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Kamlabai Chintaman Vs. Divisional Superintendent, Central Railway, Nagpur - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.F.O.D. No. 2 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1971Bom200; [1973(26)FLR39]; 1971LabIC735; 1971MhLJ330
ActsWorkmen's Compensation Act, 1923 - Sections 3
AppellantKamlabai Chintaman
RespondentDivisional Superintendent, Central Railway, Nagpur
Appellant AdvocateS.N. Kherdekar, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateW.K. Sheorey, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....showed that there was causal connection between the death and the employment. in the course of his work, he was asked to mount a belt on a machine and start it and while mounting thereon he received a jerk and a shock and fell down and shortly afterwards died of heart failure. the learned judge there also discussed the english cases as well as the case decided by this court in (1954)illj614bom and the propositions laid down therein. this appeal, therefore, will have to fail......those duties as a driver accelerated his death because he must have been already suffering from a heart disease. we will therefore have to examine these contentions.6. we have a case of our own high court in : (1954)illj614bom . laxmibai v. chairman & trustees, bombay port trust, where chief justice chagla had delivered the judgment. he has dealt with section 3 of the workmen's compensation act somewhat in details after referring to several english cases. he was dealing with a case of a watchman employed by the port trust at its pumping station at carnac bunder, bombay. he was on night duty on the night of august 20, 1951, between 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at 1 a.m. on august 21 the deceased complained of pain in his chest and was asked to lie down. his condition deteriorate and at about 6 a.m......
Judgment:

1. Kamalabai the widow of the deceased Chintaman, a Railway Engine Driver, having been aggrieved by an order passed by the Commissioner. Workmen's Compensation, Wardha, come here in appeal. The appellant filed an application for compensation under Section 3 of the Workmen's Compensation Act. Her husband was driving a railway engine on duty on 1st of November, 1960. He was taking the Down Goods Train from Majri to Chanda and other places. At 10 A.M. he took charge of the Goods Train. After some detention and shunting he took the train to Bhandak. There they stopped for unloading and went to Tadali. There they did some shunting and were also detained and then they reached Chanda at 4 P.M. They had to unload some of the packages there. They completed the unloading some oil tanks were attached there. The engine was then going in reverse. Chintaman was driving it. At that time, the Assistant Station Master on duty informed the Guard that another Down Goods Train was passing through via the first loop and therefore, they had to stop their shunting. The Guard therefore, showed a red flag to the driver and cautioned him to stop. Chintaman stopped the engine but was anxious to know why he had stopped the work. He told the Guard that they should finish the shunting earlier, so that they could reach Ballarshah as early as possible. The Guard then explained to him why he had shown him the red flag. While Chintaman was taking to the Guard and the Guard was facing the other goods train which was coming. Chintaman sat down there and then collapsed. He expired before any medical help could be given to him. His body was taken for post mortem examination and the cause of death was found to be heart failure due to valvular incompetency and atheroma of the arteries.

2. The respondent Central Railway denied their liability but admitted that Chintaman was in the Railway service working as a railway engine driver. They admitted all the details mentioned by the appellant but pleaded that deceased Chintaman died a natural death because of the failure of his heart. According to them, a railway driver was expected to be on duty for twelve hours but Chintaman had actually completed only seven hours duty and according to them, there was no overstrain anywhere to him during the course of his working. They, therefore, say that there was no casual connection of the employment with the ultimate death.

3. The learned Commissioner framed the necessary issues on the pleadings of the parties and found that the accident did take place in the course of but not out of the employment of the deceased. He was not overstrained due to the working on the train and therefore, according to him, his heart failure was not on account of overwork. Accordingly, therefore, he dismissed the application filed by the appellant. The point, therefore, that arises here for consideration is to see whether any substantial question of law arises in this appeal.

