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Report No. 62

4.8. Section 8(5) and effect of death.-

Then there is another question which arises out of section 8(5). Compensation is to be apportioned by an order of the Commissioner to one or more dependants. What is to happen when a dependant dies after the death of the workman and before apportionment? What is the nature of his right? This question has created some difficulty. For example, in a Calcutta ease1, an argument was put forth by the employer that no right could accrue in favour of a dependant at all till the enquiry is finished by the Commissioner and the distribution order is made.

If therefore the dependant dies before the distribution order is made, the compensation should be refunded-that was the contention. This contention was held to be not tenable. The court held that it was true that section 3 which imposes the liability upon the employer to pay compensation does not specify the person or persons to whom it is payable but section 8 makes it clear that nobody has any right to it except the dependants and this is the case whether the compensation is paid direct or through the Commissioner. In certain cases the compensation has to be deposited with the Commissioner and this is for ensuring proper distribution. The High Court observed:

"In my view, 'dependant' in section 8 includes the heirs or legal representatives of the dependant as defined by section 2, where the dependant has died since the death of the workman."

1. Pasupnthi Dutta v. Kelvin Jute Mills, AIR 1937 Cal 495 (497).

4.9. The High Court pointed out that the compensation is to be deposited with the Commissioner for safe custody and equitable distribution, particularly when there are more dependants than one, but though the Commissioner has got the entire discretion in the matter and can allot the entire amount to one dependant, he cannot deprive the sole dependant of any portion of the compensation nor can he give any portion of the same to one who is not a dependant.

Workmens Compensation Act, 1923 Back

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