by Yogiraj Sadaphal
” The Homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only and that is to support the ultimate career.”
– C.S Lewis.
In Indian society, homemakers’ contributions to the growth of their homes but unfortunately they are being underestimated economically. Many in this patriarchal system argue that women “fit” the job of housewife and that it is therefore unnecessary to recognize their contributions. However, times have changed, and several laws and judgments in favor of treating persons of different sexes equally have been passed. However, the contribution provided by different groups of people on both the micro- and macro-economic scales was not recognized.
Surprisingly, it took an entirely different statute to recognize a homemaker’s economic contribution to society. This isn’t the first time a notional income has been calculated, but the accuracy with which the instant conclusion was reached deserves praise.
The Supreme Court of India recently recognized the importance of estimating a homemaker’s notional income for granting compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 in Kirti and Anr. v. Oriental Insurance Company case. When determining compensation, a variety of criteria are considered, including the recipient’s age and income, the number of surviving dependents, future earning possibilities, and so on. Three children were left behind by the deceased couple in this case. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal had given a compensation of Rs 46 lakh, which was challenged in the Delhi High Court, and the amount was reduced by almost 50% and fixed at Rs 22 lakh. The judgement was then appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. The courts have often concluded that the compensation awarded must always be just, fair, and reasonable, and that it must be controlled by equity principles, with the family’s quality of living taken into account.
In a separate concurrent ruling, Justice N V Ramana delivered a well-reasoned decision on the issue of the housewife’s notional income and the computation of future prospects. It is undoubtedly difficult to arrive at a fair pay based on the fictitious income. However, the court is faced with such challenges, particularly in circumstances when the victim is considered non-working. For example, in M R Krishna Murthi v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., the court considered a student’s academic ability, course of study, and family background when determining his or her notional income.
It was previously held in Arun Kumar Agrawal v. National Insurance Co. Ltd that “In India, the courts have recognized that the contribution provided by the woman to the house is precious and cannot be quantified in terms of money, the wife’s selfless services of sincere love and affection to her children and husband, as well as managing the household matters, cannot be compared to those provided by others. It is impossible to place a monetary value on the services provided by the wife/mother to the family. However, some monetary estimate of the services of the housewife/mother must be provided for the purpose of awarding compensation to the dependents.” According to the statistical analysis presented in the current judgement, the majority of women spend the majority of their time doing unpaid home chores, and the verdict also highlights the gender disparity in this regard.
The most important point is the fact that such work is “accepted.” This will lead to a broader shift in people’s mindsets in order to reinforce what social equality really means, which is an important aspect of a civilized society with a legal framework in place .Obviously, the amount of compensation based on fictitious income varies from case to case, and there is no method for calculating it. However, recognizing efforts not just within the household, but also on a broader level of contribution to GDP, is a step in the right direction.