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Mohanlal Prabhuram Vs. Fine Knitting Mills Co. Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Appln. No. 1738 of 1957
Judge
Reported in(1960)62BOMLR195; [1960(1)FLR156]; (1960)ILLJ439Bom
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 115; Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 - Sections 3
AppellantMohanlal Prabhuram
RespondentFine Knitting Mills Co. Ltd.
Appellant AdvocateM.A. Rane, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateVithalbhai B. Patel, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....act (viii of 1923) - civil procedure code (act v of 1908), section 115--commissioner under workmen's compensation act whether court subordinate to high court--whether revision application from order of commissioner lies to high court.;the commissioner under the workmen's compensation act, 1923, is a court subordinate to the high court, and consequently a revision application lies to the high court from the order of the commissioner.;spring mills, ltd. v. ambekar (1947) 51 bom. l.r. 148, mussammat dirji v. srimati goalin [1941] pat. 373, f.b., dirji v. goalin [1942] a.i.r. patna 33, balkrishna daji v. the collector, bombay suburban (1923) i.l.r. 47 bom. 699, s.c. 25 bom. l.r. 398, abdul rashid v. hanuman oil & rice mill [1951] a.i.r. assam 88 and firm g.d. gianchand v. abdul..........company ltd., at ahmedabad. on 29-7-1955, they made applications before the commissioner under the workmen's compensation act, stating that they received personal injuries by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment. they stated known persons who were instigated by one meghasing on behalf of the company. the applicant deoshankar had a fracture on his hand. the applicants were removed to the civil hospital. deoshankar had a swelling on his right ankle, and mohanlal had a fracture on his hand. the applicants were removed to the civil hospital. deoshankar was discharge on 4-8-1955, and mohanlal was discharged on 24-10-1955. the monthly wages of deoshankar amounted to rs. 110/- and those of mohanlal amounted to rs. 120/-. mohanlal claimed rs. 176/-. it is not necessary to.....
Judgment:

(1) This purports to be an application in revision under section 115 of the C. P. C. from the order of the Ex-officio Commissioner for Workman's Compensation, Ahmedabad the material facts may be briefly stated as follows:

One Deoshankar and another Mohanlal were working in the Fine Knitting Mills Company Ltd., at Ahmedabad. On 29-7-1955, they made applications before the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act, stating that they received personal injuries by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment. They stated known persons who were instigated by one Meghasing on behalf of the company. The applicant Deoshankar had a fracture on his hand. The applicants were removed to the Civil Hospital. Deoshankar had a swelling on his right ankle, and Mohanlal had a fracture on his hand. The applicants were removed to the Civil Hospital. Deoshankar was discharge on 4-8-1955, and Mohanlal was discharged on 24-10-1955. The monthly wages of Deoshankar amounted to Rs. 110/- and those of Mohanlal amounted to Rs. 120/-. Mohanlal claimed Rs. 176/-. It is not necessary to state the claim made by Deoshankar because he has not come up in revision. The Mill opposed the applications and contended that he applicants did not receive injuries by accident arising out of or in the course of this quarrel that they received the injuries. The Commissioner, believing the evidence of one Shivprased, who was examined for the Mill, held that the applicants had failed to prove that they received injuries by accident arising out of and in the course of their employment. From that decision, Mohanlal alone has come up in revision.

