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Union of India (Uoi) Vs. Vinod Prakash Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ Petn. No. 9441 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1982All68; [1981(43)FLR318]
ActsRailways Act, 1890 - Sections 82B, 82C, 82D and 82J; Railway Accidents (Compensation) Rules, 1950 - Rule 27; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 47, Rule 1; Compensation Act, 1923 - Sections 2(1)
AppellantUnion of India (Uoi)
RespondentVinod Prakash Singh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateLalji Sinha, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateG.P. Mathur, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....power to review - sections 82b, 82d and 82j of railways act, 1890 and rule 27of railway accidents (compensation) rules, 1950 - rule 27 confers power of review on magistrate - held, ad hoc claim commissioner though not a regular court is competent to review his previous judgment by virtue of rule 27. - - it found that as far as the claim of awadhesh kumar singh was concerned, the provisions of the statute clearly indicated that the question as to whether smt. 92 of 1957 :(air 1958 sc 79). section 9 (1) and section 10 of the industrial disputes (appellate tribunal) act, 1950, as well as the relevant rules and orders framed under the act were considered and it was held that the civil p. applies to the proceedings before the appellate tribunal with the result that the appellate tribunal..........were not dependent on the deceased smt. rama devi and the claim was barred by time.4. the ad hoc claims commissioner, sri p. chandra, held that smt. rama devi was travelling on the ill-fated train and died as a result of the accident. it was further found that she was a bona fide passenger on the train at the time of the accident and that the claim petition was filed within time. the ad hoc claims commissioner went on to hold that vinod prakash singh was a major and as such he could not get any compensation for the death of his mother. it went on to consider whether awadhesh kumar singh was entitled to get compensation. it rejected the claim that the deceased smt. rama devi had an independent business and found that she was not an earning member of the family. on the basis of this.....
Judgment:

B.N. Sapru, J.

1. 66 Down Janta Express collided with M-5 Up Goods Train at Katghar near Moradabad on the night intervening 20/21-2-1974. In that accident one Smt. Rama Devi, wife of Sheetla Bux Singh and mother of Vinod Prakash Singh, major and Awadhesh Kumar Singh, minor died. An application under Section 82-C of the Railways Act was filed by Vinod Prakash Singh and Awadhesh Kumar Singh, under the guardianship of his brother Vinod Prakash Singh, for compensation for the death of their mother.

2. The case of the two claimants was that Smt. Rama Devi was travelling with her husband Sheetla Bux Singh on the ill-fated day in the train and Smt. Rama Devi died as a result of the accident. It was asserted that Smt. Rama Devi was doing dairy business at the time of the accident and that the claimants were the sole surviving heirs of the deceased Smt. Rama Devi and they were entitled to claim the compensation for the death of their mother.

3. The claim petition was resisted on behalf of the Union of India and it was pleaded that Smt. Rama Devi was not a bona fide passenger on the train at the time of accident. It was also asserted that the claimants were not dependent on the deceased Smt. Rama Devi and the claim was barred by time.

4. The Ad hoc Claims Commissioner, Sri p. Chandra, held that Smt. Rama Devi was travelling on the ill-fated train and died as a result of the accident. It was further found that she was a bona fide passenger on the train at the time of the accident and that the claim petition was filed within time. The Ad hoc Claims Commissioner went on to hold that Vinod Prakash Singh was a major and as such he could not get any compensation for the death of his mother. It went on to consider whether Awadhesh Kumar Singh was entitled to get compensation. It rejected the claim that the deceased Smt. Rama Devi had an independent business and found that she was not an earning member of the family. On the basis of this finding, it was held that since both the claimants were not dependent on Smt. Rama Devi, they were not entitled to receive any compensation. It accordingly dismissed the claim petition by its order dated 3-4-1975.

5. An application for review was filed on behalf of Awadhesh Kumar Singh and Vinod Prakash Singh. The review was sought on the ground that in the case of a minor it was not necessary that the minor should be dependent upon the person for whose death the compensation was claimed. It was pointed out that Awadhesh Kumar Singh being a minor his case was covered under Section 2(1)(d)(i) of the Workmen's Compensation Act which is applicable to the proceedings before the Claims Commissioner. It was urged that it was clear from the language of the Act that in respect of the heirs mentioned in Section 2(1)(d)(i) of the Workmen's Compensation Act it was not necessary that they were wholly dependent on the earnings of the deceased. It was pointed out in the review application that the legal distinction was not noticed by the Court and as such the review was sought.

