The Calcutta High Court Wednesday held that the earnings of a housewife cannot be calculated in the same manner as that of a normal person since a housewife not only does household chores but also takes care of the family [Pratima Sahoo vs Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Co. Ltd].
Single-judge Justice Ajay Kumar Gupta, therefore, enhanced the compensation to be paid to one Pratima Sahoo (appellant), a housewife who had suffered severe injuries in an accident that took place in October 2013.
The bench noted that the appellant Sahoo had informed the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal (MACT) that she earned ₹4,000 as an income. But the Tribunal considered ₹3,000 as her 'notional' income.
However, the bench said that a housewife is not expected to prove her income.
"It is unexpected from a housewife to prove her actual income by producing document or salary certificate. A housewife’s job requires more contribution than a normal job or service of earning person. She maintains her husband, children, parents and other family members for entire day by way of caring them, cleaning, cooking food and many others as a result her income cannot be equated with earnings of a normal person. Her income cannot be calculated in the form of monthly salary or wages," the bench held.
The bench was seized of an appeal filed by the appellant challenging the February 20, 2020 judgment of the MACT in Tamluk, Purba Medinipur. By way of the said judgment, the MACT had ordered the insurance company to pay a compensation of ₹ 2,09,746 to the appellant.
As per the facts of the case, the appellant had sustained severe injuries after she was hit a motor van. She suffered 50 percent disablement and said she was unable to move freely from one place to another and her walking capacity also got restricted. She claimed that she lost her future earning capacity and also suffered mental pain and agony.
The bench noted that the MACT had awarded only ₹5,000 for the mental pain and agony that the appellant suffered. It opined that the same was way too low an amount under the said category.
"Appellant being a housewife must suffer her pain, agony and suffering. Therefore, compensation amount must be more than ₹ 5000. The Tribunal ought to have awarded more compensation amount under the head of mental pain, agony and suffering because she had been extensively treated in several hospitals," the bench said.
Further, the bench observed that there is no straight jacket formula to consider amount under heading pain and suffering and therefore, ordered the respondents to pay ₹ 50,000 under the said category.
Therefore, the bench ordered the insurance company to pay an additional compensation amount of ₹ 2,14,000 to the appellant apart from the amount ordered by the MACT.
Advocate Subhankar Mandal appeared for the Appellant.
Advocate S Ganguli represented the Insurance Company.