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Gurmit Singh and anr. Vs. Ajit Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Regular First Appeal No. 74 of 1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1977P& H381
ActsFatal Accidents Act, 1855 - Sections 1A
AppellantGurmit Singh and anr.
RespondentAjit Singh and ors.
Appellant Advocate B.D. Mehra, Adv.
Respondent Advocate N.K. Sodhi, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredVellayappa v. Nata
Excerpt:
- sections 100-a [as inserted by act 22 of 2002], 110 & 104 & letters patent, 1865, clause 10: [dr. b.s. chauhan, cj, l. mohapatra & a.s. naidu, jj] letters patent appeal order of single judge of high court passed while deciding matters filed under order 43, rule1 of c.p.c., - held, after introduction of section 110a in the c.p.c., by 2002 amendment act, no letters patent appeal is maintainable against judgment/order/decree passed by a single judge of a high court. a right of appeal, even though a vested one, can be taken away by law. it is pertinent to note that section 100-a introduced by 2002 amendment of the code starts with a non obstante clause. the purpose of such clause is to give the enacting part of an overriding effect in the case of a conflict with laws mentioned with the..........children of jawand singh.4. even otherwise, i do not see any justification for holding that illegitimate children are not entitled to sue for compensation under the indian fatal accidents act. section 1a provides that an action for compensation shall be for the benefit of 'the wife', husband, parent and child, 'if any' of the deceased. section 4 defines child as including 'son and daughter and grandson and grand-daughter and step-son and step-daughter'. the learned counsel for the respondents argued that the inclusion of step-son and step-daughter in the definition of 'child' showed that the expression 'child' was meant to include only legitimate offspring and exclude illegitimate offspring. i do not agree. if the expression 'child' is defined to include a child not born of the.....
Judgment:

O. Chinnappa Reddy, J.

1. Jawand Singh was murdered by the defendants-respondents. His children, Gurmit Singh and Desho, filed the suit to recover compensation under the Indian Fatal Accidents Act. The lower Court dismissed the suit on the ground that they were not the legitimate children of Jawand Singh. Their mother Udham Kaur was a Muslim lady who had been abducted by Jawand Singh from Pakistan and had lived with him and borne him the children, Gurmit Singh and Desho. She was never legally married to Jawand Singh.

2. In this appeal by Gurmit Singh and Desho, the finding regarding their illegitimacy is attacked. It is also urged that, even so, they are entitled to compensation under the Indian Fatal Accidents Act.

3. Balwant Singh, a cousin of Jawand Singh, deposed that Udham Kaur was married to Jawand Singh in 1947 and lived with him for seven years. Gurmit Singh and Desho were the children of Jawand Singh and Udham Kaur. In cross-examination he stated that Jawand Singh had kidnapped Udham Kaur, brought her to India, and married her. He admitted 'the marriage was not recorded', in. India very few marriages are 'recorded' and, therefore, nothing can turn on that circumstance. Desho, the daughter, was also examined as a witness. She deposed that she was the daughter of Jawand Singh. The lower Court commented that the plaintiff's counsel deliberately did not question Desho about her relationship with Jawand Singh. It is difficult to understand the comment The defendants had the opportunity to cross-examine her on her statement in chief examination that she was the daughter of Jawand Singh. It was not suggested to her that her mother Udham Kaur was not married to Jawand Singh. I see no reason to reject the testimony of Balwant Singh in theabsence of any rebuttal evidence I hold that Gurmit Singh and Desho are proved to be the legitimate children of Jawand Singh.

4. Even otherwise, I do not see any justification for holding that illegitimate children are not entitled to sue for compensation under the Indian Fatal Accidents Act. Section 1A provides that an action for compensation shall be for the benefit of 'the wife', husband, parent and child, 'if any' of the deceased. Section 4 defines child as including 'son and daughter and grandson and grand-daughter and step-son and step-daughter'. The learned counsel for the respondents argued that the inclusion of step-son and step-daughter in the definition of 'child' showed that the expression 'child' was meant to include only legitimate offspring and exclude illegitimate offspring. I do not agree. If the expression 'child' is defined to include a child not born of the loins of the deceased, I see no reason to interpret the expression so as to exclude a child born of the loins of the deceased. Under the Hindu Law an illegitimate child is entitled to be maintained by the father, as much as a legitimate child: vide Vellayappa v. Nata-rajan, 58 Ind App 402: (AIR 1931 PC 294). The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act applies to 'any child, legitimate or illegitimate': vide Section 2(1) Explanation. Section 125, Cri. P. C., provides for an order for maintenance against any person neglecting to maintain his legitimate or illegitimate child. Thus if a parent is under an obligation to maintain his illegitimate child there is no reason why the illegitimate child should not be entitled to compensation from the person responsible for the death of the parent. There is no justification whatever for introducing the qualifying word 'legitimate' to prefix the word child in Section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act.

5. The learned Subordinate Judge assessed the damages at Rs. 7,000 in case the plaintiffs were to be held to be entitled to damages. No argument was advanced before me regarding the assessment of damages. The judgment and decree of the learned Subordinate Judge are set aside. There will be a decree in favour of the plaintiffs for Rs. 7,000 with interest at 6 per cent, from the date of suit. The plaintiffs will receive proportionate costs from the defendants both here and in the lower Court. TheCourt-fee due to the Government will be paid by the plaintiffs.


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