(2) Mr. Patel for the opponent raised a preliminary objection contending that the revision application was not competent. In this connection, he relied upon a decision of this Court reported in Spring Mills Ltd. v. G. D. Ambedkar, 51 Bom LR 148 : AIR 1949 Bom 188. This decision related to the question as to whether an application in revision would lie from the decision given by the authority appointed under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. In the course of their judgment, however. Their Lordships, relying upon an unreported decision of the Division Bench in Trustees of the Port of Bombay v. Bhima Raoji, (Civil Revn. Appln. No. 255 of 1926 Bom), observed at p. 152 of Bom LR: (at p. 191 of AIR) as follows:

'That was a decision given so long ago as January 11, 1927, by Mr. Justice Fawcett and Mr. Justice Patkar. In a short judgment they stated:

'We think it is clear that the Commissioner under the Workman's Compensation Act, VIII of 1923, is not a Court within the meaning of S. 115, C.P.C. Sir. Thomas Strangman for the applicant has frankly conceded that this is so, and has drawn our attention to the provisions which supports that proposition. In particular those of sub-section (2) of S. 19 and Ss. 23 and 27 seem to me practically conclusive on the point.'

In order to appreciate this objection, it is necessary, first of all, to refer to some of the provisions ofthe Workmen's Compensation Act, Section 20 the Workmen's Compensation Act gives authority to the State Government to appoint a Commission for workmen's compensation for such local area as may be specified in the notification. The powers of the Commissioner have been specified in section 22. Section 23 in substance provides that the Commissioner shall have all the powers of a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure for the purpose of taking evidence on oath (which such Commissioner is empowered to impose) and of enforcing attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents and material objects. (and the Commissioner shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for all purposes such as section 195 and of Ch. XXXV of the Cr. P. C., 1898). Section 30 provides for appeals and lays down that an appeal shall lie to the High Court from the decisions enumerated at clauses (a) to (e). The first proviso, in effect lays down that no appeal shall lie against any order unless the amount in dispute in the appeal is not less than three hundred rupees. The only other section to which reference need be made is section 27, which lays down that the Commissioner may, if he thinks fit, submit any question of law for the decision of the High Court, and if he does so, shall decide the question in confirmity with such decisions. The question as to whether a Commissioner appointed under the Workman's Compensation Act is a Court or a persona designata was decided by the Full Bench of the Patna High Court in Mt. Diril v. Smt. Goalin. : AIR1941Pat65 . In that case. Their Lordships pointed out that:

'there is no necessary antithesis between the expressions `persona designata' and `Court'; in other words, even a persona designata may be a Court. Whether he is a Court or not depends upon his powers and the functions which he has to discharge.'

