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Supreme Court asks insurance firm whether it has a conscience

Representational image

Representational image

The Supreme Court has conveyed its anguish at the legal odyssey of a farmer and his wife, who had to battle a “high and mighty” State-owned insurance company for years together to get a ₹2-lakh compensation for their son, a young labourer killed by a truck.

“Deeply disturbed” by the trauma the old couple had to undergo, a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud wondered where the insurance company possessed a “social conscience” at all.

The court also expressed its distress at a system which left a hapless farmer “to the mercy of the legal procedure”, like a kite in a hurricane.

“When will a high and mighty state-owned insurance company realise its social conscience? Our conscience has been deeply disturbed by the manner in which a farmer and his spouse have been left to the mercies of legal procedure. Should the insurer have dragged the parents to the High Court over the award of ₹2.64 lakh for the death of their wage earning son?” Justice Chandrachud wrote in the recent judgment for the Bench.

The court said it was a time for a “fundamental rethink”.

“Families of the victims of motor accidents cannot realise rights under law so long as litigation continues to be a stratagem and source of harassment and torture,” Justice Chandrachud noted.

The young man died in October 2004 when the truck from which he was helping unload goods lost control and dashed him into a tree.

He was at the time receiving a monthly salary of ₹2,400. The accident compensation was calculated at ₹2,64,895.

However, The New India Assurance Company Limited moved the Orissa High Court, which concluded that there was “no material to establish the wages paid”.

The couple had then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Justice Chandrachud said the dead man was an informal worker. Such employees are not provided receipts on the payment of wages.

The apex court said there was no reason for the High Court to have differed.

“A poor farming family is lost in a long drawn out battle to secure a paltry compensation of ₹2,64,895 awarded by the Commissioner of Labour for the death of their son for an accident which took place in 2004,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

The court also held that the couple were entitled to ₹1 lakh towards their litigation costs and expenses.


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Printable version | May 23, 2022 8:14:31 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-asks-insurance-firm-if-it-has-social-conscience-at-all/article38015130.ece