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Report No. 111

7.3. Prospects of re-marriage of widow.-

Where, however, the widow has not yet re-married and the question to be considered is as to the effect of the prospect of her re-marriage, the question is not easy of solution. For any court, it is difficult to assess satisfactorily whether, and if so, when and with whom, the widow has a "prospect" of re-marriage. A case from Karnataka illustrates the very delicate task which the court must perform, when the court comes to be faced with the question of assessing the prospect of re-marriage of a widow.1 The claimant in that case was a Muslim widow. When she was cross-examined before the Claims Tribunal constituted under the Motor Vehicles Act, her age was 21 years and she clearly denied that she had any intention of re-marrying.

Notwithstanding her denial, the Claims Tribunal, after considering what (in its opinion) were "real and imminent" prospects of her re-marriage, quantified the compensation to be awarded to her on the basis of only five years' purchase value. On appeal, the High Court held this to be a wrong approach. The High Court stated that it was true that in the case of Muslim claimants, their personal law treats marriage as a civil contract and the re-marriage of a widow does not attract any social ostracism. Even so, according to the High Court, a higher standard of re-assurance as to the reality of the prospects of such re-marriage and of its beneficial economic repercussions on the dependant widow was necessary, before her prospects of re-marriage could be taken into account in fixing the amount of compensation. That was lacking in this case, according to the High Court.

1. Rajabi v. Oriental Fire & General Insurance Co. Ltd., Coimbatore, AIR 1981 Karn 70.

The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 Back

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