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Report No. 111

Chapter XII

Succession Certificate

12.1. A Kerala case.-

It is desirable to discuss at this stage the position regarding succession certificate. In a Kerala case reported recently, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation contested the claim for compensation, of a widow whose husband had been killed in an accident caused by the negligence of the driver of a bus belonging to the Corporation. The Corporation insisted that the widow should produce a succession certificate, before payment of the compensation could be made to her. Aggrieved by this refusal, the widow moved the High Court of Kerala by a letter which was treated as a petition. In this judgment, the High Court pointed out that the widow was not claiming as a successor to her husband's estate, but was claiming on her own account and a succession certificate was not needed in the case. Elaborating the point, the High Court made the following observations1:-

"The assumption that a succession certificate is necessary for payment of compensation to the dependents of a person who dies on account of accident is evidently not correct. In two decisions of this Court in State Insurance Officer v. Thankamma, (1980) Ker LT 562, the scheme of the Indian Fatal Accidents Act has been adverted to. Evidently, that enactment is brought into existence to enable dependants of a person whose death has been caused by wrongful act, neglect or default to claim compensation. But for that Act, there would be no case for the heirs of a deceased to claim compensation on account of death caused by wrongful act. It is to meet this situation that the Fatal Accidents namely, the wife, husband, parent and child of the person whose death has been caused, to claim loss resulting to them from such death."

1. Kochupannu Lakshmi v. Chairman, K.S.R.T. Corpn., AIR 1984 Ker 97 (99), para. 5 (June).

The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 Back

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