That’s The Price Of Losing 21 Male Family Members, But Female Relatives Want A Share
By Ketan Tanna /TNN
Mumbai: The recent monsoon onslaught in Maharashtra has taken a village woman close to an unexpected fortune. Twentyeight-year-old Sneha Sanjay Sakpal from Kundivati, a small hamlet in Raigad district, is likely to get Rs 42 lakh as compensation as the astonishing consequence of an equally astonishing misfortune. The floods claimed the lives of 21 members of her family, leaving her as the sole survivor. With Rs 1 lakh being offered by the state government for every deceased family member, she is in a position to claim Rs 21 lakh from Maharashtra.
With a central government relief that matches the state government’s, she is on the verge of receiving Rs 42 lakh. This has inevitably brought some relatives into the picture.
Sneha was married to Sanjay Sakhpal, the great grandson of Ennabai Sakhpal, a 100-year-old man who headed a vast joint family comprising 21 sons and grandsons. On July 26, when heavy rains struck Kundivati village, Sneha had gone visiting her parents in another village and escaped the landslide that entombed her husband’s family.
Raigad district collector Bhaskar Wankhede, who is in charge of distributing the money, is disturbed by a complication that appears to be brewing. Three married daughters of Ennabai are now contesting Sneha’s claims.
Under the Hindu Succession Act which governs flood relief in Maharashtra, the compensation is given to the next of kith and kin of the deceased. For example, if a husband dies, his wife is given the compensation. If both parents are dead, the children are given the relief. If the children have not survived as well, then the spouses of the children are first in the line of succession.
Sneha was married to a great grandson of Ennabai and she was part of a Hindu joint family. According to legal opinion, she has a strong case as the claimant. But since three of Ennabai’s surviving daughters have made similar claims, the collector has decided to refer the matter to Prasad Patil, the district government pleader.
Patil told this paper that in all probability, Sneha should be getting the compensation amount after a verification of her status-as Level One in the line of family succession. “Not only is she the surviving member but she is also what we can call a dependant of the family, whereas Ennabai’s daughters were married into other families. “Maybe, if there was landed property, Ennabai’s daughters would be entitled to a share. But here it’s a different matter altogether,” said Patil.
There is a possibility that matters will have to be sorted out not only on the succession aspect but also on who really needs the aid. According to Patil, such cases that involve large amounts invariably land up in court. However, he added, “I need to study the matter deeply and only then can I give you an informed opinion.”