1. The claim here is by the husband and children of Smt. Shanti Devi, deceased, who was killed in an accident with a tractor on Sept. 11, 1976. This happened at Hansi. It is said that the decades was run over and killed by a tractor coming from the opposite direction, which came on to the wrong side of the road and knocked her down. It was the finding of the Tribunal that this accident had been caused by the rash and negligent driving of the driver of the tractor. A sum of Rs. 6000/- was awarded as compensation to the claimants. Enhancement of compensation is the claim in appeal.
2. The pecuniary loss that a husband and children usually suffer in such a case comprises the loss of services that the deceased provided to them gratuitously. The measure of this loss being the cost of replacing these services.
3. In dealing with the matter relating to the claim for compensation arising from the death of the wife the Division Bench of the High Court of Gujarat in Khodabhai Bhagwanbhai v. Hirji Tapu, 1980 ACJ 237: (AIR 1980 Guj 25), referred to Kemp and Kemp on Quantum of Damages, Volume I where the various heads of pecuniary loss which could arise for the husband on the death of his wife were catalogued. These being:-
(1) Loss of wife's contributions to the household from her own earnings.
(2) Expenses of employing a housekeeper or servant to perform services which the wife had rendered gratuitously.
(3) Expenses of providing boarding and lodging for such housekeeper or servant.
(4) Additional expenses caused by having the household run by housekeeper or servant instead of the wife.
(5) Expense of furnishing the room and providing requisite amenities for the housekeeper or servant.
(6) Expenses of sending children away to boarding school.
(7) Expense of buying children's clothes instead of having them made by wife.
(8) Expenses of having his own clothes, etc. mended instead of having them cared for and mended by wife.
(9) Having to eat meals out instead of having them cooked by the wife.
(10) Loss of element of security where husband's employment was insecure, or his health bad, and where wife had been accustomed to go out to work to keep the home going when the husband was not working.
The Court went on to observe, 'thus all these facts have got to be kept in view while determining the damages on account of the untimely death of the wife and then the economic loss is to be ascertained for those who are left behind. Under the circumstances, it is not as if that the accidental death of a non-earning wife means nothing to her dependants and other family members and the economic loss to them would be practically nil as assumed by the Tribunal in the present case. If the deceased wife was earning then her earning would certainly be considered for computing the net economic loss to her family members. But, even if she was not earning, the gratuitous services rendered by her would now be required to be substituted by other modes which will have their own economic importance and value and that the pecuniary benefit from these services in the domestic front as well as in the agricultural operation of the husband when the wife may have acted as a helpful hand as in the present case will have to be assessed on the totality of all circumstances and a proper figure of multiplicant has to be arrived at, and having considered the relative ages of the wife and the husband and the dependants a proper multiplier has to be adopted'.
4. There is no retirement age for a house wife. She works in the house for as long as she is physically capable of doing so. Old ladies working in the house are a common feature in our society. It is to be assumed, therefore, that the decades would have continued to provide services to her husband and children up to an age even extending beyond attaining the age of 65 years as it has come on record, that she was 53-54 years of age at the time of her death and was in good health. She left behind her husband, three minor daughters and a minor son besides other children. The services she would have provided to the family were clearly such as would have been required by them for many more years. In this context it would be relevant to advert to the evidence of the husband Bhagwan Dass Bhatia that he has now had to employ two servants at a salary of Rs. 150/- per month besides providing them free board and loading. In the circumstances, the cost of alternative domestic help and for other incidental matters like tailoring children's clothes and other odd jobs that the deceased was doing in the house, could not be less than Rs. 2500/- per annum. An Award of Rs. 30,000/- would not, therefore, be unreasonable or excessive, considering also the ever increasing cost of such services.
5. The compensation awarded to the claimants is accordingly enhanced to Rs. 30,000/- which they shall be entitled to along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum form the date of the application to the date of the payment of the amount awarded. Out of this amount, a sum of Rs. 3,000/- each shall be paid to the minor claimants and the balance to the husband of the deceased. As the truck was not insured at the time of the accident, the liability for the amount awarded shall be that of respondents 1 to 3.
6. The appeal is hereby consequently accepted with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 300/-.
7. Appeal accepted.