In a recent case, Hon’ble Justice NV Ramana of the Supreme Court observed that the conception that house makers don’t work and that they don’t contribute economic value to the house is a problematic idea that has persisted for far too long and must be stopped. The Court made the observation described above in an appeal of a motor accident claim.
The claimants were legal heirs of a deceased couple who died in a road accident. In this case, one of the deceased was a house maker.
The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal awarded a total of 40 lakhs to both the claimants.
Claimants in the case moved the Supreme Court, where one of the judges penned a separate opinion and noted that there are two separate categories of situations where the Court decides the deceased individual’s notional income.
The first category is when the deceased was employed. In this case, based on evidence, the Court will guess the person’s income based on the quality of life led, education, a family earning, etc.
The second category consists of non-earning victims like students, homemakers or minors. According to the 2011 census, the Hon’ble Judge had referred to,59.85 million women said that household work was their primary occupation. In this regard, the Hon’ble Judge made the following observation.
The Court observed that a house-maker undertakes several duties like making food, cleaning, repairing and decorating the house. They also look after the needs of the children and take care of older household members, and in rural areas, women help in harvesting and sowing.
Therefore, fixing notional income for a homemaker serves an essential function; it recognises millions of women who were as a homemaker either due to cultural norms or due to their own choice. It signals that the courts and the country’s law value the labour, sacrifice and services the homemakers put in, observed the judge.
Hon’ble Court further observed that:-
- Grant of compensation on the pecuniary basis to a homemaker, is a settled proposition of law.
- Courts can use various methods to fix the notional income of a homemaker, depending on the circumstances and facts of each case.
- Courts should not assess compensation too liberally or too conservatively.
- While granting future prospects of notional income is also a component of just compensation.
Title: Kirti vs Oriental Insurance Company Ltd
Case No.: CIVIL APPEAL NOS.1920 of 2021
Coram: Hon’ble Justice NV Ramana and Hon’ble Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Hon’ble Justice Surya Kant