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Ningavva Vs. Basappa Sanganabasappa Meti and Others - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKarnataka Dharwad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC/W. MFA Nos. 4536, 4539, 4537, 4538 of 2008
Judge
AppellantNingavva
RespondentBasappa Sanganabasappa Meti and Others
Excerpt:
.....passed by labour officer and commissioner fastening liability on first and third respondent to compensate claimants by exonerating insurance company, they have filed these appeals and also seeking enhancement of compensation. court held pursuant to direction issued by this court, wcc re-examined matters afresh and after re-appreciating oral and documentary evidence held that deceased and injured claimants were not working as coolies in tractor and trailer belonging to first and third respondent insurance company is not liable to compensate claimants claimants were travelling as unauthorised passengers in offending tractor and trailer to do agricultural work in land belonging to first respondent, liability was fastened on first and third respondent to compensate claimants no..........of the deceased smt.tippawwa holageri, and the claimants in wca/f nos.24/2001 and 26/2001 are the injured-claimants. they have filed the claim petition contending that smt.renawwa parasappa madar and smt.tippawwa holageri and the claimants in wca/f nos.24/2001 and 26/2001 were working as coolies in the tractor bearing registration no.ka-29/t-747 belonged to the first respondent and the trailer bearing registration no.ka-29/m-456 belonged to third respondent herein. on 04.05.2000, as per the instructions of the owner of the vehicle, while they were proceeding towards hulaginal to sirur village for the purpose of coolie work, the driver of the tractor and trailer drove the said vehicle in a rash and negligent manner on hunagund bagalkot road. due to that, near doddannavar mines, the.....
Judgment:

(Prayer: This MFA is filed u/s 30(1) of W.C. Act against the Judgment and Order dated 27/12/2007 passed in WCA/F-24/2001 on the file of the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen Compensation, Bagalkot, partly allowing the claim petition for compensation and seeking enhancement of compensation.)

1. Appellants are the claimants. Being aggrieved by the judgment and order dated 27.12.2007 passed by the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmens Compensation, Bagalkot (hereinafter referred to as the WCC for short) in WCA/F Nos.22/2001, 23/2001, 24/2004 and 26/2001 respectively, fastening the liability on respondent Nos.1 and 3 to compensate the claimants by exonerating the Insurance Company, they have filed these appeals and also seeking enhancement of compensation.

2. The common judgment and order passed by the WCC has been challenged in all these appeals. Hence, all the appeals are clubbed together and disposed of by this common judgment.

3. The claimants in WCA/F No.22/2001 are the daughters of the deceased Renawwa Parasappa Madar, who died in the road traffic accident, which occurred on 04.05.2000. The claimant in WCA/F No.23/2001 is the husband of the deceased Smt.Tippawwa Holageri, and the claimants in WCA/F Nos.24/2001 and 26/2001 are the injured-claimants. They have filed the claim petition contending that Smt.Renawwa Parasappa Madar and Smt.Tippawwa Holageri and the claimants in WCA/F Nos.24/2001 and 26/2001 were working as coolies in the tractor bearing registration No.KA-29/T-747 belonged to the first respondent and the trailer bearing registration No.KA-29/M-456 belonged to third respondent herein. On 04.05.2000, as per the instructions of the owner of the vehicle, while they were proceeding towards Hulaginal to Sirur village for the purpose of coolie work, the driver of the tractor and trailer drove the said vehicle in a rash and negligent manner on Hunagund Bagalkot road. Due to that, near Doddannavar Mines, the said tractor and trailer turned turtle. Smt.Renawwa Parasappa Madar and Smt.Tippawwa Holageri sustained grievous injuries and died on the spot. The other two claimants sustained grievous injuries and they were shifted to the Government Hospital, Bagalkot, wherein they had taken treatment. At the time of accident, Smt.Renawwa was aged about 30 years, Smt.Tippawwa was aged about 32 years and other two claimants were aged about 30 years. The owner of the vehicle was paying each of them salary of Rs.2,500/- per month. In view of the injuries sustained and the permanent disability suffered, they cannot do the work as coolies. The accident occurred during the course and out of employment. The insurance policy was in force as on the date of accident. All the claimants sought for compensation from the Insurance Company as well as the owner of the vehicle.

4. In response to the notice issued by the WCC, the respondents entered appearance. The first respondent filed his written statement and the third respondent adopted the same. The first respondent in the written statement contended that the deceased and the injured persons were working as coolies in the tractor and trailer belonging to the first and third respondents. The owner of the vehicle was paying them salary of Rs.2,500/- per month. On 04.05.2000, while they were travelling in the said tractor and trailer for coolie work, the vehicle met with an accident and turned turtle. As on the date of accident, the insurance policy covers the risk of the offending vehicle. Hence, the Insurance Company is liable to compensate the claimants.