4. It is common ground that the deceased Chintaman died as a result of heart failure. It is also common ground that the cause of death was heart failure due to valvular incompetency and atheroma of the arteries. It is also common ground that the deceased was driving the engine of the Goods Train at Chanda and was on duty. This accident, therefore, occurred at the time when he was on duty. The contest, however, is on the point whether this accident occurred out of the employment or not. Now, under Section 3 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, if personal injury is caused to a workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, his employer shall be liable to pay compensation. Although the term 'accident' has not been defined in the Act, yet it is now well settled that 'accident' generally means some unexpected event happening without design. To decide whether an occurrence is an accident, it must be regarded from naturally the point of view of the workman who suffered from it and if it is unexpected and without design on his part, it may be an accident though intentionally caused by the author of it or by some act committed wilfully by him. In this case, it was neither intentional nor wilful but it was certainly an accident. It can also be said to be an accident in the course of the employment. But the contest is whether it occurred out of his employment?

5. It would be better to know as to what exactly the deceased Chintaman had done that day before he died of his heart failure. According to the evidence of the Guard, the deceased took charge of the train on 1-11-1960, after going to Majri by a passenger train which left Wardha at 6.35 A.M. They went to Majri and stopped. The Guard says that upto Majri they did not do any work. When they reached Majri at 9.15 A.M. they started taking over the charge of the Goods Train and they took charge at 10 A.M. At Majri their Goods Train was detained for 2 3/4 hours. During this time they spent 50 minutes in shunting. The rest of the time was without any work. Then they went to Bhandak. There was no shunting. Then they went to Tadali. There they were detained for 2 1/2 hours and they did shunting for 55 minutes. The period of 2 1/2 hours therefore was without work. Then they reached Chanda at 4 P.M. The deceased Chintaman did some local work there for 20 minutes and after that he was taking the engine in reverse for detaching oil tanks. The oil tanks were detached. They again came to the platform line for attaching the brake-van to the train. At that time the Station Master informed the Guard that one Down Goods Train was passing through the first loop at that Station and therefore they had to stop shunting for some time. At that time the driver wanted to know the reason why the Guard stopped him and therefore he went to him but collapsed while talking to him. Now, therefore, all this history and the nature of the work which the driver did shows that there was nothing which could have strained him out of the way. But the learned Advocate for the appellant says that because he had performed his duties for 7 1/2 hours, therefore those duties as a driver accelerated his death because he must have been already suffering from a heart disease. We will therefore have to examine these contentions.

6. We have a case of our own High Court in : (1954)ILLJ614Bom . Laxmibai v. Chairman & Trustees, Bombay Port Trust, where Chief Justice Chagla had delivered the judgment. He has dealt with Section 3 of the Workmen's Compensation Act somewhat in details after referring to several English cases. He was dealing with a case of a watchman employed by the Port Trust at its pumping station at Carnac Bunder, Bombay. He was on night duty on the night of August 20, 1951, between 7 P.M. to 7 A.M. At 1 A.M. on August 21 the deceased complained of pain in his chest and was asked to lie down. His condition deteriorate and at about 6 A.M. he died. The medical evidence showed that the deceased was suffering from heart disease and that the death was brought about by the strain caused by the deceased being on his legs for a certain period of time. The question whether the watchman died of injury by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment was then considered by this Court. While dealing with the conditions that have got to be satisfied, viz., that the accident arose in the course of the employment of the workman and that the accidental injury must arise out of the employment. Mr. Justice Chagla recapitulated this expression which had led to the judicial discussion in England and observed as follows:--

'Where as 'in the course of employment' emphasises the time when accidental injury was caused, 'out of employment' emphasises that there must be a causal connection between the employment and the accidental injury......'

