An SC bench comprising justices Asok Kumar Ganguly and G. S Singhvi on Friday observed that the Parliament should consider amendments in various laws to ensure that a homemaker’s contribution is scientifically assessed both in accident claims and division of matrimonial property.
The court expressed shock that in the Census, about 36 crore homemakers are placed in the same category as beggars, prostitutes and prisoners.The bench was hearing a petition seeking enhancement of compensation awarded for the death of the appellant’s wife in an accident.In separate but concurrent judgments, justice Ganguly pointed out that the 2001 Census statistics reflected the bias against homemakers, who are non-earning members of the family.”We hope and trust this will be corrected in the ongoing Census,” he said.
Talking about the contribution of homemakers to the society, justice Ganguly referred to a research that had estimated the value of household work performed by women in India at $ 612.8 billion per year.
“Women bring up children, render services and produce goods which are consumed at the household level and not sold in the market,” he said.
The judge pointed out that it was presumed under the Motor Vehicles Act that the income of a non-earning spouse could not be more than one-third of the earning spouse while deciding an accident claim.
“This does not appreciate the value of the services rendered by a victim as a homemaker,” he observed.
According to the judge, India, which had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1993, was bound to make provisions for proper evaluation of household work done by women as homemakers.
He concurred with justice Singhvi that the Rs 2.5 lakh awarded as compensation for the death of Renu Agrawal, 39, the appellant’s wife, in an accident was inadequate.
She had left behind her husband and a minor daughter.
The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and the Allahabad High Court had awarded only Rs 2.5 lakh as compensation after assessing Renu’s income as Rs 1,250 per month.
The tribunal and the court calculated her income on the basis of her husband’s salary, which was Rs 15,416 per month.
The figure was arrived at after deducting her personal expenses.
Justice Singhvi ordered that the compensation be enhanced to Rs 6 lakh and a cost of Rs 50,000 be paid to the appellant.