1. This is an appeal by Tehil Singh and Mukhtiar against the judgment and decree of the subordinate Judge 1st Class, Muktsar, dated 30th December, 1974.
2. Briefly. the facts are that the defendants murdered Major Singh. They were challaned and tried under S. 302, Penal Code. Inder Singh defendant No. 4 was acquitted whereas the other three defendants were convicted and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment vide judgment dated 23rd Sept., 1971 by the Sessions Judge, Ferozepur. Plaintiffs Nos. 1 and 2 are the parents, plaintiff No. 3 the widow and plaintiff No. 3 the widow and plaintiff No. 4 the minor daughter of the deceased. They filed a suit for recovery of one lakh rupees as compensation alleging that the deceased was a skilled agriculturist and used to cultivate the lands with a tractor. Besides cultivating his own land, he used to cultivate the land of others on lease. He was earning Rs. 350/- per mensem out of which he used to spend Rs. 50/- on himself and the rest of the income was utilized by the plaintiffs. It was further averred that the defendants were jointly and severally liable to pay the compensation to the plaintiffs.
3. The defendants contested the suit and denied the allegation of the plaintiffs. They pleaded that Major Singh was not murdered by them and that the plaintiffs had not suffered any loss on account of his death and, they were not entitled to any compensation. On the pleadings of the parties. the following issues were framed:--
1. Whether Major Singh was murdered by the defendants on 20th September, 1970? Opp.
2. Whether the plaintiffs had suffered any loss on account of murder of Major Singh and are entitled to any compensation therefor? Opp.
3. If issue No. 2 is proved, to what amount the plaintiffs are entitled as compensation and from whom? Opp.
4. The trial Court held that Tehil Singh and Mukhtiar Singh defendants murdered Major Singh on 20th September. 1970, and that the said defendants were liable to pay Rs. 65,000/- out of which it earmarked Rs. 10,000/- for the marriage expenses of Charanjit Kaur and apportioned the remaining amount amongst the plaintiffs giving Rs. 7700/- to plaintiff No. 1. Rs. 12,650/- to plaintiff No. 2 Rs. 26,400/- to plaintiff No. 3 and Rs. 8,250/- (besides Rs. 10,000/- as marriage expenses) to plaintiff No. 4. Hence, this appeal by the aforesaid defendants.
5. Two contentions have been raised by the learned counsel for the appellants: firstly, that the amount of compensation was not correctly assessed by the tria1 Court, and secondly that the parents of the deceased were not entitled to any compensation.
6. The first question that arises for determination is whether the compensation has been correctly assessed. It is contended by Mr. Majithia that the annual dependency of the dependants was wrongly assessed by the trial Court at Rs. 1,800/-. He urges that even if the estimated income of the deceased is taken to be correct. the principle that has been applied for working out the total compensation is not justified. He submits that the Full Bench of this Court in Lachman Singh v. Gurmit Kaur (1979) 81 Punj LR I: (AIR 1979 Punj & Har 50) has laid down that in order to determine compensation. the annual dependency is to be multiplied with a suitable multiplier taking in to consideration the various factors and the multiplier should not be more than sixteen. According to him even if that multiplier is applied, the dependants are entitled to Rs. 28,800/- only.
7. On the other hand. Mr. Puri has vehemently argued that the learned trial Court has not properly appreciated the evidence and the estimated income of the deceased has also not been correctly worked out. According to him the deceased was carrying on the mechanised farming and was earning a much higher amount. He submits that the amount of compensation has been correctly assessed by the trial Court.
8. I have duly considered the arguments of the learned counsel In order to determine the compensation. first the annual. dependency of the dependants is to be ascertained and thereafter suitable multiplier is to be found out. Therefore, it will be necessary to refer to the evidence of the parties. Smt. Mukhtiar Kaur P W. 2 deposed that the deceased had the earning capacity of about Rs. 700/- to Rs. 800/- per mensem. At the time of his death. he and Paramjit Singh another son were living with them whereas her three other sons were living separately. The second son who was living with them was a student. The wife and children the deceased were also living with them. The income earned by the deceased was spent by him on them as well as on himself. He had also effected a saving of Rs. 25,000/- within a period of about five years before his death and he had purchased the land with that amount. Jaswant Singh P.W. 4 deposed that even if the deceased worked as an employee he was capable of earning Rs. 400 to Rs. 500/- P. M. On the other points he supported his wife Smt. Mukhtiar Kaur. He also stated that Major Singh was the bread earner of his family. Smt. Sukhdip Kaur P.W. 3. widow of the deceased did not state anything about the income. However, she stated that the deceased purchased the land with his savings amounting to Rs. 20,000/-. The deceased used to cultivate the land with a tractor and he used to work for others on hire as well. There is also evidence that he used to drive the tractor himself though he did not hold a license. It is not disputed that he purchased some land. His widow Sukhdeep Kaur P.W. 3 stated that he saved Rs. 20,000/- in 4-5 years with which he purchased the land. There is no ground to disbelieve her statement. From the above statement it is clear that he was progressive farmer and was doing mechanised farming. After taking into consideration all the aforesaid facts. I am of the opinion that his income can reasonably be assessed at the rate of Rs. 350/- P. M. that is, Rs. 4,200/- per annum. as claimed in the plaint. Out of that amount, I allow him an amount of Rs. 85/- P. M. that is. Rs. 1,020/- per annum, as his personal expenses. Thus, the annual dependency of the respondents comes to Rs. 3,1801/- per year.
