Madurai: A court in Tamil Nadu has allowed a Catholic women religious congregation to claim compensation for the death a nun who died in a road accident.
Justice A M Basheer Ahamed of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court recently dismissed an appeal from the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation that contested the order of compensation that the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal passed in 2009.
The case revolves around the death of Sister Alangara Mary, a member of Auxilium congregation, on March 1, 2002. She was riding a two-wheeler scooter with Sister Roseline Joseph as pillion rider in Trichy, a major town in Tamil Nadu.
A speeding bus of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation knocked them down on Trichy-Dindigul road. Sister Alangara died on the way to the hospital while her companion nun survived with severe injuries.
The congregation approached the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal for the death of Sister Alangara while Sister Roseline moved a separate plea for compensation for her injuries.
The tribunal awarded the compensation of 322,000 rupees with 7.5 percent annual interest to be paid by the corporation to deceased nun’s congregation.
The transport corporation disputed the right of the congregation to claim compensation as the legal representative or dependent of the deceased nun. According to the tribunal, the relation between the deceased nun and her religious order was that of employee and employer and that the employer cannot be her legal heir to claim the compensation.
Dismissing the appeal, the high court noted that Sister Alangara had renounced her family to work as a member of the religious congregation, a service organization.
The congregation relied on an earlier case over a member of the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel who died in a road accident. The insurance firm had disputed the congregation’s right to claim compensation. The High Court had then ruled that the religious congregation suffered considerable loss due to the death of a voluntary worker and that the law does not define the term legal representative.
In the nun’s case Justice Ahmed held that there was no evidence to show that she had any other legal representative on the date of the accident.
The court upheld the amount of compensation awarded by the tribunal, dismissing the corporation’s plea that it was excessive.