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Zaibunnisa Vs. the Divisional Superintendent Southern Railway, Hubli - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc. First Appeal No. 232 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1965Kant306; AIR1965Mys306; (1965)1MysLJ215
ActsIndian Railways Act - Sections 82A and 82H; Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923
AppellantZaibunnisa
RespondentThe Divisional Superintendent Southern Railway, Hubli
Excerpt:
.....section 82a and recover compensation under its provision in respect of accident, can once again claim compensation under act of 1923 or under any other law - intention of section 82h is not to forbid successive claims for compensation under same law but to prohibit claims for compensation in respect of same accident under more than one law - if person has recovered compensation under section 82a for loss occasioned by railway accident it would not be open to him to claim compensation in respect of same accident once again under act of 1923 or under any other law creating right to such compensation - recovery of compensation by appellant under section 82a precluded her from claiming any compensation under act of 1923 since claim to such compensation disappeared under section 82h the..........commissioner that the widow of the deceased produced a statement before him that she elected to claim compensation under the indian railways act in preference to the compensation claimable under the workmen's compensation act in case it was held that she could not claim compensation under both the laws.(3) after the adjudication made by the claims commissioner, the railway administration sought a refund of the sum of rs. 3,500/- which had been deposited by the administration before the commissioner for workmen's compensation. that application was opposed by the applicant on the ground that it was possible for her to claim compensation under the workmen's compensation act, in addition to the compensation which she had already recovered under section 82a of the indian railways act. the.....
Judgment:

Somnath Iyer, J.

(1) On June 4, 1962 Hussainsab Doddamani who was a brakes man in the Southern Railway was involved in a railway accident between Kundgol and Saunshi stations and died. The Divisional Superintendent, Southern Railway, Hubli, deposited a sum of Rs. 3,500/- in the Court of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Dharwar, for payment of compensation to the dependents of the deceased Hussainsab. The appellant before us who is the widow of Hussainsab submitted her claim before the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation both on her own behalf as well as on behalf of her children in January 1963.

(2) But there was also a claim made by the widow for payment of compensation under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act in the court of the Ex-officio Claims-Commissioner and Civil Judge, Senior Division, Dharwar, who made an order on February 16, 1963 that the railway administration should pay the compensation of a sum of Rs. 8,000/- to the widow of the deceased Hussainsab. It is seen from the order made by the Ex-officio Claims Commissioner that the widow of the deceased produced a statement before him that she elected to claim compensation under the Indian Railways Act in preference to the compensation claimable under the Workmen's Compensation Act in case it was held that she could not claim compensation under both the laws.

(3) After the adjudication made by the Claims Commissioner, the railway administration sought a refund of the sum of Rs. 3,500/- which had been deposited by the Administration before the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation. That application was opposed by the applicant on the ground that it was possible for her to claim compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, in addition to the compensation which she had already recovered under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act. The Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Dharwar, repelled that contention, and not only disallowed the appellant's claim for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act but also directed the refund to the Administration of the amount which had been deposited before him.

(4) The widow of the deceased Hussainsab appeals.

(5) Mr. Narayana Rao appearing on behalf of the appellant has contended before us that the view taken by the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation rested on a misinterpretation of the provisions of sections 82A and 82H of the Indian Railways Act. Those two sections read:---

'82A. Liability of Railway Administration in respect of accidents to trains carrying passengers.--(1) 'When in the course of working in a railway an accident occurs being either a collision between trains of which one is a train carrying passengers or the derailment of or other accident to a train or any part of a train carrying passengers, then--whether or not there has been any wrongful act, neglect of default on the part of the railway administration such as would entitle a person who has been injured or has suffered loss to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the railway administration shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, be liable to pay compensation to the extent set out in sub-section (2) and to that extent only for loss occasioned by the death of a passenger dying as a result of such accident, and for personal injury and loss, destruction or deterioration of animals or goods owned by the passenger and accompanying the passenger in his compartment or on the train, sustained as a result of such accident.

(2) The liability of a railway administration under this section shall in no case exceed twenty thousand rupees in respect of any one person.'

82 H. Saving as to certain rights--(1) 'The right of any person to claim compensation under section 82A shall not affect the right of such person to recover compensation payable under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, or any other law for the time being in force; but no person shall be entitled to claim compensation more than once in respect of the same accident.

(2) Nothing is sub-section (1) shall affect the right of any person to claim compensation payable under any contract or scheme providing for payment of compensation for death of personal injury or for damages to property or any sum payable under any policy of insurance.'

