H.R. Krishnan, J.
1. This is an appeal by the claimant (dependent mother) of an employee suffering a fatal accident by being run over by a motor truck while in the employment of the defendants Nos. 1, 2 and 3 who run a touring cinema. The order appealed from is that of the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner who has rejected the claim for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act on the ground that the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal had already granted to the claimant compensation of Rs. 3,600-00 and she would not be entitled to compensation twice over.
2. The facts of the case are simple and are common grounds. The deceased workman was a cleaner in a truck owned by there employers-respondents Nos. 1. 2 and 3 (respondent No. 4 being the insurance company). The boy met with a fatal accident while working in that capacity. There is, therefore, no doubt that the employer would be liable to pay compensation both under the Workmen's Compensation Act and under the Motor Vehicles Act. At the first instance the mother dependent went to the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. It held the employers liable. In arriving at the figure the Tribunal applied the formula given in the Schedule to the Workmen's Compensation Act. The monthly wages were found on facts to be Rs. 60-00. It appears that while the cleaner was out in the moving truck the employer alto used to feed him; but that was excluded because it was not really part of the wages and was ex gratia. On that basis compensation of Rs. 3,6000-00 was awarded.
3. Now the claimant cams to the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner and wanted to be compensated over again. The Commissioner noticed the fact that the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal had already awarded and, as it turns out, awarded precisely the. same amount as the Commissioner himself would have awarded had he held the employer liable. In his view, no claimant wan entitled to damages twice over and accordingly he dismissed the claim.
4. This looks quite reasonable. It can be theoretically argued without reference to any statute that in a situation like this, where a claim for compensation is cognizable by two different tribunals, the claimant should get the larger of the two amounts the respective tribunals would award as compensation-the smaller amount not being duplicated but being worked into the larger amount. If, for example, in this case the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal had awarded Rs 3,600 and the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner awards Rs. 7,000 the effective order by the latter Tribunal will be the payment of the excess; that is, Rs. 3,400 in the instant case. This problem however does not arise in the instant case because the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal has itself applied the Workmen's Compensation formula.
5. Actually Section 3(5) of the Workmen's Compensation Act does not even allow it:
3(5) Nothing herein contained shall be deemed to confer any right to compensation on a workman in respect of any injury if he has instituted in a civil Court a suit for damages in respect of the injury against the employer or any other person; and no suit for damages shall be maintainable by a workman in any Court of law in respect of any injury-
(a) if he has instituted a claim to compensation in respect of the injury before a Commissioner; or
(b) if an agreement has been come to between the workman and his employer providing for the payment of compensation in respect of the injury in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
I would understand by a 'civil Court' the same as 'any court of law' used later on in the same Sub-section. The word 'civil Court' has not been defined in Section 2 of the Act, and the entire trend of Section 3(5) is towards prohibition of duplication of proceedings not merely in a Court functioning under the Civil Procedure Code or the local Civil Courts Act but 'any court' competent to notice the injury and grant compensation, such as any statutory tribunal, for example, the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. This section can certainly work hardship on occasions of the extreme kind; the claimant having started in some civil Court and made the claim, he would be helpless in the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner's Court, even where his suit or claim is dismissed by the other Court. The disqualification for proceeding in the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner's Court does not start when the claimant obtains compensation elsewhere, but starts the moment he moves another Court. Similarly, the disqualification to move any other Tribunal starts not when the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner awards compensation but the moment he is approached with a claim. At all events, the principle here is something even more drastic than what the Commissioner has applied in his order,-the non-maintainability of claims in one alternative Tribunal if the other had been approached, and looked at that way the order of the Commissioner was proper and is maintained.
6. The appeal is dismissed. But in the special circumstances of the case there will be no order for costs.