5. Respondent Nos.2 and 4 in their written statement contended that the deceased and the injured were not working as coolies in the tractor and trailer belonging to respondent Nos.1 and 3. There is no relationship of master and servant between them. While they were travelling in the said tractor and trailer as unauthorised passengers towards Sirur village, the vehicle met with an accident. The Police records clearly discloses that 57 persons were travelling in the said tractor and trailer and in view of the accident 53 persons have sustained grievous injuries and 4 persons died on the spot. At any stretch of imagination, those 57 persons travelling in the tractor and trailer cannot be treated as workmen within the meaning of Section 2(1)(n) of the Employees Compensation Act. Further, the owner of the vehicle himself admitted that as on the date of accident, all these persons were travelling from Hulaginal to Sirur village to do agricultural work in the land owned by the owner of the tractor and trailer. Hence, those persons cannot be treated as workmen under the Workmens Compensation Act. No document has been produced to show that the deceased persons and the injured persons were working as coolies in the tractor and trailer belonging to the first and third respondents. Hence, they sought for dismissal of the claim petitions.

6. On the basis of pleadings of the parties, the WCC framed the necessary issues.

7. The claimants in order to prove their case, the daughters of deceased Renawwa were examined as PW1 and PW2, the husband of Tippawwa was examined as PW3, the injured persons were examined as PW4 and PW5 and also examined the Doctor as PW6. They got marked the documents as Exs.P1 to P13. On behalf of respondent Nos.1 and 3, none of the witnesses were examined. However, on behalf of respondent Nos.2 and 4 Sri.M.S.Pai was examined as RW1 and Sri.Shambu Halagundagi was examined as RW2. 8. It is relevant to mention here that on an earlier occasion, the WCC without examining the contention raised by the Insurance Company allowed the claim petitions filed by the claimants. Being aggrieved by the same, the Insurance Company filed MFA Nos.3590/2003, 3591/2003, 3594/2003 and 3596/2003 challenging the judgment and order passed by the WCC. This Hon ble Court by its judgment and order dated 01.03.2006 allowed the said appeals, quashing the order passed by the WCC and remitted the matters for reconsideration with a direction to pass fresh orders in accordance with law. Further, against the judgment and order passed in WCA/F Nos.46/2000 and 47/2000, the Insurance Company has filed appeals in MFA Nos.826/2002 and 827/2002, which came to be allowed and remanded for reconsideration by this Court on 28.02.2006. After the remand, the WCC had taken up the matters afresh and given opportunity to all the parties. After re-appreciating the oral and documentary evidence let in by the parties held that the claimants have failed to prove that they were workmen working as coolies in the offending tractor and trailer belonging to the first and third respondents.

9. In the present case, after remand of the case from this Hon ble Court, after re-appreciating oral and documentary evidence, the WCC held that as on the date of accident, they were travelling in the said tractor and trailer to go to Sirur village for the purpose of agricultural work. In addition to that the injured and the deceased along with 53 other persons were also travelling in the said tractor and trailer. Hence, the persons travelling in the tractor and trailer cannot be treated as workmen. Hence, the claimants have failed to prove that they are workmen working as coolies in the tractor and trailer belonging to the first and third respondents.

10. With regard to quantum of compensation is concerned, the WCC taking into consideration the income of the deceased as well as the injured-claimants as Rs.1,800/- per month taking into consideration 50% and 60% thereof respectively and applying the relevant factor having regard to their age, awarded a sum of Rs.1,87,182/- in WCA/F/22/2007, a sum of Rs.1,65,753/- in WCA/F/23/2007, a sum of Rs.89,847/- in WCA/F/24/2007 and a sum of Rs.85,129/- in WCA/F/26/2007 respectively. Since the claimants have failed to prove that they are workmen within the meaning of Section 2(1)(n) of the Employees Compensation Act, the liability was fastened on Respondents 1 and 3 to compensate the claimants.

11. Being aggrieved by the judgment and order passed by the WCC, the claimants have preferred these appeals, inter alia contending that the judgment and order passed by the WCC fastening the liability on the owner of the vehicle and exonerating the Insurance Company is contrary to law. Further, taking into consideration the income of the deceased as well as the injured claimants as Rs.1,800/- p.m., while awarding compensation is on the lower side and hence sought for enhancement of compensation.

