their child during their lifetime. Children are valued for their love, affection, companionship and their role in the family unit.”
The court also observed that there is also concept of parental consortium, which is awarded to children who lose their parents in motor vehicle accidents under the Act and only few high courts (an example of Rajasthan High Court is mentioned) have awarded compensation on this count.
The bench further said the amount of compensation to be awarded as consortium would be governed by the principles of awarding compensation under ‘Loss of Consortium’ as laid down by the constitution bench in Pranay Sethi case.
In this case, the bench awarded the father and the sister of the deceased an amount of Rs. 40,000 each for loss of filial consortium. Invoking the powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the bench also awarded them an amount of Rs. 15,000 towards loss of estate.