1. The appellant is one of the two sisters of one Shaji, who died due to employment injury. A sum of Rs. 23,621/- has been awarded by the 1st respondent, the Deputy Labour Commissioner, Kozhikode, who is the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act, towards compensation. The amount has been deposited by the employer for being distributed to the dependents of the deceased under Section 8 of the Workmen's Compensation Act. The Commissioner made thedistribution in the following terms-
Father .... Rs. 6,000/-
Appellant Rs. 2,000/-
The younger sister who
is arrayed as 4th Respondent
in the appeal Rs. 10,000/-
2. The submission made by the counsel for the appellant is that the appellant and the 4th respondent having been placed in equal position, the Commissioner was not justified in ordering a sum of Rs. 10,000/-to the 4th respondent, and only a sum of Rs. 2,000/- to the appellant. The reason stated by the Commissioner was that by the time the enquiry was instituted under Section 8 of the Act, the appellant had already got married while the 4th respondent remained without being married.
3. We do not think the Commissioner made the correct approach. According to the provisions contained in the Act the date relevant for the purpose of determining the entitlement to compensation is the date on which the employee died, not the date on which the enquiry was instituted. Section 2(1)(d)(iii) of the Workmen's Compensation Act defines a dependent as any relative of a deceased workmen. 'If wholly or in part dependent on the earnings of the workman at the time of his death: and in items of: Clause (d) thereof, dependents include' a minor brother or an unmarried sister or a widowed sister, if a minor'. There could therefore, be no doubt, while deciding the question as to how all would constitute dependents of the deceased and how the compensation amount awarded has to be distributed, the position as was obtaining on the date of the death of the employee is to be taken into account.
4. In this case, the admitted fact is that on the date of death of Shaji, the appellant as well as the 4th respondent were unmarried. That fact deserved due considerationat the hands of the Commissioner. Subsequent events and changes in position are not quite material. The Commissioner, therefore, was in error in making a distinction between the two on consideration of the position as it obtained on the date on which the enquiry was instituted under Section 8 of the Act.
5. The Counsel for the appellant submitted that the amount of Rs. 12,000/- available for setting apart the amount due to the parents of the deceased (namely, respondents 2 and 3), ought to have been allowed to be shared equally between the appellant on the one hand, and the 4th respondent on the other. We are of the opinion that notice could be taken of the fact that between the two the 4th respondent was younger and therefore she deserved a little more consideration compared to the appellant. In that view, we are inclined to hold that interests of justice would be met if we allow the appellant and the 4th respondent to share the remaining Rs. 12,000/-(which is the amount available after providing for respondents 2 and 3) in the ratio of 1:2. In other words, the appellant would be entitled to Rs. 4,000/- out of the amount deposited towards compensation.
6. We allow the appeal to the above extent and direct the 1st respondent the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, to pay a sum of Rs. 4,000/- out of the amount in deposit to the appellant. In all other respects, the order appealed against would stand confirmed. There will be no order as to costs.