6. The review petition was contested by the petitioner. The argument advanced on behalf of the petitioner was that the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner had no jurisdiction to review his earlier order either under Order XLVII Rule 1 or under his inherent powers.

7. The Ad hoc Claims Commissioner held that the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner was a court which had been created by a notification of the Central Government under Section 82B of the Railways Act. It then observed that Section 82C specified the persons who were competent to file a claim petition and the time limit within which such claim petition might be made. Section 82D laid down the powers of and procedure to be followed by the Claims Commissioner. Sub-section (1) prescribed that 'in inquiring into and determining any claim for compensation payable under Section 82A, the Claims Commissioner may, subject to any rules that may be made in this behalf, follow such summary procedure as he thinks fit.' Sub-section (2) laid down that the Claims Commissioner shall have all the powers of a Civil Court for purposes of taking evidence on oath and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the discovery and production of documents and material objects and the Claims Commissioner shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for all purposes of Section 195 and Chapter 35 of the Criminal P. C. Section 82J gave powers to the Central Government to make rules to carry out the objects of Sections 82A to 82H. In pursuance of that power the Central Government had made rules known as Railway Accidents (Compensation) Rules, 1950. These rules were amended by the Railway Accidents (Compensation) Amendment Rules, 1974. However, Rule 27 of the Railway Accidents (Compensation) Rules, 1950 remained unaffected by the amendment, It runs as under :

'In so far as these rules make no provisions or make insufficient provisions the Commissioner shall follow the procedure laid down in the Civil P. C. 1908 for the trial of the suits.'

8. The Ad hoc Claims Commissioner noticed that the Rules and the Act were silent on the powers of the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner to review his order. The Ad hoc Claims Commissioner held that the Claims Commissioner was a Court and as such it had inherent powers to review its order under Order XLVII Rule 1 of the Civil P. C. The Ad hoc Claims Commissioner then went on to consider whether on the facts of the case review could be granted within the meaning of Order XLVII. Rule 1 of the Civil P. C. It found that as far as the claim of Awadhesh Kumar Singh was concerned, the provisions of the statute clearly indicated that the question as to whether Smt. Rama Devi was an earning member of the family, was irrelevant. The statute was clear, according to the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner, that Awadhesh Kumar Singh was entitled to receive compensation. It accordingly reviewed its order and allowed compensation of Rs. 50,000/- to Awadhesh Kumar Singh. It, however, dismissed the review application in so far as the relief was claimed by Vinod Prakash Singh.

9. Against the order of the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner the Union of India has preferred the present appeal,

10. The first submission of Sri Lalji Sinha appearing on behalf of the petitioner is that the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner had no jurisdiction to review its order. Section 82A of the Railways Act provides that where in the course of working a rail accident occurs, the railway administration shall be liable to pay compensation to the extent set out in Sub-section (2). Section 82B provides for appointment of a Claims Commissioner, Section 82C provided that an application for compensation under Section 82A arising out of any accident of the nature specified therein, may be made,

(a) to (c) .....

(d) where death has resulted from the accident, by any dependent of the deceased.

11. Sub-section (2) provides the limitation for presentation of the application for compensation. The Explanation to Section 82-C is important, it provides that the word 'dependent' has the meaning assigned to it in Clause (d) of Section 2 of the Workmen's Compensation Act 1923. Section 82-D provides that the Claims Commissioner may, subject to the rules framed, follow a summary procedure as it thinks fit. Then Sub-section (2) provides that the Claims Commissioner shall have all the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath (which the Claims Commissioner is hereby empowered to impose) and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the discovery and production of documents and material objects and the Claims Commissioner shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for all the purpose of Section 195 and Chapter XXXV of the Criminal P. C., 1898. Section 82-F (1) provides that any question, as to the liability of the railway administration to pay compensation under Section 82-A, or as to the amount thereof, or as to the person to whom such compensation is payable, shall be decided by the Claims Commissioner. Section 82-F (2) runs as follows :--

'Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Claims Commissioner refusing to grant compensation, or as to the amount of compensation granted to him, may prefer an appeal to the High Court having jurisdiction in the place where the accident occurred : Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall be deemed to authorise the High Court to grant compensation in excess of the limit specified in Section 82-A'.