9. The Full Bench in Lachman Singh's case (AIR 1979 Punj & Har 50) (supra) has observed that the suitable multiplier is to be determined by taking into consideration the number of years of the dependency of the various dependents, the number of years by which the life of the deceased was cut short and the various imponderable factors such like early natural death of the deceased, his becoming incapable of supporting the dependents due to illness or any other natural handicap or calamity. the prospects of the remarriage of the widow. the coming up of age of the dependents and their developing independent sources of income as well as the pecuniary benefits which might accrue to the dependents on account of the death of the person concerned.
10. The deceased was a young man of 26 years. The widow of the deceased was aged about 24 years and the minor daughter about six years at the time of his death. His mother and father ware of 50 and 59 years of age, respectively. There is evidence that there is longevity of age in the family. Thus, it is expected that he would have lived up to the age of 70 years. After taking into consideration all the aforesaid facts, I determine sixteen as the suitable multiplier in the case. The trial Court worked out the compensation on the basis of the law laid down earlier That principle. however, cannot be adopted now in view of the decision in Lachman Singh's case (supra). Therefore, the total amount of compensation comes to Rs. 50,880/-. To make it a round figure, I enhance it to Rs. 5l,000/-.
11. The second question that arises for determination is as to whether the parents of the deceased are entitled to any amount out of the compensation. I have already referred to the evidence wherein it is admitted that the parents were living with the deceased. Even Sukhdeep Kaur P.W. 3 has admitted it. Thus, they were dependent on him. Section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act. provides that whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, and the act is such as would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the party who would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable to an action or suit for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to felony or other crime. It further provides that every action or suit shall be for the benefit of the wife. husband, parent and child, if any. of the deceased, and in every such action the Court may give such damages as it may think proportioned to the loss resulting from such death to the parties respectively. From a reading of the section. it is evident that if the death of a person is caused by any wrongful act. the wife, husband, parents and child of the deceased can bring an action for damages which they suffered on account of his death against the wrong-doer. Thus, the parents are also entitled to damages which they suffered on account of death of their child. The Supreme Court has even held in C. K. Subramonia Iyer v. T. Kunhikuttan Nair. AIR 1970 SC 376, that as a general rule, parents are entitled to recover the present cash value of the prospective service of the deceased minor child. In addition, they may receive compensation for loss of pecuniary benefits reasonably to be expected after the child attains majority.
12. The learned counsel for the appellants has placed reliance on Ramesh Chandra v. Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, Bhopal, AIR 1982 Madh Pra 165. In that case, a young man of 19 years died in an accident. His mother aged 50 years and his brothers and sisters filed an application for compensation before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. The brothers and sisters were not allowed any compensation on the ground that they were neither the dependents mentioned in S. 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act, nor legal representatives under the Hindu Succession Act. From the facts it is evident that the case is distinguishable and the learned counsel cannot derive any benefit therefrom.
13. After taking into consideration the circumstances. I am of the opinion that the parents of the deceased in the present case are entitled to compensation.
14. The last question that arises is how much compensation should be given to each of the plaintiff-respondents. The learned counsel for the respondents has submitted that he has no objection if the compensation is apportioned in any way as there is no dispute between the respondents inter se. After taking into consideration the facts and circumstance of the case, I grant 1/3rd amount of the compensation to the parents. 1/3rd to the widow and the remaining 1/3rd to the daughter of the deceased. Thus, Jaswant Singh and Mukhtiar Kaur, respondents Nos. 1 and 2 would be entitled to Rs. 8,500/- each. widow Smt. Sukhdeep Kaur. resp. 3. to Rs. 17,000/- and daughter Charanjit Kaur respondent No. 4 to Rs. 17,000/-.
15. For the aforesaid reasons, I partly accept the appeal modify the judgment and decree of the trial Court and grant a decree for recovery of Rs. 51,000 against Tehal Singh and Mukhtiar Singh. defendant-appellants. In view of the partial success of the appeal. the parties are left to bear their own costs in this Court. However, the defendant-appellants shall be liable to pay proportionate cost of the plaintiff-respondents in the tria1 Court.
16. Appeal partly allowed.