(1) The short question that arises in this appeal is whether the Claims Commissioner under the Railways Act, 1890, has power to apportion compensation in respect of loss occasioned by the death of a passenger amongst the dependents of the deceased, when the application for compensation is made only by one of the dependents. The deceased Ebrahim Abdul Karim was serving as a sepoy in Military Brass Band and whilst he was travelling by 35 Up Kirti Express on 21st May 1958, he met with his death as a result of derailment which occurred at a place called Chamarj. Bai Zubeda who was the widow of the deceased thereupon made an application to the Claims Commissioner appointed under Section 82-B of the Railways Act for compensation for loss occasioned by the death of the deceased. The amount of compensation which she claimed from the railway administration was Rs.30,000/- and in support of the said claim she set out in the application that the deceased was in good health and was only thirty years old and was earning a salary of Rs.140/- per month. She also mentioned in the application that the deceased had left surviving him, besides herself, two minor daughters and one minor son as also aged parents and the deceased was maintaining them. The claim for compensation made by her in the application was inquired into by the Claims Commissioner and the Claims Commissioner came to the conclusion that the railway administration was liable to pay the sum of Rs. 5,200/- to her, proceeded to consider the question of apportionment of thesaid amount amongst the dependents of the deceased. The Compensation Commissioner came to the conclusion that besides the widow, the two minor daughters and one minor son, the two aged parents of the deceased were also dependents of the deceased and he accordingly by an order dated 19th November 1958 apportioned the sum of Rs. 5,200/- which will be held to be the amount of compensation payable by the railway administration amongst the widow, two minor daughters, one minor son and two aged parents in the following manner: -
(1) The widow Rs. 851.00(2) The two minor daughters and one minor sonRs. 883.00 each. (3) The two aged parents Rs. 850.00 each
and directed the Railway administration to make payment of the amount of compensation accordingly. The widow, the two minor daughters and the minor son thereupon preferred an appeal in this Court the aged two parents of the deceased were made respondents Nos. 1 and 2 and the Union of India was joined as respondentNo.3. The appeal was directed only against the apportionment of the amount of compensation amongst the dependents of the deceased. During the pendency of the appeal the widow died and since the two minor daughters and the minor son were the only heirs and legal representatives of the widow, they continued the appeal as appellants. The aged father of the deceased who was respondent No.1 also died pending the appeal and his heirs and legal representatives were, therefore, brought on record in his place instead.
(2) The appeal as pointed out above was directed only against the apportionment of the amount of compensation amongst the dependent of the deceased and the only contest, therefore, was between the appellants on the one hand and respondents Nos. 1 (1) to 1 (6) and 2 on the other. It was contended on behalf of the appellants that the application for compensation having been made by the widow who was admittedly a dependant of the deceased and no application for compensation having been made by any other dependents of the deceased the Compensation Commissioner had no jurisdiction to apportion the amount of compensation amongst the dependents of the deceased and that the order of the Compensation Commissioner in so far as it apportioned the amount of compensation amongst the dependents of the deceased was beyond his jurisdiction and was liable to beset aside. The is contention was disputed on behalf of respondents Nos. 1 (1) to 1 (6) and 2 and the argument for compensation made by the widow was an application for the benefit of all the dependents of the deceased and the Compensation Commissioner was therefore, entitled to apportion the amount of compensation amongst the dependents of the deceased. These rival contentions raised a question of construction of the relevant provisions of the Railways Act relating to compensation in respect of loss occasioned as a result of accident to trains carrying passengers. These provisions are to be found in Sections 82-A of the Railways Act and we shall briefly examine these provisions for the purpose of deciding the scope and ambit of the jurisdiction of the Compensation Commissioner under these provisions.
(3) Sub-section (1) of Section 82-A declares the liability of the railway administration to pay compensation for loss occasioned by the death of a passenger dying as a result of an accident to a trains in carrying passengers and for personal injury and loss, destruction or deterioration of animals or goods owned by the passenger and accompanying the passenger in his compartment or on the train, sustained as a result of such accident. There is a limit imposed by sub-section (2) of Section 82-A on the liability of railway administration and that limit is Rs.20,000/- in respect of any one person. The claim for compensation which may be made against the railway administration under Section 82-a is to be investigated by a Compensation Commissioner to be appointed by the Central Government under section 82-A and one of the persons who can make such an application is in the case of death resulting from accident, any dependent of the deceased. Sub-section (2) of Section 82-C that no application for compensation shall be entertained unless it is made within three months of the occurrence of the accident, but the Compensation Commissioner may on good cause shown allow any application to be made at any time within one year of such occurrence section 82-D lays down the procedure and powers of the Compensation Commissioner in regard to the application of compensation which may be made before him. Section 82-E enabled the Compensation Commissioner to make interim orders for compensation. Sub-section (1) of Section 82-F constitutes the Compensation Commissioner the exclusive tribunal for the determination of 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. Sub-section (2) of Section 82-F gives a right of appeal to the High Court to any person aggrieved by the decision of the Compensation Commissioner refusing to grant compensation or as to the amount of compensation granted to him. There is a period of limitation provided for such appeal by sub-section (3) of Section 82-F but we are not concerned with it as the present appeal is admittedly in time. then comes Section 82-G which contains a provision of some importance so far as the question before s is concerned. Sub-section (1), (2) and (3) of that Section are not very material for when there is only one application for compensation in respect of a passenger, there is no difficulty. When the amount of compensation awarded, to the applicant is deposited by the railway administration, the Compensation Commissioner is required to pay it to the applicant where there are more applications than one for compensation in respect off a single passenger. What is to happen in such a case? Sub-section (4) of Section 82-G provides that the where such is the case the amount of compensation may be apportioned amongst the applicants in such a manner as the Compensation Commissioner thinks fit or may be allotted to the applicant who in the opinion of the Compensation Commissioner is best entitled thereto, subject to such applicant giving a bond or other sufficient security. Then follow Sections 82-H and 82-I which are for the purpose of appeal section 82-J which is the last section in this group of Sections confers power on the Central Government to make rules and in exercise of this power the Central Government has made certain rules.