(6) It is seen that section 82A provides for the liability of the Railway Administration for loss occasioned by the death of a passenger dying as a result of a railway accident and for personal injury and loss of property, whether or not there is negligence on the part of the Railway to which the accident was attributable. Section 82H on which the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation obviously depended for negativing the claim made by the appellant for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, provides that although the right of a person to claim compensation under S. 82A shall not affect the right of such person to recover compensation payable under the Workmen's Compensation act, 1923 or any other law for the time being in force, a claim to compensation shall not be made more than once in respect of the same accident. Sub-section(2) however, provides that the prohibition against a claim for compensation more than once in respect of the same accident does not affect the right to claim compensation under any contract or scheme or policy of insurance.

(7) It is that part of section 82H which says that no person shall claim compensation more than once in respect of the same accident which forms the foundation of the view taken by the Commissioner of Workmen's Compensation that since the appellant had already been paid compensation under section 82A in respect of the accident which killed her husband, it became impossible for her to claim compensation in the respect of the same accident once again under the Workmen's Compensation Act. The submission made before use for the appellant was that the interpretation placed by the Commissioner on section 82H does not flow from its language. The words 'no person shall be entitled to claim compensation more than once in respect of the same accident', according to Mr. Narayana Rao, the learned counsel, mean that no person shall claim compensation more than once under any one law in respect of the same accident and that these words do not mean that a claim compensation under one law shall bar a claim compensation under any other law which provides for payment of compensation which is claimable in respect of an accident.

(8) Mr. Nanjundiah appearing for the Railway Administration has drawn attention to S. 82H as it stood before it was amended by Central Act VII of 1962 which came into force on March 30, 1962. It is the amended section which governs the matter before us since the accident in this case happened on June 4, 1962.

Section 82H as it stood before it is amended read:--

'Saving as to certain rights:--

Nothing contained in the foregoing section relating to the right of any person to claim compensation under section 82A shall affect the right of any such person to recover any compensation payable under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 (VIII of 1923), or any other law for the time being in force or under any contract or scheme providing for payment of compensation for death or personal injury or for damages or property or any sum payable under any policy of insurance'.

It was explained to us by Mr. Nanjundaiah that the interpretation of the old section by the courts made it possible for a person to recover compensation not only under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act but also under other laws such as the Workmen's Compensation Act in respect of one and the same accident and that Parliament therefore considered it necessary to remedy the evil or mischief by so amending section 82H as to make it clear that in respect of one and the same accident, a person could claim compensation only under one law and not under any other. In support of this argument Mr. Nanjundiah asked attention to the statement of objects and reasons annexed to the Bill which formed the foundation of the Amending Act.

(9) It was contended before us by Mr. Narayana Rao that it was impermissible for us to look into the statement of objects and reasons as an aid to the construction of section 82H and that we should depend for our interpretation of that section on the language of that section as it now stands without resorting to any elucidation which might be available in the statement of objects and reasons explaining the purpose for which the bill concerning the Amending Act was initiated in Parliament.

(10) It is really not necessary for us, in my opinion, to say anything in this appeal on the question whether we should or should not for understanding section 82H of the Indian Railways Act derive any aid or assistance from the statement of objects and reasons on which Mr. Nanjundaiah has depended. It is, however, a well recognizeds rule of construction that although the statement of objects and reasons might be looked into for the purpose of ascertaining the historical background of the amending legislation, it is not legitimate to derive any support from that statement of objects and reasons for the interpretation of the law as it stands after its enactment.

(11) Now we should understand the meaning of section 82H only from its language, having recourse to such extrinsic aid as can property be resorted to for ascertaining the legislative intent which would become necessary only in the event of there being any ambiguity presented by the phraseology.

(12) It seems to me, however, that it is not necessary for us to resort to any such extrinsic aid for understanding the meaning of section 82H of the Indian Railways Act. It is seen from section 82A that it provides for payment of compensation for loss occassioned by the death of a passenger as a result of a railway accident and for personal injury and loss of property whether or not any negligence on the part of the railway administration which would normally create a liability for payment of compensation is established.

Section 82H which is really in the nature of a complementary legislative provision provides for two matters. It first provides that the right to compensation under S. 82A shall not bring about a deprivation of the right to compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act or under any other law for the time being in force. What it next provides is that no person shall claim compensation more than once in respect of the same accident. The argument presented before us for the appellant was that the first part of Section 82H makes it clear that a person may claim compensation not only under Section 82A of the Indian Railways Act but that he shall be at liberty to claim compensation in respect of the same accident under the Workmen's Compensation Act if such claim is possible or under any other law providing for payment of compensation in that context.

If that be the meaning of the first part of section 82H, it was argued that we should understand the second part of that section as stating no more than that under each one of those laws under which a claim for compensation becomes possible under the first part of section 82H compensation cannot be claimed more than once.