12. Section 82-J provides that the Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out the objects of Sections 82-A to 82-H inclusive. Sub-section (2) provides that in particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for various matters specified in the Rules. Sub-section (3) required that the rules made shall be laid before the House of Parliament.

13. The argument of Sri Lalji Sinha is that only certain provisions of the Civil P. C. have been made applicable to the proceedings before the Claims Commissioner by virtue of Section 82-D of the Railways Act and as the power of review is not mentioned therein, there is no power of review. Sri Lalji Sinha's argument does not take into consideration Rule 27 of the Rules which provides that in so far as these Rules make no provision or make insufficient provision, the Commssioner shall follow the procedure laid down in the Civil P. C., 1908 for the trial of suits. The Civil P. C. provides review in Section 114 and under Order XLVII Rule 1. The trial of the suit does not necessarily conclude with a judgment. The Code itself contemplates on application for review and grants a power of review. To restrict the meaning of the words trial of suits to the time of the signing of the judgment would unnecessarily curtail their scope when the Code itself contemplates review proceedings after the delivery of judgment. In view of the provisions, it is clear that the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner was entitled to review the previous judgment.

14. Sri Lalji Sinha has urged on the basis of a decision of this court in the case of Kailash Singh Rajput v. Ram Prakash (AIR 1979 All 110) that the power of review must be expressly conferred on a Civil Court and there is no inherent power of review. The learned Judge reached this conclusion on the basis of a judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Patel Narshi Thakershi v. Pradyumna Singhji (AIR 1970 SC 1273). The Ad hoc Claims Commissioner is not a regular Civil Court and its authority flows from the Railways Act, as such in the absence of express conferment of powers of review he could not have reviewed his judgment under any inherent power. However, as pointed out earlier, the power of review has been conferred upon him by necessary intendment by virtue of Rule 27 of the Railway Accidents (Compensation) Rules, 1950.

15. In the case of Sree Meenakshi Mills Ltd. v. Their Workmen, (AIR 1958 SC 153) the Supreme Court held that as the Civil P. C. applies to the proceedings before the Labour Appellate Tribunal, the provisions of the Code must apply to those proceedings. In paragraph 11 of the judgment it was observed as under :

'That takes us to the two other points raised by the appellants in Appeal No. 217 of 1956. The first point which has been raised in this appeal by the appellants is about the jurisdiction of the appellate tribunal to review its own orders in appropriate cases under Order 47 of the Civil P. C. This court has recently had occasion to consider the question about the applicability of the Civil P. C. to the proceedings before the Labour Appellate Tribunal in Martin Burn Ltd. v. R. N. Banerjee, C. A. No. 92 of 1957 : (AIR 1958 SC 79). Section 9 (1) and Section 10 of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act, 1950, as well as the relevant rules and orders framed under the Act were considered and it was held that the Civil P. C. applies to the proceedings before the appellate tribunal with the result that the appellate tribunal can exercise its powers under Order 41, Rule 21 as well as under Section 151 of the Code. It is true that in this case there was no occasion to consider the applicability of the provisions of Order 47 of the Code but that does not make any difference. If the Civil P. C. applies to the proceedings before the Labour Appellate Tribunal, it is clear that the provisions of Order 47 would apply to these proceedings as much as Section 151 of the Code or the provisions of Order 41. We must accordingly hold that the appellate tribunal erred in law in coming to the conclusion that it had no jurisdiction to review its own order under the provisions of Order 47 of the Code.'

16. A somewhat similar question came up before the Supreme Court in the case of Martin Burn Ltd. v. R. N. Banerjee (AIR 1958 SC 79). In that case Section 9 of the Industrial Disputes (Appellate Tribunal) Act provides that

'(1) The Appellate Tribunal shall have the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court, when hearing an appeal, under the Civil P. C., 1908....

