On 20 December, the Bombay High Court held that a widow is entitled to the compensation, even if she remarried within a year of her husband’s death in a road accident.
The bench headed by Justice RD Dhanuka upheld the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) order and directed the New India Assurance to pay Rs 29,51,000, which includes an enhanced rate of interest, to the woman who remarried within a year of losing her husband in a road accident.
On 21 February 2007, Mahendra Sonawane, the husband of the Respondent (Sushma) was on his way to Nashik, along with his mother when a truck coming from the opposite directed collided with the car in which Sonawane was traveling. Both, the mother and son died on spot. Following the above incident, the widowed wife approached the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal stating that her deceased husband was earning around Rs 1.5 lakh as the director of a firm.
The Tribunal ruled in her favor and granted her the compensation amount to be paid by the New India Assurance. However, the assurance company filed an appeal in this regard stating that Sonawane’s widow, Sushma was not dependent on her husband at the time of filing the claim and held that she is not entitled to compensation. Thus, Sushma approached the High court for the enhancement of compensation.
Rejecting that insurance company’s contention, the High Court held that the status of the wife as a dependent has to be considered on the “date of death of Sonawane and not on the date of applying for compensation.” The court further stated that such a widow continues to “represent the estate” of her husband & is thus entitled to make claims for compensation “irrespective of the change in her marital status”.
On the claim of the insurance company that the driver should have been examined stating negligence on part of Sonawane (the driver), the court held that it was the insurance company’s job to examine the driver.