While hearing a plea filed by the daughter of the second wife of a railway policeman, who succumbed to Covid-19 in May, seeking proportionate distribution of compensation amount among the two wives and daughters of the deceased, the Bombay High Court on Friday directed that the first wife, her daughter and the daughter of the second wife would each get one-third share of the Rs 60-lakh compensation provided by the Railways and the Maharashtra government.
A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Madhav Jamdar, while hearing the plea, explained to the three women, who were present in court, their entitlement to the property of the deceased. The second wife, however, would not be entitled to a share, the HC had indicated while referring to the law and past judgments during a hearing on August 25.
On Friday, the parties involved agreed to share the amount deposited in the court by the Railways Ministry and the Maharashtra government with one-third share each to go to the first wife, her daughter and the man’s daughter from the second marriage.
The bench directed its registry to distribute the entire amount deposited with it among the three women. Moreover, it said that as lawyers and the court were of the view that the parties should not waste their time and money in litigation, they should arrive at an amicable settlement with respect to all other movable and immovable assets of the deceased.
Granting a weeks’ time to the parties to arrive at an amicable settlement, the court posted the matter for hearing on September 11. While hearing the plea on August 25, the HC had indicated the money could be shared among the petitioner, the first wife and her daughter. Both the families had claimed they were unaware of the other’s existence till the policeman passed away on May 30.
The policeman, who was posted as an assistant sub-inspector with Maharashtra Railway Police Force, had married his first wife in 1992 and the second wife in 1998. He had not divorced the first wife.
Advocate Prerak Sharma, representing the daughter from the second marriage, had told the court that when his client’s mother wrote to the Railways seeking pension benefits, employment and gratuity following her husband’s death, she came to know that a similar letter had been written by another woman, who also claimed to be the wife of the deceased and had a daughter with him.
The plea had stated that both marriages were registered with the Registrar of Marriages and under the Hindu Marriage Act. Sharma had submitted that his client being the child of the second wife had a right to the pension and death-cum-retirement gratuity of her father, and therefore, she and her mother should get equal proportion in the compensation provided by the state and the Railways.
Advocate Prashant Dingrani, who appeared for the first wife and her daughter, had opposed the plea.
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