1. These three appeals arise out of applications Nos. 30, 31 and 32 of 1974 in the Court of Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal,Junagadh. Two more applications, being applications Nos.29 and 33 of 1974 also had come to be filed. All these five applications had arisen out of a fatal accident dated 9-3-74 at Veraval in Junagadh District at about 10.00 A.M. One Vallabhdas Pragji had gone from his wife's brother's marriage and was deputed to the bus station to receive some guests who were expected to reach. Deceased Vallabhdas Pragji had gone there at about 9.00 A.M. and had waited there up to 10.00 A.M. awaiting the guests to arrive, but finding that none had come up, he had started going back to his brother-in-law's place to report the non-arrival of the guests Just outside the entrance of the ST Bus station, he was run over by the truck belonging to the respondent Nos.1 and 2 driver by their employee, the respondent No.3.Death of Vallabhdas was instantaneous. Thereafter five different applications Nos.29,30,31,32 and 33 of 1974 had come to be filed by different heirs of the deceased. The application No.29 of 1974 had come to be filed by Ramaben, widow of Vallabhdas Pragji, impleading all other heirs as respondents, the application No.30/74 had come to be filed by her two sons Pravinkumar and Arvind kumar, the application No.3174 had come to be filed by two other sons of hers Girdhar and Rajesh, the application No.32/74 had come to be filed by Rashila alias babyben the daughter of the deceased, and the application No.3374 had come to be filed by the mother of the deceased, Bai Jamna. As said above, in each of these five applications, the rest of the heirs were made opponents. Each of these five application was to realize the sum of Rs.999/-. Obviously the basic facts were common. The subject matter of the enquiry was common.The subject matter of the enquiry was common and with the consent of the parties , the learned Tribunal had consolidated all the five matters.The learned then District Judge at Junagadh came to hold that application No.29/74 alone was tenable and the rest of the applications were not tenable in view of S.110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. The learned Transport Co. v. Basiranbibi (1971) 12 Guj LR 783 held that in all Rs.21,000/- were liable to be awarded but in his view that only one application was tenable, he awarded the sum of Rs. 9,990/only to the wife Ramaben and dismissed the rest of these applications as incompetent.
2. 1 am told at the Bar that Bai Jamna, the applicant of original application No. 33/74 has by now expired and there will be no question of considering her claim for maintenance or damages. The three applications filed in all by five children of the deceased, all of whom were minor at the time the applications had came to be filed and most of whom must be minor even today if we look at their age in the petitions, were dismissed and so the abovementioned three appeals are preferred. With the consent of the concerned advocates, all the three appeals are heard together and disposed of by this common judgment.
3. The first question to he decided is whether such separate applications by different claimants were tenable or not. The learned Tribunal in this connection has inter alia observed as under:
'Now, it need not be stated that such petition for compensation is instituted under S. 110-A, Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, and its clause (b) of sub-s. (1) lays down that, an application for compensation arising out of an accident of the nature specified in sub-s. (1) of S. 110 may be made, where death has resulted from the accident, by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased, while proviso to this sub-section provides that, where all the legal representatives of the deceased have not joined any such application for compensation, the application shall be made on behalf of or for the benefit of all the legal representatives who have not so joined shall be impleaded as respondents to the application. Thus, by virtue of this proviso to sub-s. (1) of S. 110, only one application by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased person is contemplated and that application would be deemed to have been made in a representative character on behalf of or for the benefit of all the legal representatives. Thus, separate applications by different legal representatives of the deceased would not be maintainable under S. 110-A, Motor Vehicles Act. The application filed by one of the legal representatives would be deemed to have been made in a representative character on behalf, of or for the benefit of all the representatives, Therefore, in view of this clear provisions under the Act itself, only one, out of these five applications instituted separately, by the widow of the deceased would be maintainable and it would be deemed to have been filed in a representative character on behalf of or for the benefit of other legal representatives of the deceased and other four petitions would 'be liable to be dismissed. As stated earlier, petitioner Ramaben of MACP 29/74 is the widow of deceased Vallabhdas Pragji while the petitioners of MACPs 30, 31 and 32 of 1974 are the minor children and petitioner of MACP 33/74 is the mother of deceased, Vallabhdas Pragji. So, Ramaben being the mother and natural guardian of her minor children would be entitled to institute a petition for and on behalf of them all. Similarly, she would be entitled to institute a petition on behalf of her mother-in-law also. Of course, these other legal representatives of the deceased are not joined as party or impleaded as respondents to the petition instituted 'by petitioner Ramaben of MACP 29/74, but that is not fatal, because she can institute her petition not only on behalf of herself but also for and on behalf of other legal representatives also as she is the guardian of her minor children and she can also represent on behalf of her mother in-law. So, in view of this legal position, separate petitions instituted by other legal representatives of deceased Vallabhdas Pragji would not 'be maintainable at law and they are liable to be dismissed outright. However, petitioner Ramaben would be entitled to a compensation for herself as well as for her minor children and her mother-in-law in the petition instituted by her, and as she has in all claimed Rs. 9,990/- she would be entitled to that much of compensation in MACP No. 29/74'.
