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Single Judge Justice SG Dige of Bombay High Court has delivered a very fundamental judgement that a widow even if she remarries is entitled to claim compensation under Motor Vehicles Act. The honourable Justice gave this decision in the case of Iffco Tokio General Insurance Company v. Bhagyashri Gaikwad. The order of the above-mentioned case was passed on March 3, 2023.

The appellant in the case was the Iffco Tokio General Insurance Company Ltd. and Advocates Mr. Vikrant Purashurami a/w Rama Naik appeared from the side of the Insurance Company. Furthermore, Smt. Bhagyashri Ganesh Gaikwad, Mrs. Sangita Shivaji Gaikwad and Mr. Laxman Ramchandra were from the respondent’s side. All the respondents were represented by Advocate Mr. Uday B. Nighot.

Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal, Pune (MACT) had held that the Iffco Tokio General Insurance Company Ltd. was responsible to pay compensation to the wife of the deceased. This was the decision that the Company was challenging through an appeal before the Bombay High Court. Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act lucidly states that all or any of the legal representatives of a deceased can register an application for compensation.

The facts of the case were that the respondent’s husband whose name was Ganesh was a pillion rider travelling on a motorcycle with Sakharam Gaikwad. A rashly and negligently driven auto rikshaw hit the motorcycle. Due to the accident, Ganesh received grave injuries, especially head injuries, eventually, he could not survive and took his last breath at the hospital in May 2010. The wife at the time of the death of the husband was merely 19 years old. The young widow had filed a plea asking for compensation and while awaiting the same she remarried. 

Hence, the Insurance Company for its safeguard came up with two contentions. The first contention was that as the widow has remarried, she should not be entitled to compensation and another contention was that the auto rikshaw was not under its jurisdiction and had even violated the conditions and terms of the permit, which was according to them applicable only for Thane district and the accident occurred on Mumbai-Pune Road.

On the other hand, the respondent side said there was no evidence to establish that the permit was breached. They also held that a claim for compensation was filed by the wife when she was a widow and had only remarried afterwards.

The Court rejected both the contentions of the appellant and made an incredible statement i.e. “One cannot expect that for getting the compensation of deceased husband, one has to remain a widow for a lifetime or till getting compensation. Considering her age and at the time of the accident, she was the wife of the deceased, this is sufficient ground that she is entitled to compensation. Moreover, after the husband’s death, remarriage cannot be a taboo to get compensation,”. Additionally, honourable Justice held that: “In my view, the company have not examined any witness to prove that taking offending rickshaw outside the jurisdiction of Thane district was a breach of terms of the permit, and it amounts to a breach of terms and conditions of the insurance policy. Hence, I do not see merit in the contention that there was a breach of terms and conditions of the insurance policy.”

The Court considered the view of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Magma General Insurance Co. Ltd v. Nanu Ram, 2018 ACJ 2782 that each claimant is entitled to Rs. 40,000/- as consortium amount. In the present case, there were three claimants, it was decided that they are entitled to Rs. 1,20,000/- as a consortium and Rs. 15,000/- for funeral expenses and Rs. 15,000/- for loss of estate. Total comes to
Rs. 1,50,000/-. The Tribunal had earlier awarded an amount of Rs. 70,000/- for funeral expenses, loss of love and affection and consortium, deducting this amount the Court gave the order that the claimants are entitled to Rs. 80,000/-.

Thus, the honourable court instructed that the claimants are entitled until the realisation of the amount to Rs. 80,000 as an additional amount (@ 7.5% per annum) from October 1, 2017. It also ordered the insurance company to deposit the sum with accrued interest within a period of four weeks. 

Written by Sonakshi Misra, 2nd year (4th semester) B.A.LL.B. Hons. student at Atal Bihari Vajpayee School of Legal Studies, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur.

1 Comment

Sonakshi Misra · April 2, 2023 at 7:15 am

Thank you so much for the opportunity.

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