Thursday, March 10, 2011

Compensation awarded to parents of married daughter who died in accident

“Parents should not be deprived of compensation if their married daughter dies accident.”

Dependency of parents does not cease on the marriage of their daughter and if such a view is permitted, it will amount to treating women as property given in marriage, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has said.

Justice D.Hariparanthaman made this observation while passing orders on an appeal in which the question of law was whether the parents who lost their married daughter in a road accident were entitled to compensation for the death.

Earlier, the petitioners, Glory Bai and Thangamani, said their daughter Jesikala, son-in-law and minor grandson died in a road accident on March 15, 2002. They claimed compensation, but it was rejected by the motor accident claims tribunal on the ground that they were not the legal representatives after the wedding of their daughter. Hence, the present appeal.

Accepting the submissions of counsel and the court-appointed amicus curiae that the term ‘legal representative' as it stood had wider meaning not confining itself to the spouse, parents and children of the deceased and it included the parents of married daughters also, the Judge observed that there was no difficulty in setting aside the tribunal's order. However, United India Insurance restricted its liability and contended that the applicants were not the dependants of the deceased married daughter. Therefore, they were entitled to compensation alone without applying the ‘multiplier system.'

Counsel and the amicus curiae contended that if the father of the deceased woman's husband could be termed a dependant of his son, it was atrocious to say that the parents of the deceased married daughter were not dependants of their daughter only on grounds of marriage. Citing judgments, they said the parents of the deceased married daughter were also entitled to compensation applying the multiplier method.

The judge said the amicus curiae had correctly contended that the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act should be read in context with the International Convention approved by the Supreme Court read with Article 51 of the Constitution. The parents were thus statutorily recognised as dependants of married daughters and they were given statutory protection to seek maintenance treating them as dependants and that therefore they were not merely legal representatives.

Therefore, the judge said compensation should be awarded to the parents of the deceased married daughter in an accident by applying the multiplier method. The Judge fixed the compensation at Rs.3.50 lakh.

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