Kerala High Court disregards KSRTC’s stand that housewife not entitled to compensation

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday came down upon the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) as they held that monetary compensation awarded to a housewife who was injured due to a reckless action of the bus driver, cannot be measured on the same scales as it would have been if she was a working woman. [Kalukutty v PM John and Anr.]

Facts of the Case

The appeal was put forth by a 61 years old lady who was traveling in a bus owned by KSRTC on 24th August 2006 when on the rash application of the brake by the bus driver she was thrown out of her seat and suffered several injuries. She had undergone extensive treatment, was bedridden, and faced extreme trauma for quite some time. As a result, she approached the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (MACT) at Irinjalkuda seeking a compensation of Rs. 2,00,000/- (Rupees Two Lakhs Only) however she was awarded Rs.40,214/- (Rupees Forty Thousand Two Hundred and Fourteen Only) by the MACT. As she was displeased by the said amount, she prayed for the impugned award by MACT to be set aside and the amount sought by her to be granted as her life was severely impaired due to the incident.

Respondents Side

The Learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the Respondents (KSRTC) was Mr. Alex Antony Sebastian. He stated that the order for compensation granted was irreproachable because the Appellant was a housewife without any income. Nothing more should be granted by the MACT as that would be excess to her. Hence, the appeal should be dismissed.

Observation by the Court

The Court was remorseful by the contentions of the KSRTC, that a housewife earns no income and therefore is not eligible for the compensation. The Court stated that it is beyond comparison the role played by a mother and wife. The amount of time she invests in her family ensures that the next generation is fostered with excellence, such efforts cannot be brushed aside as being without monetary value.

The excerpts from the judgment read out as:

“The lives of human beings are never tested on the scales of their monetary worth, but by their contribution and selflessness. In such perspective, the monetary compensation for an injury caused to a housewife will have to be measured and weighed on the same scales, as it would been, had she been a working woman – if not more.”

The Court had placed its reliance on a decision by the Apex Court in Ramachandrappa v Manager, Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Ltd, wherein it was held that for a person whose income is unascertainable, the standard to be reckoned would be Rs. 5,500/- (Rupees Five Thousand Five Hundred Only) per month.

The Court had observed that the wound certificate submitted by the Appellant indicates that she had suffered from a spinal fracture and due to it getting compressed she faced difficulty in breathing and was in constant pain. This resulted in the loss of movement by more than 50%, with back pain and stiffness which further lead to a limitation of spine movement by 25%. Despite this the MACT refused to accept the above for the mere reason that the examining doctor did not prove it.

Justice Devan Ramachandran adopted the ratio given in Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation for the calculation of compensation. The Appellant was entitled to Rs. 1,64,654/- (Rupees One Lakh Sixty-Four Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty-Four Only) instead of what the MACT had awarded. She would recover this amount from the KSRTC along with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum till the realization of the enhanced amount.

Source: LiveLaw and Bar and Bench

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