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Notional Income of Homemakers must be calculated based on the principles of fairness, equality and good conscience: Supreme Court of India

Calculation of Notional Income of Homemakers must be on the basis of their work, labour and sacrifices. The Supreme Court while deciding upon an insurance claim case gave utmost importance to promote gender equality in the country. The bench also observed that, “furtherance of our Nation’s International Law obligations and our Constitutional Vision of Social Equality and ensuring dignity to all.” The Supreme Court presided over by J. N.V. Ramana, J. S.A. Nazeer & J. S. Kant laid down this ratio in the case of Kriti & Anr. Vs. Oriental Insurance Company Limited, [Civil Appeal Nos. 19-20 of 2021].

The Supreme Court was dealing with an Insurance Dispute in this case. In the year 2014 a couple met with an accident and died. The husband was working as a teacher and the wife was a housewife. The couple had three surviving dependents i.e. two minor daughters and father of the deceased. The Court while deciding upon the insurance claim was deciding upon the monthly income of the deceased woman who was a homemaker.

The Supreme Court on this particular issue was of the opinion that, “Any compensation awarded by a Court ought to be just, reasonable and consequently must undoubtedly be guided by principles of fairness, equity, and good conscience.” Further, on the deciding how to determine the notional income of homemakers stated that, “On an average, women spend nearly 299 minutes a day on unpaid domestic services for household members versus 97 minutes spent by men on average. Similarly, in a day, women on average spend 134 minutes on unpaid caregiving services for household members as compared to the 76 minutes spent by men on average. The total time spent on these activities per day makes the picture in India even more clear­ women on average spen 16.9 and 2.6 percent of their day on unpaid domestic services and unpaid caregiving services for household members respectively, while men spent 1.7 and 0.8 percent.”

The Court further elaborating upon Gender Equality & Analysis stated that, “The sheer amount of time and effort that is dedicated to household work by individuals, who are more likely to be women than men, is not surprising when one considers the plethora of activities a housemaker undertakes. A housemaker often prepares food for the entire family, manages the procurement of groceries and other household shopping needs, cleans and manages the house and its surroundings, undertakes decoration, repairs and maintenance work, looks after the needs of the children and any aged member of the household, manages budgets and so much more.”

Lastly the court stated that, “The attempt of the Court in such matters should therefore be towards determining, in the best manner possible, the truest approximation of the value added by a homemaker for the purpose of granting monetary compensation.”

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