Wednesday 22 May 2024

Whether mother in law of deceased is entitled to get compensation under motor accident claim petition?

 In the instant case, the question for consideration is whether the fourth Appellant would fall under the expression 'legal representative' for the purpose of claiming compensation. In Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation, Ahmedabad v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai and Anr.   MANU/SC/0469/1987 : (1987) 3 SCC 234 this Court while considering the entitlement of the brother of a deceased who died in a motor vehicle accident to maintain a claim petition under the provisions of the MV Act, held as under:


13. We feel that the view taken by the Gujarat High Court is in consonance with the principles of justice, equity and good conscience having regard to the conditions of the Indian society. Every legal representative who suffers on account of the death of a person due to a motor vehicle accident should have a remedy for realisation of compensation and that is provided by Sections 110-A to 110-F of the Act. These provisions are in consonance with the principles of law of torts that every injury must have a remedy. It is for the Motor Vehicles Accidents Tribunal to determine the compensation which appears to it to be just as provided in Section 110-B of the Act and to specify the person or persons to whom compensation shall be paid. The determination of the compensation payable and its apportionment as required by Section 110-B of the Act amongst the legal representatives for whose benefit an application may be filed Under Section 110-A of the Act have to be done in accordance with well-known principles of law. 

19. In Hafizun Begum (Mrs) v. Mohd. Ikram Heque and Ors.   MANU/SC/3045/2007 : (2007) 10 SCC 715 it was held that:

7. ...12. As observed by this Court in Custodian of Branches of Banco National Ultramarino v. Nalini Bai Naique   MANU/SC/0149/1989 : 1989 Supp (2) SCC 275 the definition contained in Section 2(11) Code of Civil Procedure is inclusive in character and its scope is wide, it is not confined to legal heirs only. Instead, it stipulates that a person who may or may not be legal heir, competent to inherit the property of the deceased, can represent the estate of the deceased person. It includes heirs as well as persons who represent the estate even without title either as executors or administrators in possession of the estate of the deceased. All such persons would be covered by the expression 'legal representative'. As observed in Gujarat SRTC v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai   MANU/SC/0469/1987 : (1987) 3 SCC 234 a legal representative is one who suffers on account of death of a person due to a motor vehicle accident and need not necessarily be a wife, husband, parent and child.

17. Tribunal relied not only upon judgments of American and English Courts but also upon Indian judgments for coming to the conclusion that even a religious order or an organisation may suffer considerable loss due to the death of a voluntary worker. The Tribunal also went on to decide who should be entitled for compensation as legal representative of the deceased and for that purpose it relied upon the Full Bench judgment of Patna High Court in Sudama Devi v. Jogendra Choudhary   MANU/BH/0024/1987 : AIR 1987 Pat 239, which held that the term "legal representative" is wide enough to include even "intermeddlers" with the estate of a deceased. The Tribunal also referred to some Indian judgments in which it was held that successors to the trusteeship and trust property are legal representatives within the meaning of Section 2(11) of the Code of Civil Procedure.


21. Coming to the facts of the present case, the fourth Appellant was the mother-in-law of the deceased. Materials on record clearly establish that she was residing with the deceased and his family members. She was dependent on him for her shelter and maintenance. It is not uncommon in Indian Society for the mother-in-law to live with her daughter and son-in-law during her old age and be dependent upon her son-in-law for her maintenance. Appellant No. 4 herein may not be a legal heir of the deceased, but she certainly suffered on account of his death. Therefore, we have no hesitation to hold that she is a "legal representative" Under Section 166 of the MV Act and is entitled to maintain a claim petition.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Civil Appeal No. 6451 of 2021.

Decided On: 25.10.2021

N. Jayasree and Ors. Vs. Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:

S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari, JJ.

Author: S. Abdul Nazeer, J.

Citation: MANU/SC/0966/2021 : AIR 2021 SC 5218,2021 SCC OnLine SC 967.

Read full Judgment here: Click here.

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