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The term ‘legal representative’ under Chapter XII of MV Act should not be confined only to mean the spouse, parents and children of the deceased: High Court of Delhi

In an Indian family brothers, sisters and brothers’ children and sometimes foster children live together and they are dependent upon the bread-winner of the family and if the bread-winner is killed on account of a motor vehicle accident, there is no justification to deny them compensation. The Motor Vehicle Act is a benevolent legislation enacted for the object of providing monetary relief to the victims or their families. Therefore, the Motor Vehicle Act calls for a liberal and wider interpretation to serve the real purpose underlying the enactment and fulfil its legislative intent. These were stated by High Court of Delhi consisting, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva in the case of United India Insurance Co. Ltd. vs. Farida Sarosh Poonawala & Ors. [CM APPL. 4119/2022] on 24.01.2022.

The facts of the case are that the Appellant impugns award whereby the detailed accident report was disposed of and compensation was awarded stating that the tribunal erred in awarding compensation to respondent no. 2 and 3 who were children of the wife of the deceased from her first marriage. Notice was accepted, since there was no dispute with regard to the liability of the insurance company vis-à-vis driver and owner of the offending vehicle.

The learned Counsel for appellant contended that the tribunal erred in awarding compensation to respondent no. 2 and 3 who were children of the wife of the deceased from her first marriage as they cannot be treated as dependant family members of the deceased. He further submitted that the tribunal erred in taking the monthly salary of the deceased at Rs. 41,807/- whereas the claim of the wife of the deceased was that the salary only Rs. 35,000/- per month.

The learned Counsel for the respondent submitted that claimants 2 and 3 are children and were living with the deceased, therefore, they should be treated to be dependent upon him. It was further submitted that even though the claimants stated that the deceased was earning about Rs. 35,000/- per month, tribunal has rightly relied upon the documentary evidence that had come on record.

The High Court of Delhi held that having regard to the condition of the Indian society, every legal representative who suffers on account of the death of a person due to a motor vehicle accident should have a remedy for realisation of compensation. In an Indian family brothers, sisters and brothers’ children and sometimes foster children live together and they are dependent upon the bread-winner of the family and if the bread-winner is killed on account of a motor vehicle accident, there is no justification to deny them compensation. The term ‘legal representative’ should be given a wider interpretation for the purpose of Chapter XII of MV Act and it should not be confined only to mean the spouse, parents and children of the deceased. The Motor Vehicle Act is a benevolent legislation enacted for the object of providing monetary relief to the victims or their families. Therefore, the Motor Vehicle Act calls for a liberal and wider interpretation to serve the real purpose underlying the enactment and fulfil its legislative intent. In view of the above, the Court found no infirmity in the impugned award and the appeal was accordingly dismissed.

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Judgment reviewed by Shristi Suman.

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