In an unprecedented move, a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal has ruled that a man should get compensation if his wife dies in a car accident. The tribunal observed that the man may not be dependent on his homemaker wife financially but her household responsibility makes him a worthy candidate for the claim. The 38-year-old woman, who hails from Borivli, died in a road accident in 2010, accoding to Times of India report. On October 31, in a path-breaking verdict, the Supreme Court held that ‘future prospect’ of a person killed in a road accident would be considered while awarding compensation to the dependents and laid down standard criteria for computation of such claims.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was faced with a vexatious question whether dependents of a road accident victim, who was either self- employed or working on a fixed salary in private or unorganised sector, can get enhanced compensation after addition of certain percentage of the salary drawn by the deceased under the head of ‘future prospect’. Accepting the principle of standardisation, it said, “while determining the income, an addition of 50 per cent of actual salary to the income of the deceased towards future prospects, where the deceased had a permanent job and was below the age of 40 years, should be made. The addition should be 30 per cent, if the age of the deceased was between 40 to 50 years. In case the deceased was between the age of 50 to 60 years, the addition should be 15 per cent. Actual salary should be read as actual salary less tax.”
The bench, which also comprised Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, fixed the percentage of salary or income of a self-employed and a person working in private sector which would be computed under the head of ‘future prospect’ for granting compensation to the dependents.
The determination of income while computing compensation has to include future prospects so that the method comes within “the ambit and sweep of just compensation” as postulated under the provision of the Motor Vehicle Act. “We are inclined to think that there can be some degree of difference as regards the percentage that is meant for or applied to in respect of the legal representatives who claim on behalf of the deceased who had a permanent job than a person who is self-employed or on a fixed salary. But not to apply the principle of standardisation on the foundation of perceived lack of certainty would tantamount to remaining oblivious to the marrows of ground reality,” it had said.