Awarding Rs. 51.75 lakh to a married woman for the accidental death of her brother, a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal has held that legal heirs, even if not dependent on the deceased, are eligible for compensation.
The claimant, Divya Alok Srivastav, informed Thane MACT that on May 23, 2007, her 27-year-old brother Abhisek Kumar, who worked with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and earned about Rs. 4 lakh salary per year, had hired a taxi from One Sai Network Agency and proceeded to Shirdi along with her parents to offer prayers.
The next morning they were on way to Pune when car driver Sagar Vilas Lokhande, who was allegedly speeding, lost control over the vehicle which rammed into a tree at roadside.
In the accident, the claimant’s father, mother, brother Abhishek and the taxi driver died on the spot.
Divya alleged that the accident occurred due to the driver’s sole negligence, and that she was eligible for compensation for her brother’s death.
The taxi owner did not contest the claim and the matter was decided ex-parte against her.
However, the insurance firm’s counsel submitted that the applicant was not entitled for compensation under section 166 of Motor Vehicle Act, as she was a married woman and not dependent on her brother.
After hearing both the parties, Thane Additional Sessions Judge and Motor Accident Claims Tribunal member P R Kadam observed that the claimant’s advocate, S V Patkar, submitted that under MV Act section 166, where the death has resulted from the accident, the claim can be preferred by all or any of the legal representative of the deceased.
This provision does not speak about dependents, but about legal representative of the deceased. All or any of the legal representative of the deceased can prefer claim petition before the tribunal, irrespective of he/she or they being dependent or not dependent on the deceased, he noted.
In absence of class-I heirs of the deceased, married daughter/sister is entitled to claim compensation even though she may be staying separately, he observed.
The judge further said that in his view, the married daughter/sister, if she is the only legal heir, is entitled to file claim under MV Act section 166 as the word used in it is ‘legal representative’ and not a ‘dependent’.
Therefore, Judge Kadam recently awarded a compensation of Rs. 51.75 lakh to the Thane woman, including Rs. 51 lakh for loss of dependency (future income), and Rs. 25,000 each for funeral expenses, loss of love and affection of brother and loss of estate.