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Report No. 111

1.2. Judicial criticism.-

By way of example of defects in the present Act, we may refer to the following observations made in a Kerala case:1-

"The Fatal Accidents Act, placed on the statute book as early as 1855, is a trifle archaic in form and somewhat obsolescent in content, but Courts are called upon to enforce the statute as it is. Under the Indian Act, which is largely modelled on the English stature of 1846, brothers and sisters, are not entitled to rank as "dependants, although, in England, the mother country (I mean, of the statute), by section 2 of the Fatal Accidents Act, 1959, brother, sister, uncle and aunt of the deceased and the issue of such relatives have been inducted into the area of statutory dependency. The other progressive amendments to the English statute also have not been copied in our country. In one of the three suits we are concerned with, viz., O.S. No. 22 of 1965, plaintiffs 3, 4 and 5 are the two brothers and sisters of the deceased who, under the Indian Act, are not entitled to claim compensation.

Again, the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, states that "every such action or suit shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, parent and child, if any, of the person whose death shall have been so caused, and shall be brought by and in the name of the executor, administrator or representative of the person deceased. The Act also requires all the dependents to be named in the plaint. What happens, if all these dependents are not on record, although they are alive or the suit is brought by some but not for the benefit of the others also. Strictly speaking, the section visualised some sort of a representative action, but, where the suit is brought, not by the executor or administrator, but by some of the beneficiaries themselves, should "the suit be dismissed because the others are not on record?

That would be taking an extremely technical view and therefore an objection in that form, taken in two suits where the parents are alive, but not impleaded (nor claim made on their behalf), has been rightly overruled by the trial Court, although that does not mean that the plaintiffs should get the benefit of the compensation which should have gone to the parents had they (the parents) also claimed". Apart from the defects referred to in the Kerala judgment cited above, many others are revealed on a detailed study of the Act. We shall deal with them in due course. Before doing so, a few words regarding the nature of the legislation on the subject would be useful.

1. P.B. Kader v. Thatchamma, AIR 1970 Ker 241 (243).

The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 Back

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