The learned Chief Justice recapitulated the medical evidence before him which established that the deceased died as a result of the strain caused upon his heart by the particular work that the deceased was doing, viz., having to stand on his legs and having to move about as a watchman looking after the pumping station belonging to the Port Trust and, in that view, the learned Chief Justice held that the workman died as a result of an accident which he did not design or intend. Although it was clear because of the facts and circumstances of the case that the deceased died in the course of his employment, it was disputed that the death did not arise out of the employment of the deceased. The learned Chief Justice, therefore, considered the question whether there was or there was no casual connection between the death of the deceased and his employment. While discussing this question, the learned Chief Justice observed as follows:--

'.....The authorities again are clear that if the workman died as a natural result of the disease from which he was suffering then it could not be said that his death was caused out of his employment. The authorities also have gone to this length that if a workman is suffering from a particular disease and as a result of wear and tear of his employment he dies of that disease, no liability would be fixed upon the employer. But it is equally clearly established that if the employment is a contributory cause, or if the employment has accelerated the death, or if it could be said that the death was due not only to the disease but the disease coupled with the employment, then the employer would be liable and if could he said that the death arose out of the employment of the deceased......'

Therefore, it is clear that in all cases where a workman dies in the course of his employment, he cannot be given compensation. It may be that he died or got injury in the course of his employment. But in order to see whether he got the accidental injury in the course of his employment, we have to see whether there is clear and unequivocal evidence that the deceased died because of a particular strain during the course of his duties. It is not enough if it is shown that the workman died as a natural result of the disease from which he was suffering. It is not even enough if it is shown that if a workman was suffering from a particular disease and as a result of wear and tear of his employment he died of that disease; the appellant will have to show that the deceased died not only because of the heart disease from which he was suffering but also because of some contributory cause on account of his employment or his duties which he was performing at Chanda or between Majri and Chanda. The evidence here, in my view does not show any causal connection between the death of the deceased driver and his employment. We have seen that he took charge of the Goods Train at about 10 A.M. at Majri. He actually rested there for about 2 hours. Then he did his normal duties. Then he rested also at other intermediate Stations. After he came to Chanda, he did some work. He merely walked to the Guard merely to find out why he had shown the red flag to stop his engine. While talking to him he collapsed. All these circumstances, therefore, clearly show that there was no causal connection between the death of Chintaman and his employment. The evidence is clear and unequivocal that the deceased died a natural death and not on account of any particular strain which he had on account of his employment.

7. In another case, Bai Diva Kaluji v. Silver Cotton Mills Ltd., : (1956)ILLJ740Bom , the Division Bench of our High Court was dealing with a workman suffering from a heart disease. He worked in a mill on a hot day for eight hours and died. That was a case in which Dr. Vaidya one of the medical man who was examined gave his opinion that because the workman worked on a hot day in the mill, his death was accelerated because he was suffering from the heart disease. Therefore, on evidence there, it was held that the worker was suffering from the heart disease and because he worked for eight hours on a hot day, it caused strain and accelerated his death. The learned Advocate for the appellant here relies upon this case. But, in my view, the facts there clearly showed that there was causal connection between the death and the employment.

8. That is also the view held by the High Court of Madras in Madras State Electricity Board v. Ambazhathingal Ithachutti Umma, (1966) 2 Lab LJ 12 . In another case in : (1956)IILLJ21Bom , Mrs. Fernandes v. B.P. (India) Ltd., also, this Court held the same view, viz. there should be causal connection between the death of the workman and his employment. It is only then that it could be said that the injury arose out of the employment. The Madhya Pradesh High Court in : (1959)IILLJ65MP , Parvatibai v. Manager, Rajkumar Mills, Indore, was also considering the case of a jobber. In the course of his work, he was asked to mount a belt on a machine and start it and while mounting thereon he received a jerk and a shock and fell down and shortly afterwards died of heart failure. The learned Judge there also discussed the English cases as well as the case decided by this Court in : (1954)ILLJ614Bom and the propositions laid down therein. The Commissioner there had rejected the application of the appellant. The learned Judge agreed with the view of the Commissioner because he was convinced on evidence that there was no causal connection between the employment and the accident and 'employment' according to the learned Judge, was not a contributory cause in that case.

9. It appears to me, therofre, that this is a case in which the appellant has not been able to establish any causal connection between the accidental injury and the death of the deceased. This appeal, therefore, will have to fail. I, therefore, dismiss this appeal with costs.

10. Appeal dismissed.


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