The Hon’ble High Court of Kerala vide order dated 30.06.2020, 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.
The said order was passed in response to an appeal filed by the wife and parents of late Anil Abraham who succumbed to his injuries on 21.01.2002 owing to an accident that took place on 08.01.2002 while he was riding a motorcycle through Ernakulam Palarivattom road and was knocked down by a car driven by its owner.
The Appellants then approached the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Muvattupuzha seeking compensation of ₹25, 00, 000/- (Rupees Twenty Five Lakhs Only/).
The Respondent Owner of the car contested the said claim stating that the accident was only due to the negligent driving of the deceased. The Respondent Owner further submitted that since the motorcycle of the deceased was secured by an insurance policy, it was Respondent No. 2, the Insurer who was liable to pay the said amount.
Stating that the accident was due to the negligent driving of the deceased, Respondent No.2, i.e. the Insurer submitted that the first Appellant, i.e. the wife of the deceased had remarried and was therefore not entitled to any amount as compensation for the death of her former husband.
The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal agreed to the fact that the accident was caused by the negligence of the deceased and thereby passed an award to a reduced amount of ₹7, 64,500/- (Rupees Seven Lakhs Sixty Four Thousand Five Hundred).
The Counsels for the Appellants in the present case contended that even after showing sufficient proof of the deceased’s monthly income of ₹25,000/- (Rupees Twenty Five Thousand Only/), the Tribunal fixed notional monthly income at ₹6,000/- (Rupees Six Thousand Only/).
On the other hand, Counsel for the Respondent argued that the compensation should be brought down, owing to the remarriage of the Appellant wife.
Considering the qualifications of the deceased, the remittances he was making while he was working abroad and future prospects in employment of the deceased, Justice N. Nagaresh held that the Tribunal ought to have had fixed the income of the deceased at least at ₹10,500/- (₹7,500 + ₹3,000 towards future prospects at the rate of 40%) without making any deductions towards personal and living expenses.
Taking note of the Respondent’s argument of the Appellant wife’s remarriage, the Hon’ble High Court stated that even if a remarried widow is not a dependent on the deceased, absence of dependency will not disentitle the widow to become a legal representative. The Hon’ble High Court further stated as follows, “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.”
Stressing upon the difficulties faced by widows in the society, Justice N. Nagaresh stated that the loss of dependency consequent to the death of the husband does not cease merely because a woman has remarried or has become self-reliant.
The Hon’ble High Court thus allowed the said Motor Accident Claims Appeal by enhancing the compensation amount to ₹18,01,500/- (Rupees Eighteen Lakhs One thousand and Five Hundred Only/) with an interest rate of 8.5% per annum from the date of the present appeal.
The Respondent Insurer was thereby directed to pay the said amount within 30 days of the present order.
Order:MACA 1936 OF 2018