Supreme Court while hearing a MACT matter observed that the conception that housewives do not work or do not add value to the household is problematic and needs to be overcome. The bench raised the compensation from Rs 22 lakh to Rs 33.2 lakh.
On Tuesday, the apex court was hearing a matter related to the grant of compensation in a motor accident case in which the Delhi High Court had reduced the compensation of the deceased wife as she was a homemaker.
A three-judge bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice S Abdul Nazeer, and Justice Surya Kant observed that fixing an economic value to the hard work labour by homemakers is difficult but nevertheless significant.
Justice Ramana in a concurring but separate order cited the 2011 census and found that 159.85 million women in India are engaged in household work in comparison to 5.79 million men.
As per a recent report published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, on an average, women spend 299 minutes a day on unpaid domestic services for household members versus 97 minutes spent by men.
“She prepares food, manages procurement of groceries and shopping needs, cleans and manages the house and surroundings, undertakes decoration, repairs and maintenance work and tends to children and aged members of the household,” the bench stated.
Justice Ramana further said, “Despite all of the above, the conception that housemakers do not work or that they do not add economic value to the household is a problematic idea that has persisted for many years and must be overcome.”
The bench headed by Justice Ramana stated that a homemaker’s notional income must be determined by Courts keeping in mind the number of women engaged in this activity, and the value of their labour, service, and sacrifices.
“Their activities contribute in a real way to the economic condition of the family and the economy of the nation and ought to be recognized in reflection of our changing attitudes and mindsets as well as towards achieving the constitutional vision of social equality and dignity of all individuals,” Justice Ramana said.
The appeal was moved by the two daughters of the couple who died in an accident in April 2014. The Motor Accident Claim Tribunal had awarded Rs 40.7 lakh but following a complaint from an insurance company, Delhi High Court reduced it to Rs 22 lakh.