12. On the other hand, Sri.N.R.Kuppelur, learned advocate appearing for Respondents 2 and 4 argued the matter in support of the judgment and order passed by the WCC and contended that as on the date of accident, 57 persons were travelling in the said Tractor and Trailer to go to Sirur village for the purpose of agricultural work. The complaint-Ex.P2 filed before the jurisdictional police by one Shanthappa S/o.Balappa clearly disclose that on 04.05.2000, the complainant along with other persons were proceeding towards Sirur village for the coolie work i.e. for harvesting the ground nut crops. While proceeding towards Sirur village, due to the rash and negligent driving of the Tractor and Trailer by its driver, the vehicle met with an accident, on account of which, Renawwa Parasappa Madar, Tippawwa Holageri died on the spot and other persons were injured. Immediately after the accident, the injured were shifted to Bagalkot Government Hospital. Further, the mahazar report clearly discloses that on 04-05-2000, due to the rash and negligent driving of the Tractor and Trailer, the vehicle met with an accident, 53 persons travelling in the said tractor and trailer were injured and 4 persons died on the spot. The owner of the vehicle in his written statement has clearly admitted that the claimants and deceased were working as coolies in his agricultural field and while they were travelling from Hulaginala to Sirur village for the purpose of agricultural work, the Tractor and Trailer met with an accident. These documents clearly disclose that the claimants were not working as coolies in the offending Tractor and Trailer belonging to Respondent Nos.1 and 3. On the other hand, the Tractor and Trailer is being used to transport the coolies from Hulaginala to Sirur village to harvest the ground nut crops. There is no infirmity or irregularity in the judgment and order passed by the WCC by fastening the liability on the owner of the Tractor and Trailer and exonerating the Insurance Company. With regard to quantum of compensation is concerned, learned counsel for the Insurance Company contended that the accident occurred on 4-5-2000 i.e. much prior to the amendment of Section 4A coming into force on 8-12-2000. Prior to the amendment, the ceiling limit was Rs.2,000/- p.m., whereas the WCC had taken the salary of the deceased and injured persons as Rs.1,800/- p.m., taking 50% thereof in case of death 60% in case of injured and applying the relevant factors having regard to their age, has awarded just and fair compensation. Hence, sought for dismissal of the appeals filed by the claimants.

13. I have carefully considered the arguments addressed by the learned counsel for the parties and perused the impugned judgment and order, oral and documentary evidence.

14. The records clearly disclose that the mother of the claimants in WCA/F-22/2001, wife of the claimant in WCA/F-23/2001 and claimants in WCA/F Nos.24 and 26/2001 were travelling from Hulaginala to Sirur village for the purpose of harvesting the ground nut crops in the Tractor and Trailer belonging to Respondent Nos.1 and 3 insured with Respondent Nos.2 and 4. Due to the rash and negligent driving of the said Tractor and Trailer and also due to over-crowd in the Tractor and Trailer, the vehicle turned turtle. The records also clearly disclose that totally 57 persons were travelling in the said Tractor and Trailer. In view of the accident, 4 persons travelling in the said Tractor and Trailer died on the spot and other 53 persons were injured. They had taken treatment in the District Hospital at Bagalkot. The legal representatives of the deceased as well as the injured claimants filed claim petitions contending that they were working as coolies in the offending Tractor and Trailer belonging to Respondent Nos.1 and 3 and insured with Respondent Nos.2 and 4.

15. The insurance companies defended their case stating that there is no master and servant relationship between the deceased and injured and the owner of the offending Tractor and Trailer. The Police record clearly discloses that as on the date of accident, i.e. on 04-05-2000, 57 persons were travelling in the Tractor and Trailer, which met with an accident, resulting in death of 4 persons and injuries to 53 persons. Hence, those 57 persons travelling in the Tractor and Trailer cannot be treated as workmen falling within the meaning of Section 2(1)(n) of the Employees Compensation Act. The owner of the vehicle in their written statement had clearly admitted that 57 persons were travelling from Hulaginala to Sirur village for harvesting the ground nut crops belonging to Respondent No.1. Nowhere in the written statement they have stated that the deceased and injured persons working as coolies in the Tractor and Trailer belonging to them. The complaint-Ex.P2 filed before the jurisdictional police also clearly discloses that all these persons were travelling in the said Tractor and Trailer to go to Sirur village for harvesting the ground nut crops and there is no mention that the deceased and injured persons were working as hamals in the Tractor and Trailer belonging to respondent Nos.1 and 3. Except the self-assertion, no document has been produced to show that they were working in the Tractor and Trailer belonging to Respondents No.1 and 3. On an earlier occasion, the judgment and order dated 12-12-2012 passed by the WCC was set aside in the appeals filed by the Insurance Company in MFA Nos.3590/2003, 3591/2003, 3594/2003 and 3596/2003 and the matters were remanded to the WCC to reconsider afresh and to pass orders in accordance with law. Pursuant to the direction issued by this Court, the WCC re-examined the matters afresh and after re-appreciating the oral and documentary evidence held that the deceased and injured claimants were not working as coolies in the Tractor and Trailer belonging to Respondent Nos.1 and 3. Hence, the Insurance Company is not liable to compensate the claimants. Since the claimants were travelling as unauthorised passengers in the offending Tractor and Trailer to do the agricultural work in the land belonging to Respondent No.1, the liability was fastened on Respondent Nos.1 and 3 to compensate the claimants. I find there is no infirmity or irregularity in the finding recorded by the WCC in this regard.

16. With regard to quantum of compensation is concerned, the accident occurred much prior to coming into force of the amended Act i.e. on 8-12-2000. Prior to the amendment to Section 4A of the Employees Compensation Act, the ceiling limit was Rs.2,000/-. The WCC taking into consideration the income of the deceased at Rs.1,800/- p.m., awarded compensation which is in accordance with law. The amended Act, which came into force on 8-12-2000 is only prospective in operation and it will not apply to the accident occurred on 4-5-2000. Hence, the compensation awarded is also in accordance with law. The judgment and order passed by the WCC in both the aspect of the matter is in accordance with law. The appellants have not made out a case to interfere with the judgment and order passed by the WCC. Accordingly, all the appeals are dismissed.


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