Tamil Nadu accident tribunal
But, slamming the tribunal for its narrow-mindedness and saying such a view cannot be tolerated, Madras high court has enhanced the compensation to Rs 6.76 lakh. Justice S Vimala, pointing out that the victim’s five year old daughter must be missing her mother’s lap, observed: “The primary responsibility of the home-maker is to ensure that the family is happy, healthy and prosperous. To make the home as heart of the family giving total relaxation and complete freedom and joy to members of the family, is the critical role willingly undertaken and delightfully discharged. As it is voluntary, it is quite often neglected, forgotten and devalued.”
Selvi, 31, earning Rs 5,000 per month by selling clothes, died in an accident on April 23, 2004. Her husband, daughter aged 5 years at that time, and mother moved the tribunal for compensation. Disbelieving the claim of independent income for Selvi as it was not supported by any documents, the tribunal concluded that her ‘notional income’ as a homemaker was Rs 15,000 annually.
Justice Vimala, noting that a house wife’s services, described as gratuitous service, has not been considered by the tribunal, said: “When the child was aged 5 years, it lost the lap of the mother, which nobody can afford. The guidance and support needed from the mother, especially for a girl child, need not be emphasized. The tribunal, unmindful of the consequences of the death, has quantified the compensation in a way which nobody can tolerate.”
Relying on Supreme Court rulings on the issue, Justice Vimala then considered Rs 36,000 as annual ‘notional income’ of the woman, and arrived at a compensation figure of Rs 6.76 lakh and directed the authorities to deposit the sum within three weeks. The judge also rued that though the government was expected to be a model litigant, it had not even paid the meagre compensation awarded by the tribunal.