(10) The Appellate Tribunal shall follow such procedure as may be prescribed, and subject thereto, it may, by order regulate its practice and procedure and the provisions of the Civil P. C. 1908 shall so far as they are not inconsistent with this Act, or the Rules Or Orders made thereunder, apply to all proceedings before the Appellate Tribunal.'

17. The Labour Appellate Tribunal in exercise of the powers conferred on it by Sub-section (10) of Section 9 had, made orders to regulate its practices and procedure and Order 3, Rule 4 runs as follows :--

'Nothing in these rules shall be deemed to limit or otherwise affect the inherent power of the Tribunal to make such order as may be necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of process of the Court.'

The Supreme Court held that Order XLI, Rule 21 of the Code would apply by virtue of Section 9. It also held that by virtue of Order III. Rule 4 the provisions of Section 151 of the Civil P. C. were applied and even apart from the provisions of Order XLVII, Rule 1 of the Civil P. C. it enabled the court to make the order dated 11-5-1956 as it was necessary to do so in the ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of the process of the court. It accordingly held that the Labour Appellate Tribunal had jurisdiction to set aside the ex parte order dated 14-10-1955 and restore the appellant's application under Section 22.

18. This case is also an authority for the proposition that the Tribunal's power did not end with the ex parte order as by virtue of Section 9 (1), the Civil P. C. had been applied and the appeal could be restored under Order XLI, Rule 21 of the Civil P. C. It followed that by necessary implication Order XLVII, Rule 1 of the Civil P. C. will also apply even after the original order dismissing the claim petition by the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner was passed.

19. Sri Lalji Sinha's next argument is that since Awadhesh Kumar Singh was not dependant on his mother who had no income, he could not claim compensation. Section 82-C of the Railways Act provides that any application for compensation under Section 82-A arising out of an accident of the nature specified therein, may be made,

(a) to (c) .....

(d) where death has resulted from the accident, by any dependant of the deceased.

Thereafter there is an Explanation which runs as under.

'In this section, the word 'dependent' has the meaning assigned to it in Clause (d) of Section 2(1) of the Workmen's Compensation Act 1923 (8 of 1923)'.

20. The word 'dependent' has been defined in Section 2(1)(d) of the Workmen's Compensation Act as under :--

(d) 'dependent' means any of the following relatives of a deceased workman, namely :--

(i) a widow, a minor legitimate son, and unmarried legitimate daughter, or a widowed mother, and

(ii) If wholly dependent on the earnings of the workman at the time of his death, a son or a daughter who has attained the age of 18 years and who is infirm :--

(iii) if wholly or in part dependent on the earnings of the workman at the time of his death;

(a) a widower,

(b) a parent other than a widowed mother.

(c) a minor illegitimate son, an unmarried illegitimate daughter or a daughter legitimate or illegitimate if married and a minor if widowed and a minor,

(d) a minor brother or an unmarried sister or widowed sister if a minor,

(e) a widowed daughter-in-law.

(f) a minor child of a pre-deceased son.

(g) a minor child of a pre-deceased daughter where no parent of the child is alive, or

(h) a paternal grandparent if no parent of the workman is alive.'

21. Thus, persons who are entitled to file an application for compensation under Section 82-A of the Railways Act, must be dependent on the deceased workman within the meaning of Section 2(1)(d) of the Workmen's Compensation Act. For the category of persons falling within Clause (i) of Section 2(1)(d) of the Workmen's Compensation Act only specified relationship with the deceased workman is required and nothing more. The question of being dependent on the earnings of the deceased workman arises only in cases covered by Clauses (ii) and (iii) of Section 2(1)(d) of the Workmen's Compensation Act. Awadhesh Kumar Singh being a minor son of the deceased was entitled to receive the compensation and the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner rightly decided so. This argument of Sri Lalji Sinha cannot also be accepted.

22. We may add that had the order of review of the Ad hoc Claims Commissioner been without jurisdiction (We have, however,' held it to be within Ms jurisdiction), we would have been reluctant to interfere with it under Article 226 of the Constitution of India as it had done mainfest justice.

23. The petition is accordingly dismissed with costs. The interim order dated 26-8-1975 shall stand vacated.


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