'I'he learned Tribunal Unfortunately has misconstrued the benign provisions of S. 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act. In other words, the enabling provisions of the said section are treated by the learned Tribunal as importing a sort of a disability. This sort of rigid attitude while interpreting the salutary provisions of a piece of social legislation is really unfortunate. When the learned Tribunal consolidated all the applications with the consent of the concerned parties and when in each of these five petitions all other heirs were impleaded as parties, the learned Tribunal should have treated the consolidated proceedings before him as one application or should have awarded the full amount of compensation in one petition No. 29/74 to Ramaben for and on her behalf of her five minor children and her mother-in-law. The learned Tribunal unfortunately did neither of the things and thinking itself helpless awarded the maximum claim in that application No. 29/74.
4. If any authority is needed for the proposition that S. 110A is an enabling provision and not a disabling one, the judgment of the Calcutta High Court in the case of Pijush Kanti Ghosh v. Smt. Maya Rani Chatterjee, AIR 1971 Cal 229 is the one readily available. It has been observed there that an application made by one or more heirs of the deceased is maintainable even if other heirs are not impleaded, even in such a case the power of the Tribunal is not limited to awarding compensation in favour of applicants or to the extent of their shares and that a legal representative of the deceased applying for compensation and getting the same will had it not only on his own behalf but also as a trustee for other in the compensation. The obvious error committed by the Tribunal, therefore, deserves to be rectified and adequate compensation deserves to be given to the heirs who are here before me in these three appeals represented by their natural guardian, their mother.
5. The next question is what should be the total amount of compensation that is worthy to be awarded to these unfortunate dependants of a man, who was cut off in the prime of his life at the age of 45. It really pains me to note that even on this question, the approach of the learned Tribunal is too rigid and narrow. In the family of the deceased, who was the only ordinary member, there were in all eight members including himself. He was running his sundry business in a town and was making 'his both ends meet. On behalf of the claimants, it was alleged that the deceased was earning Rs. 500/- per month, but for want of any documentary evidence, the learned Tribunal put the figure of his monthly income at the minimum possible namely Rs. 300/- per month. As if this was not enough, the learned Tribunal thought that out of this amount of Rs. 300/-, 1/4th of the amount if not Rs. 75/-, must have been spent by the deceased on himself. In other words, the conclusion of the Tribunal is that the wife of the deceased, his mother and five children were allowed to keep their bodies and souI together in the meagre amount of Rs. 150/- at - the most. This does not sound in any way reasonable. A man having , as many as eight mouths to feed, would forsake his personal requirements in order to see that other members of his family get the bare minimum necessities of their life. However, as the learned Tribunal has taken that particular view. I would not disturb it. The second surprising aspect of the conclusion of the Tribunal is the taking of only 10 years' purchase. The deceased was only 45 years of age and as the learned Tribunal itself thinks, the deceased would have produced a financial benefit for 12 to 15 years more. As a matter of fact, the evidence bears out that his mother also was alive on the day the deceased expired. The father of the deceased died at the age of 82. So it can reasonably be inferred that the deceased would have at least the active and fruitful life up to 60 years in the minimum. The learned Tribunal, therefore, was frossly in error in employing the multiplier of 10 years and not 15. On that basis, the total amount that would be Rs. 27,000/-, to which the conventional figure of Rs. 3,000/- would be required to be added. So the total claim that was liable to be decreed was Rs. 30,000/- and not Rs.9,990/-. The reminder of the amount, therefore, that is Rs. 20,010/- will be required to be given additionally and this amount will be given additionally and this amount will be apportioned as follows Rs. 2000/- to Pravinkumar and Rs. 4,000/- to Arvind kumar, the respective appellants of Appeal No.372 of 1977. Rupees 5000/- each to Girdhar and Rajesh, the appellants of the Appeal No.373 of 1977 and Rs.4,010/- to Rashila alias Babyben, the appellant of first Appeal No.373 of !977.All the Respondent Nos.1 to 4 shall pay these amounts jointly and severally.
6. Mr. Nanavati, the learned Advocate for the respondents had very vehemently contended that there was no reason for this Court to take a view different from the one taken by the learned Tribunal on both the counts above. I regret, I cannot accept this plea. As far as the tenability of separate applications is concerned. I have clearly held above that the learned Tribunal had grossly erred in either not treating all application as tenable or treating the application No.29/74 as representing the claims of other claimants in other applications and should not have limited it to the one only for the realization of Rs. 9,990/-.A composite view of all the applications filed simultaneously on the same day and at the same time should have been taken. On the question of quantum of compensation also, I find that the amount of Rs. 30,000/- assessed by me is more in the side of stringency rather than on the side of liberality. An award as detailed above is to follow in the three appeals, which are hereby allowed as said above with proportionate costs throughout. These sums which are awarded shall bear the interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum from the date of application till realization. The Nazir of the trial court is directed to deposit the minor's amount with some Scheduled Bank and go on paying the amount of interest to the mother, their natural guardian and the Tribunal concerned on application of the guardian would also part with her requisite amount, if minor Rashila's marriage comes to be celebrated before she becomes major. The respective amounts shall be delivered to the respective amounts shall be delivered to the respective minor claimants as and when they attain majority. The Nazir of the trial court is directed not to debit any charges for rendering these services to the costs of administration of justice.
7. Order accordingly.