Thursday, July 26, 2012

HC: Adults also entitled to damages for death of aged mother

Adults also entitled to damages for death of aged mother: HC

MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S.

MADURAI, July 25, 2012

A mother will always be an asset and never a liability, says judge

Not only minors but also adult children, irrespective of their gender, are entitled to compensation from insurance companies in the event of death of their aged mothers in road accidents, the Madras High Court Bench here has ruled.

Justice S. Vimala passed the ruling while awarding a compensation of Rs. 2.31 lakh with interest at the rate of 7.5 per cent per annum to two sons of a 60-year-old fruit vendor who died after being knocked down by a car in Tiruchi on January 28, 2010. Disposing of an appeal filed by the claimants, the judge said that major children could not be excluded from the definition of 'dependents' just because they had completed 18 years of age. As children grow old, the nature and extent of dependency might vary depending upon their needs, but it could never be said that they are not dependents at all.

Further, the dependency of a family upon the aged mother need not necessarily be financial dependency alone. It could also be emotional, psychological and moral dependencies too. A word of advice, a word of solace or a word of caution by the mothers might provide complete solace or solution which nobody else could provide. "Mother, considered equivalent to god, is well known for her role in the creation, development, and protection of the children in the family, and has no retirement from the household service. There may be age for retirement from the government service or even private service but not from household services."

"Aged women are neither accustomed nor attached to the concept of tiredness. It is common knowledge that aged parents remain as a beacon light for the future generations in the family. Old people are repositories of knowledge... they can pass on their experiences to younger generations from which the latter can benefit," the judge said. The present appeal was filed against the award of a limited compensation of Rs. 1 lakh by a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal in Tiruchi towards loss of love and affection alone. The tribunal had refused to order compensation under any other heads on the ground that the aged woman would have only been a liability and not an asset to the family.

Irked over such observation made by the tribunal, especially when there was evidence to prove that the woman was earning her livelihood and also supporting the family by selling fruits on the roadside, Ms. Justice Vimala said, "The tribunals were not expected to turn a Nelson's eye to the positive evidence and act on whims and fancies or presumptions."

When legislation aims for social justice, this kind of attitude and approach towards the award of compensation would frustrate the object of legislation, and therefore it should have been avoided (by the tribunal)," she cautioned.

The judge determined the monthly salary of the deceased woman to be Rs. 3,000 and multiplied it for nine years. And after deducting one-third of the amount towards notional personal expenses that could have been incurred by the woman had she been alive, the rest was awarded as compensation to the two claimants.

They were also granted Rs. 5,000 towards loss of love and affection and another Rs. 5,000 towards funeral expenses.

Courtesy_

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