The Kerala High Court has held that, while computing compensation for dependency of a widow on the death of her husband under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, her remarriage shall not be a decisive factor.
Justice N. Nagaresh observed that the loss of dependency consequent to the death of the husband does not cease merely because she has remarried or became self-reliant.
The issue considered by the Court in this appeal against Motor Accident Claims Tribunal order was whether the entitlement of a widow for compensation consequent to the death of her husband in a road traffic accident, will diminish due to her remarriage during the pendency of the proceedings before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.? The parents and the widow of the deceased were the appellants.
The court observed that it is a settled position that a divorced wife or a widow can also maintain a petition under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
While considering the appeal, the Court observed that the claimant would not have thought of a remarriage, but for the untimely death of her husband and that it was not a remarriage on account of divorce. The judge said:
"The Court has to consider the psychological hurdles that the widow will face on account of remarriage. The society is changing. The age old concept of a remarried widow cutting off all relations with the family of her ex-husband, is becoming a story of the past. Fact remains that the 1 st respondent was dependent on the deceased and would have remained so, but for the demise of her husband consequent to the accident. The death has indeed resulted in loss of dependency. After the death of husband, a widow may go for employment and become self-dependent or may opt for remarriage. Either way, the loss of dependency consequent to the death of the husband does not cease merely because she has remarried or became self-reliant. The word dependency and legal representative, therefore, should receive a pragmatic interpretation."
While enhancing the compensation, the Court further observed:
"In the present day society, no one wants or expects a young widow to lace herself in white attire or wear widow's weeds and mourn her entire life. The society has evolved. In spite of remarriage, a widow may keep her relations and discharge her duties towards her former in-laws even after remarriage. Such matters cannot be speculated. Those are all imponderables. Courts will not normally entertain actuarial evidence on such imponderables. "
Case name: Glanis vs Lazar ManjilaCase no.: MACA.No.1936 OF 2008Coram: Justice N. NagareshCounsel: Advocates PV Baby, John Joseph Vettikadu