Report No. 134
3.7.1. Need for making the provision for payment of 'funeral expenses' of the deceased workman more humane.-
The existing provision in regard to payment of 'funeral expenses' of the deceased workman who loses his life in the course of and arising out of his employment is embodied in sub-section (4) of section 8. In substance, it authorizes a payment of up to Rs. 50 in connection with funeral expenses which can be deducted from the compensation amount deposited by the employer.
It is evident therefrom that-
(1) there is no obligation to pay any amount for the funeral expenses of the deceased workman;
(2) the maximum amount which can be paid is Rs. 50; and
(3) the employer has the right to deduct such amount if paid from the compensation payable to the dependants of the deceased workman.
3.7.2. Whatever be the merits of this provision in the first quarter of the twentieth century when it was enacted, the need for exhibiting more compassion and making it more humane cannot be disputed in the dying decade of the century. Would it be too much to expect the employer to pay for the last rites of a workman who has lost his life in his employment to a reasonable extent?
For the sake of maintaining good relations with the workmen, but for whom the employer would not be able to run his hazardous business, if not in the name of milk of human kindness, the employer surely would not mind bearing such, expenses. In any case the community which takes pride in the socialist professions inscribed in indelible ink in the Preamble of its Constitution, and reflected in the "Directive Principles of State policy" enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution, cannot hesitate to impose such an obligation any longer.
3.7.3. It is accordingly strongly recommended that by virtue of a suitable amendment of the relevant previsions of the Act it should be provided that the employer may incur the actual funeral expenses of the deceased workman subject to an upper limit of a sum equivalent to two months' wages if so desired or may pay to the widow or the eldest major son or, in the absence of any of them, to the nearest kin of the deceased workman a sum equivalent to two months' wages for the funeral expenses of such workman on the very day of the demise of the workman concerned.
It should also be provided that such expenditure or payment will be over and above the employer's liability to deposit compensation in accordance with the other previsions of the Act. And that in case of the employer's failure to adopt any of the two alternative courses, over and above the compensation amount, a sum equivalent to two months' wages shall be deposited by the employer with the Commissioner for being paid to the dependants legally entitled thereto. And that such amount shall be recoverable from the employer under the Act in the same manner as the amount of compensation required to be deposited by him.