Role of housewife least appreciated, says Bombay High Court, directs compensation to family 15 years after death

Stating that “the role of a ‘housewife’ is most challenging and an important role which deserves much appreciation but least appreciated”, the Bomaby High Court has directed an insurance company to pay the family of a labourer more than ₹8 lakh as compensation with 6% interest from 2007.

The case pertains to an incident on March 31, 2005, when the deceased, Baby, was travelling in a jeep. The driver of the jeep was speeding and driving in a negligent manner which resulted in him dashing the vehicle to a tree leading to Baby’s death due to the injuries.

Her husband, Rambhau Gawai, and their two sons, aged 18 and 20, are residents of Tembursonda village, Taluka Chikhaldara, part of Melghat, a tribal area in Vidarbha, filed a plea before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Achalpur in Amravati district claiming a compensation of ₹5 lakh.

On February 3, 2007, the tribunal rejected the claim on the grounds that the actual age of the deceased has been suppressed, the husband is the earning member of the family therefore cannot claim compensation and that the sons were both majors.

Refuting the ground of falsity of age, high court said, “In India by law since 1969 birth registration is made compulsory as per provisions of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act. However till date the percentage of registration is low with 80% of the births. In the said factual backdrop of registration of births, those born in remote areas like the deceased Baby have lesser likelihood of registration of their birth and possessing a birth certificate. Therefore, that there is a practice of mentioning approximate age if any such occasion to mention the age, arises.”

A single judge Bench of Justice Anil Kilor said, “When we talk about a ‘family’, the role of a woman as a ‘housewife’ (also known as ‘homemaker’) in family is the most challenging and important role which role though deserves much appreciation but least appreciated. According to dictionary ‘housewife’ is a woman who does not have job outside the home and who spends her time in cleaning, cooking, looking after her family etc.”

The 23-page judgement said, “In fact emotionally she holds the family together. She is a pillar support for her husband, a guiding light for her child/children and harbour for the family’s elderly. She works round-the-clock without a single day off, no matter whether she is working or not. However, the work she does go unacknowledged and is not considered as a ‘job’. It is an impossible task to count the services she renders which are consisting hundreds of component that go into the functioning of a house hold itself, in monetary terms.”

The court added, “The Tribunal ought to have accepted the case of the appellant that the deceased was earning ₹100 per day and her monthly earning was ₹3,000 in addition to her work as homemaker/housewife.”

Thus court directed the insurance company to pay ₹ 8,22,000 towards compensation with interest at 6% per annum from the date of application (2007) till its realisation.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 12:21:08 AM |

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