The Kerala High Court has upheld that dependency has no relevance in an application filed under Section 163 A of Motor Vehicles Act through THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE C.S.DIAS in the case of United India Insurance v. Shalumol (MACA No. 1768 of 2021)
FACTS OF THE CASE:
Sreedevi was struck by a vehicle on her way to work on June 9, 2018. Shalumol and Malumol, as well as their maternal grandparents, filed an appeal with the Tribunal under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, seeking compensation from the insured and the insurer of the vehicle. They claimed in the claim petition that the accident occurred owing to the negligence of the driver/owner (the first respondent before the Tribunal) of a goods vehicle. The appellant insured the automobile. Sreedevi was 49 years old when she died. She worked as an anganwadi worker and received a monthly stipend of Rs.18,000/-. She was the household breadwinner.
The respondents were completely reliant on her. Sreedevi’s love, devotion, happiness, consortium, and financial benefits were taken away from the responders. As a result, they sought compensation from the appellant for Rs.20,00,000/-. The driver opposed the claim petition before the Tribunal. The appellant accepted that the vehicle was insured but questioned Sreedevi’s age, salary, and occupation. The appellant also claimed that the accident was caused by Sreedevi’s negligence and that the respondents were not the legal representatives and dependents.
The Tribunal granted the claim petition, finding that the respondents were Sreedevi’s legal representatives and dependents and allowing the respondents to recover Rs.17,32,680/- with interest and expenses from the appellant. The insurer was appealing the impugned award because he was dissatisfied with it. The driver cum owner was not been named as a party to the appeal by the appellant.
On behalf of the appellants, it was held that the proceeding before the Motor Vehicle Claims Tribunal is a summary proceeding and that unless there is evidence in support of such pleading the claimant is not a legal representative, the claim petition be dismissed as not maintainable, no such plea can be raised at a later stage, including through a writ petition.
Furthermore, in an Indian family, brothers, sisters, and brothers’ children, as well as foster children, live together and are dependent on the breadwinner of the family; if the breadwinner is killed in a motor vehicle accident, there is no justification to deny them compensation under the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, which, as we have already stated, has been substantially modified by the provisions contained in the Act.
It was determined that the dependency has no bearing on a claim under Section 163 A because the persons authorized to bring an application for compensation for the death of the dead are the legal heirs, not the legal representatives. The Court held that even if there is no loss of dependency, the claimant, if a legal representative, is entitled to compensation, which must be less than the liability arising from Section 140 of the Act.
The Court observed, “The legal representatives of the deceased could move application for compensation by virtue of clause (c) of Section 166 (1). The major married son who is also earning and not fully dependent on the deceased would be still covered by the expression “legal representative” of the deceased.”
It was held that it would be preposterous to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that a 25-year-old daughter would be no longer dependent on her 49-year-old mother because she was given in marriage. The bond between a mother and a daughter is eternal. It was therefore established that the legal representatives of the deceased have the right to seek compensation. Having said that, it must necessarily follow that the deceased’s major, married and earning sons, as legal representatives, have a right to apply for compensation. It would be the Tribunal’s duty to consider the application regardless of whether the concerned legal representative was entirely dependent on the deceased and not to limit the claim to conventional heads only.
Thus, the appeal was dismissed by confirming the impugned award.
PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into the category of Best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, and best civil lawyer.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY REETI SHETTY