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 the Supreme Court decision in Jitendra Khimshankar Trivedi & Ors Vs. Kasam Daud Kumbhar & Ors in which the Court 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.”
The Court also placed reliance on the top court’s decision in Lata Wadhwa and Others Vs. State of Bihar and other in which the accident had taken place in 1981 and the Court evaluated the contribution of a house wife at ₹3,000 per month.
The Court noted that in the present case, the accident happened in 2013, that is, 32 years after the case of Lata Wadhwa.
It, therefore, proceeded to fix the monthly income of the deceased at ₹5,000.
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, as per the apex court decision in Sarla Verma. Vs. DTC.
Further, as per the top court’s decision in National Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Pranay Shethi & Ors., the Court in the instant case fixed the compensation under the remaining heads as follows: loss of estate, oss of consortium and Funeral expenses at ₹15,000, ₹40,000 and ₹15,000 respectively.
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, Mrinal kanti Debnath, 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.