Subhasri Chatterjee 23 October 2020
I believe that there is no such judgment where a divorced wife being a legal representative can claim the compensation on account of her husband's accidental death.
The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court in a significant case has held that a divorced wife could not be called a widow of her husband. A widow is a woman whose husband is dead and who has not married again. As long as marital ties remain intact and the man and women share a matrimonial relationship, they can be termed as husband and wife. On death or dissolution of marriage, the matrimonial relationship is severed. A divorcee is not a wife and hence she is not entitled to claim compensation after the death of her ex-husband in an accident.
In another case, the Gujarat High Court has considered the definition of domestic relationship. From the said definition of domestic relationship, it can be said that it is a relationship, which is alive between the persons. The marital relationship continues even on the separation of the couple or their staying apart till the remarriage of either the husband or wife. But once the marital relationship is severed by way of separation or divorce between the parties, they cease to be husband or wife.
In the case of Pramila And Ors. vs Sarvar Khan And Ors, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has observed that 'Legal representative' ordinarily means a person who in law represents the estate of a deceased person or a person on whom the estate devolves on the death of an individual.
Since a divorced wife has no relationship with her ex-husband, she cannot be termed as a legal representative and she has no right to claim compensation on account of her ex-husband's accidental death.
However, this restriction does not bar the right of the other claimants being legal representatives of the deceased. They can lawfully claim the compensation as a matter of right.
Hope this answer helps you.