The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, in a recent judgment, enhanced the compensation awarded to one Raiwantbai Sardare, widow and legal heir of deceased Ramdas Sardare, who was working for the Nagpur Municipal Corporation as drainage cleaner.
Ramdas died on March 11, 1996, at the age of 67 while he was performing his duty behind St. John’s High School in Nagpur.
Thereafter, his widow filed a claim petition before the commissioner under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, seeking a compensation of Rs. 1,28,300.
After appreciation of her evidence, including the fact that Ramdas was being paid a monthly salary of Rs. 2,940, the commissioner calculated the amount of compensation she would be entitled to as being Rs. 1,88,645.
However, he also recorded in his order dated July 24, 2003, that since Raiwantbai had sought compensation of Rs. 1,28,300, she would be entitled to the same only, nothing more. Thus, he directed the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to pay the said amount to Ramdas’ widow.
Consequently, an appeal against this order of the commissioner was filed.
Justice Shalin Phansalkar Joshi accepted the argument submitted by Raiwantbai’s lawyer, Akash Sorte that simply because the appellant had claimed a certain amount, does not mean she should not get the amount she is actually entitled to.
Justice Joshi said: “It is the duty of the Commissioner under Workmen's Compensation, to award the amount of compensation which is just, adequate and fair and which amount the claimant is found entitled to get under the statute and not that amount which the claimant demands or does not demand. The Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation has thus, failed in his duty in not awarding the reasonable amount of compensation to which the Commissioner has held the appellant entitled to, that is the amount of Rs. 1,88,645.”
Another aspect that was part of the appeal was that the commissioner has awarded the penalty of 25 per cent only, whereas as per Section 4A(B) of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the Commissioner can, apart from the arrears and interest thereon, grant upto 50 per cent of the said amount.
However, the court accepted the respondent corporation’s argument in this aspect.
It was argued by the corporation’s lawyer AM Kukde that under Section 4A(3B), the commissioner can choose to pay 50 per cent as penalty when it is determined that there was no justification for delay in awarding the compensation. However, in this case, the application claiming compensation was filed 15 months after Ramdas’ death.
As a result, the appeal was partly allowed and the compensation was enhanced to Rs. 1,88,645 with 12 per cent interest from the date of application till realisation with 25 per cent penalty on the said amount of compensation.