A Woman’s Work From Home Is Same as That of Office-Going Husband: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday has passed a ruling saying that the value of a woman’s work at home was no less than that of her office-going husband. The Hon’ble Court has therefore enhanced the compensation to relatives of a couple who died in April 2014 in Delhi when a car hit their scooter.

A bench comprising of Justices N V Ramana and Surya Kant has enhanced the compensation from 11.20 lakh to 33.20 lakh which was to be paid to the father of the deceased by the insurance company with 9% annual interest from May 2014. The idea was expanded by Justice Ramana which was first taken up in the case of Lata Wadhwa in 2002 where the supreme court dealing with the issue of compensation for the victims of a fire during a function, had ruled that Compensation should be provided to housewives on the basis of their household services.

Justice Ramana said that as per the 2011 census against 5.79 million men, nearly 159.85 million women mentioned “household work” as their main occupation. The bench also referred to the recent report of the National Statistical Office titled ‘Time Use in India-2019’ which had suggested that on average, women spend approximately 299 minutes per day on unpaid domestic services for household members whereas 97 minutes are spent by men a day. As per the report, as the picture represents, the total day spent by women is 16.7% and 2.6% of their day on unpaid services and unpaid caregiving services for household members respectively, on the other hand, men spend only 1.7% and 0.8% of their day.

The sheer amount of time and effort that is dedicated to household work by individuals, who are more likely to be women than men, is not surprising when one considers the plethora of activities a homemaker undertakes. A homemaker often prepares food for the entire family, manages the house and its surroundings, undertakes decoration repairs and maintenance work, looks after the needs of the children and any aged member of the household, manages budgets and so much more”, he said.

The bench also added,

It signals to society at large that the law and courts of the land believe in the value of the labour, services, and sacrifices of homemakers. It is an acceptance of the idea that these activities contribute in a very real way to the economic condition of the family, and the economy of the nation, regardless of the fact that it may have been traditionally excluded from economic analyses. It is a reflection of changing attitudes and mindsets and of our international law obligations. And, most importantly, it is a step towards the constitutional vision of social equality and ensuring dignity of life to all individuals.”


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