The Madras High Court on Friday held that excluding married daughters and siblings of those who succumb in motor accidents from claiming compensation for the death would be against the object of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Dismissing an appeal filed by an insurance company challenging the order of a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in Kumbakonam to grant compensation to a married sister of a deceased person, Justices S Manikumar and R Mahadevan said "marriage of a kin could not be a reason to deny compensation".
"That is what various Supreme Court decisions and Motor Vehicles Act-1939 and Workmen's Compensation Act say", the judges said.
The Workmen's Act listed the "dependants" who were entitled to claim compensation under that legislation and it did not confer a statutory right on a married daughter.
However, the 1939 Act stated "all legal representatives of the deceased were entitled to claim compensation", the judges said.
The judges noted that there was a distinction between being dependent on the income of the deceased and receiving a contribution from the deceased, either monetarily or through the services rendered by the deceased to the members of the family, and the same was a decisive factor in computing the compensation.
If the intention of the framers of the Motor Vehicles Act was to restrict the payment of compensation only to the dependants, the word "dependant" as defined in Section 2(d) of the Workmen's Compensation Act would have been incorporated in Motor Vehicles Act also, the Bench said.
Besides the quantum of compensation or loss of contribution was not determined on the basis of monetary loss alone. It was determined on the basis of invaluable and gratuitous services rendered by the mother or the wife as the case may be.
The married daughter may not be totally dependent on the income of the deceased mother for her survival or living, but still, there can be a monetary assistance, during the lifetime of the deceased.
A mother can also continuously render her valuable service to her married daughter, the judges said.
In the case of a daughter, her father, mother or brother can continue to help her monetarily depending upon the need or out of love and affection. Contribution either by means of service or income or both could determine the quantum of compensation, they added.