J&K&L High Court: Compensation Available for Major, Married, and Earning Legal Heirs of Deceased in Motor Accident Cases

LI Network

Published on: December 17, 2023 at 11:21 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently affirmed that even if they are major, married, and financially independent, the legal heirs of a deceased individual are entitled to claim compensation in motor accident cases.

The court emphasized that the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal is obligated to consider their claims, regardless of their dependence on the deceased.

Justice M.A. Chowdhary of the Srinagar Bench delivered the verdict, citing precedents such as National Insurance Company Limited v. Birender & Ors. and Shriram General Insurance Company Limited v. Asha Devi & Ors.

The court disagreed with the view that only dependents are eligible for compensation, stressing that legal heirs, irrespective of age or income, have a rightful claim to compensation.

The case involved a petitioner who was a workman at a bank, suspended in 1982 for disorderly behavior. Despite being deemed to have voluntarily retired in 1984 due to non-compliance with a transfer order, the petitioner, along with siblings, filed a claim petition for compensation following a road accident that resulted in the death of the father and son from the same family.

The court noted that the Tribunal had erred in denying compensation to the siblings based on their age and employment status. It emphasized that the workman’s enrollment as an advocate and handling of cases for the bank’s employees did not negate their entitlement to compensation as legal heirs.

While acknowledging that the wife of the deceased was entitled to 50% of the compensation, the court rejected the appellants’ argument for a different apportionment based on personal law. It clarified that apportionment should be determined by loss of dependency, in line with Section 168 of the Motor Vehicles Act, disregarding personal law for inheritance.

The court further addressed the remarriage of the deceased’s wife, stating that it should not impede just compensation. It emphasized that if any claimant dies before receiving their awarded compensation share, it should be released according to the applicable law of inheritance among their legal heirs.

The decision highlights the court’s commitment to ensuring fair compensation for legal heirs, recognizing the diverse circumstances surrounding motor accident cases.

Case Details: Zarifa Banoo v. Manzoor Ahmad Sheergujri

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