(4) Now it is clear from an analysis of the provisions of sections 82-A to82-J which we have set out above that where death of a passenger occurs as a result of an accident to a train carrying passenger, the railway administration is liable to pay cx1 for the loss occasioned by the death of the passenger. The application for compensation for loss occasioned by the death of the passenger may be made by any dependent of the deceased and such application must be mad within a period of three months from the date of occurrence of the accident. The claim for compensation made in the application would be inquired by the Compensation Commissioner and the Compensation Commissioner may under the railway administration to pay compensation to the applicant for loss occasioned by the death of the passenger. The Compensation Commissioner has obviously no power to enquire into the question as to who are the dependents of the deceased and whether the compensation determined to be payable by the railway administration should be apportioned amongst them. It is, only when there are more applications than one for compensation in respect of a single passenger that the Compensation Commissioner can apportion the compensation determined to be payable by the railway administration but even in such a case the apportionment can be made only amongst the applicants and no part of the compensation can be given to those dependents of the deceased of who are not applicants before him. There is no provisions in this group of Sections or in any other part of the Railway Act which enables a dependent of the deceased to make an application for the benefit of himself and the other dependents of the deceased nor is there any provision which make the benefit of any order which maybe made by the Compensation Commissioner on the application of a dependent of the deceased available to the other dependents. The only power which the Compensation Commissioner has is to order payment of compensation to the applicant and if there are more applicants then one, then one, then to apportion the amount of c1 amongst the applicants. The scheme of this group of Sections is different from the scheme which we find adopted in the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, where it is expressly provided that every action under that Act shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, parent and child, if any, of the person whose death has been caused and in every such action the Court may give such damages as it may think fit proportioned to the loss resulting from such death to the parties respectively for whom and for whose benefit such action shall be brought. Even under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, were find an express provision made in Section 8 that on the deposit of any money as c1 in respect of a deceased workman, the Commissioner under that Act shall take steps for determining the distribution of the amount of c1 and the c1 shall be apportioned amongst the dependents of the deceased workmen or any of them in such proportion as the Commissioner thinks fit or may in the discretion of the Commissioner enough there is no provision made in the Railways Act. No application can, therefore, be made by a dependent of the deceased for the benefit of himself and the other dependents for the purpose of claiming c1 for loss occasioned by the death of a passenger dying as a result of an accident to a train carrying passengers and equally the Claims Commissioner cannot inquire into the question as to who are the dependents of the deceased other than the applicant and how the amount of c1 should be apportioned amongst them. The application for c1 in the present case was made by the widow who was admittedly a dependent of the deceased and the only the order which could, therefore, be made the application was an order payment of c1 to the widow for loss occasion by the death of the deceased. We may point out here that apart altogether from this question of law, even the factual basis for the argument on behalf of respondents Nos. 1(1) to 1(6) and 2 is wanting in the present case. The application made by the widow was clearly an application by her for payment of c1 to her. it was not an application for the benefit of the two aged parents of the deceased. The fact that there were two aged parents of the deceased was mentioned in the application only in order to strengthen her claim for c1. We are, therefore, of the view that the c2c had no jurisdiction to apportion the amount of c1 amongst the dependents of the deceased and that the order apportioning the amount of c1 amongst the widow, the two minor daughters, the minor son and the two aged parents of the deceased was beyond the jurisdiction of the c2c.
(5) In the result we allow the appeal and set aside the order passed by the c2c and substitute in its place an order that the appellants as heirs of Bai Zubeda are entitled to the sum of RS. 5,200/- being the amount of c1 determined to be payable by the railway administration and that the said amount be deposited by the railway administration with the Additional Registrar of the High Court this date in any subordinate court, it shall be sent by the Court in which it is deposited to this Court for being deposited with the Additional Registrar and that the Additional Registrar shall hold the said amount in the joint names of the appellants who are minors and s and when each of the appellants attains majority he shall be at liberty apply to this Court for a direction that his share in the said amount may be directed to be paid over to him by the Additional Registrar. The Additional Registrar will in the meaning invest the said amount in Defence Deposit Certificates. There will be no order as to costs of the appeal. Liberty to apply.
(6) Appeal allowed.