Supreme Court Elevates Homemakers’ Status, Equates Household Contributions with Paid Work

In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court of India has underscored the equal importance of homemakers’ contributions to those of salary-earning family members, highlighting the invaluable role women play within the household. Justices Suryan Kant and KV Viswanathan, presiding over the case, voiced a powerful message on the intrinsic value of homemakers, asserting that their work transcends simple financial evaluation.

This landmark ruling emerged from a case concerning the untimely demise of a homemaker from Uttarakhand in a 2006 road mishap. With the involved vehicle uninsured, the onus of compensation fell upon the vehicle’s owner. Initially, the family was granted a sum of ₹2.5 lakh by a motor accident claims tribunal. This decision was upheld by the Uttarakhand High Court in 2017, which calculated the compensation based on the deceased’s role as a homemaker, assigning her a minimal hypothetical income.

The Supreme Court, however, took a different stance, criticizing the undervaluation of homemakers’ contributions by the High Court and the tribunal. The justices emphatically rejected the notion that a homemaker’s income could be considered lesser than that of a daily wage earner. Highlighting the multifaceted and substantial contributions of homemakers, the Supreme Court order stated, “The role of a homemaker is as important as that of a family member whose income is tangible. Their contribution is of a high order and invaluable.”

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Addressing the errors in the High Court’s judgment and the need for a more equitable assessment of homemakers’ work, the Supreme Court increased the compensation to ₹6 lakh. This adjustment reflects a broader acknowledgment of the vital work done within households and the necessity for gender equality and fairness within the legal framework.

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