(13) It seems to me that this interpretation of section 82H is quite unsupportable. The clear meaning of the first part of that section is that it is open to a person who can claim compensation in respect of a railway accident to claim such compensation either under the Indian Railways Act or under the Workmen's Compensation Act or under any other law under which he can claim such compensation and that he is not bound to claim compensation only under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act without having the liberty to make that claim under the other laws if he chooses to do so.

But the question is whether a person who elects to make a claim under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act and recovers compensation under its provisions in respect of an accident, can once again claim compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act or under any other law for the time being in force.

Section 82H as it stood before its amendment in the year 1962, did not contain any clear provision in that regard. But when it was amended, that section made it clear that no person shall be entitled to claim compensation more than once in respect of the same accident. The plain meaning of these words occurring in S. 82H, to my mind, is that in respect of an accident such as the one referred to in section 82A of the Indian Railways Act, a person can claim compensation only once whether that claim is made under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act or whether it is made under any other law. It is obvious that this provision was introduced into section 82H with the intention of making it impossible for a person to claim compensation in respect of any loss occasioned to him in consequence of a railway accident once under the Indian Railways Act and again under the Workmen's Compensation Act, and once again if it is possible to do so, under some other law which entitles him to such compensation. That in respect of loss occassioned by a railway accident there should be only one claim and under only one of the laws which create a right to such compensation is the clear meaning of S. 82H is what is plain from the concluding part of that section.

(14) I am not impressed by the interpretation suggested by Mr. Narayana Rao that those words only mean that the right to compensation created by section 82A or that the right to compensation created by any law can be enforced only once under each one of those laws and that a person entitled to compensation cannot again and again claim compensation under the same law although he could claim compensation under each one of the laws which entitles him to claim such compensation. It is clear that even without the words 'no person shall be entitled to claim compensation more than once in respect of the same accident,' a person entitles to compensation in respect of an accident can claim such compensation only once under any given statute. It will be thoroughly unreasonable for any one to suggest that if those words had not been introduced into section 82H it would be possible for the appellant to claim compensation under section 82A more than once under the Indian Railways Act or under the Workmen's Compensation Act or under any other law again and again.

(15) So it becomes manifest that the legislative intent for incorporating in section 82H those words, was not to forbid successive claims for compensation under the same law but to prohibit claims for compensation in respect of the same accident under more than one law.

(16) In that view of the mater, if a person has recovered compensation under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act for loss occasioned by a railway accident, it would not be open to him to claim compensation in respect of the same accident once again under the Workmen's Compensation Act or under any other law creating a right to such compensation.

(17) But Mr. Narayana Rao suggested that that interpretation might result in inconvenient or unjust consequences. He urged that if in consequence of a railway accident a claim for compensation had been made and that claim had succeeded and that railway accident had caused personal injury to a passenger and that injury resulted in graver consequences such as death at a subsequent point of time which would entitle the dependents of that passenger to higher compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act or under some other law, it would be extremely unjust and unreasonable to say that compensation for loss occassioned in consequence of personal injury should constitute an impediment to a claim for compensation for loss claimable on account of subsequent death. Mr. Narayana Rao further urged that it is a coincidence in the case before us that the deceased Hussainsab was a railway employee and that the Railway Administration was his employer.

He submitted that if the deceased had not been a railway employee but was an employee under some other employer, it would be quite unreasonable to suggest that the recovery of compensation from the Railway Administration who were not his employers should destroy the right to claim compensation from the other employer if it could be claimed under the Workmen's Compensation Act. It was next contended that the deceased was not only a passenger but also an employee and that he filed both the roles when he was travelling on the train which met with an accident, and that if compensation was paid to his widow under section 82A which is payable for the death of a passenger it was not right to think that the payment of compensation in that way should destroy the right to compensation claimable from the Railway Administration for the death of the deceased Hussainsab in the role of an employee of the Railway Administration.

(18) It was not, in my opinion, necessary for us to say anything on the validity of these submissions. It is not necessary for us to discuss what would be the position and whether additional compensation is claimable in the first contingency envisaged by Mr. Narayana Rao. It is also not necessary for us to express, any opinion, on the question whether compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act could have been claimed if Hussainsab had not been a railway employee. I should also add that in support of the argument that the deceased Hussainsab filled two roles, one as a passenger and another as employee of the railway administration, no foundation was laid before the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation.

(19) In this view of the matter, it seems to me that the recovery of compensation by the appellant under section 82A of the Indian Railways Act did preclude her in the circumstances of this case from claiming any compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act since the claim to such compensation disappeared under the provisions of Section 82H of the Indian Railways Act the moment there was an adjudication by the Claims Commissioner for payment of compensation under section 82A.

(20) This appeal, in my opinion, should therefore be dismissed.

(21) No costs.

Chandrasekhar, J.

(22) I agree.

(23) Appeal dismissed.


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