Madras High Court Ends Mother's 24-Year Struggle For Compensation For Son's Death

Negating the objection of an insurance company, the Madras High Court confirmed the compensation of Rs 3,47,000 with interest passed by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal or MACT.

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Madras High Court Ends Mother's 24-Year Struggle For Compensation For Son's Death

A Madras High Court judge apologised to victim's mother for making her wait so long. (File)

Chennai:  The Madras High Court has come to the rescue of a mother who has been fighting for nearly 25 years to get compensation for the death of her son, a truck driver, in a road mishap. Lokeswaran died on May 18, 1993 following a head-on collision with a bus. His mother first moved the competent authority (Commissioner) under the Workmen's Compensation Act for compensation, but lost the claim.

Negating the objection of an insurance company, Justice N Seshasayee of the Madras High Court confirmed the compensation of Rs 3,47,000 with interest passed by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal or MACT.

Since the autopsy report did not mention the victim's name, the bonafides of the claim was suspected and the matter was decided against the claimant by the Commissioner.

When the mother moved MACT, the insurance firm objected, saying the claimant should not move the motor accident tribunal and may only prefer an appeal under the WC Act. MACT, however, held that the claimant would be entitled to compensation and awarded Rs 3.47 lakh with interest at 7.5 per cent to the woman.

The insurance firm appealed against it, contending that the claimant had already elected to move one of the forums seeking compensation. It is impermissible for her to make a claim twice over and hence the petition was not maintainable in law as per the doctrine of election, it contended.

The judge said that in respect of a tribunal under the WC Act, it implies a decision on quantification of a claim by computing the value of loss of life and in the present case it was not done.

"Sorry, we have kept you waiting this long to secure your right," he told the victim's mother.

The judge noted that the Workmen's Compensation Tribunal had not even felt it their duty to compute the value of loss of a life.

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The judge further said the tribunal also had not analysed if the mother of the victim can be blamed for the fault of the doctor who did the autopsy and deny her compensation.

As regards the doctrine of election cited by the insurance firm to object to the claim of the victim's mother, the judge noted that it would operate only when the forum of first choice had conclusively quantified the compensation payable and it was not applicable to the present case. 

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