Their Lordships referred to the provisions of Ss. 23, 27 and also 30 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, which have been set out above and came to the conclusion that a Commissioner appointed under the Workmen's Compensation Act is a Court. After the decision of the Full Bench of the same Court for the decision of the question as to whether the Commissioner, who according to the Full Bench decision is a Court can be regarded as a Court subordinate to the High Court. That decision is reported in Mt. Dirji v. Smt. Goalin. : AIR1942Pat33 . Relying on a decision of the Bombay High Court in Balakrishna Daji v. Collector , Bombay Suburban ILR 47 Bom 699 : AIR 1923 Bom 290. Their Lordships held that a Court is subordinate to the High Court if appeals from the decisions of that Court are made to lie to the High Court. Applying this criterion. Their Lordships took the view that a Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act is a Court subordinate to the High Court and as such his decisions are liable to be revised under section 115 of the C. P. C. The Assam High Court in Abdul Rasid v. Hanuman Oil and Rice Mill. AIR 1951 GUA 88, has followed the decision of the Patna High Court in Firm G. D. Gianchand v. Abdul Hamid, AIR 1938 Lah 855. It will thus be seen that the preponderance of authority is in favour of the view that the Commissioner is a Court and a Court subordinate to the High Court. The test laid down in ILR 47 Bom 699 : AIR 1923 Bom 290, in considering the question as to whether a revision application lies, is that unless the High Court has appellate jurisdiction over a Court, that Court will not be subordinate to the High Court. In view of the provisions of Section 90, under which appeals in certain cases are made to lie to the High Court, it is clear that the High Court exercises appellate jurisdiction over the Commissioner appointed under the Workmen's Compensation Act. As against this, Mr. Patel sought to rely to certain observations contained in 51 Bom LR 148: AIR 1949 Bom 188, which have been set out above. The actual decision in the case related to the question as to whether the authority appointed under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, was a Court of civil jurisdiction within the meaning of section 115 of the C. P. C. and Their Lordships held that the authority under that Act provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act, and also referred to the decision of the Patna High Court cited above, and pointed out that the decision of the Patna High Court stood in conflict with he decision of the Division Bench in Civil Revn. Appln. No. 255 of 1926 (Bom). It is however, interesting to note that in the unreported ever, interesting to note that in the unreported case. Sir Thomas Strangman for the applicant conceded that the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act is not a Court within the meaning of section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It is thus evident that the decision based on the concession made by the learned advocate for the applicant. The question does not appear to have been fully discussed and thrashed out. It is, also interesting to note the observations made by their Lordships at p. 153 of Bom LR: (at p. 191-192 of AIR) in Spring Mills Ltd. v. G. D. Ambedkar to the effect that it was not safe to apply the decisions with respect to the Workmen's Compensation Act to the construction of a statute like the Payment of Wages Act. Their Lordships also pointed out that the Workmen's Compensation Act created new rights and established special tribunals; that was not the case under the Payment of Wages Act. They also pointed out that the Workmen's Compensation At provides an appeal to the High Court in certain cases, while there is no such appeal provided under the Commissioner in submitting a case to the High Court. It is on these grounds that they observed that what applies to the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act would not necessarily apply to the authority under the Payment of Wages Act. It is thus evident that, that in the first place, the decision in 51 Bom LR 148 : AIR 1949 Bom 188 is not directly on the point, and in the second place, the observations contained in p. 152 of Bom LR: (at p. 191 of AIR) thereof, on which strong reliance has been placed by Mr. Patel, are based on a judgment in which the position was conceded by the counsel. Finally the authority of that decision in so far as it is sought to be applied to the case of a Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act is weakened by the observations contained at p. 153 of Bom LR: (at pp. 191-192 of AIR) referred to above. In this view of the case, following the decisions of the Patna and Assam High Courts. I hold that the Commissioner under the Workmen's Compensation Act is a Court subordinate to the High Court. Consequently, a revision application lies to the High Court from the order of the Commissioner.

(3) Turning to the merits of the claim, on behalf of the two applicants. Deoshankar was the only witness who was examined. He stated that he and Mohanlal were assaulted by Meghasing, operating in the Dyeing Department of the Opponent Mills and three unknown persons when they were working in the Press building Department. He further stated that the assault was sudden and unprovocated. This evidence was disbelieved by the Commissioner on the ground that Shivprasad the reling clerk of the Mills, stated that the workers of the Dyeing Department had brought yarn to the building department and the applicants objected to it, and therefore, a quarrel ensued. I have been shown a certified copy of the statement made by Shivprasad, and I find that nowhere in his deposition he has made the kind of statement which has been attributed to him by the Commissioner in his order. On the other hand, he stated: 'After the incident, I learnt that a quarrel had taken place between the applicants on the one hand and Megasing and others on the other hand.' In his cross-examination, he stated: 'I went there when the quarrel was going on.' Thus, it is clear that Shivprasad had no personal knowledge and whatever he stated about the quarrel was based on hear-say. It may that he went to the place whenthe quarrel was in progrss. In any case, it is clear from the statement that he was not present at the time when the quarrel commenced. He is not, therefore, in a position to say as that how the quarrel started and by whom. Deoshankar has emphatically asserted that it was artising and three other person, who accompanied him assaulted him. It is, therefore, clear that the finding of the Commissioner is not only without evidence, but is opposed to the evidence led in this case. That finding, therefore will have to be upset.

(4) Then Mr. Patel contended that even if the evidence of Deoshankar is accepted in full, still, it does not disclose that the injuries were caused to the petitioner as a result of an accident which occurred to him in the course of his employment. For this purpose, Mr. Patel sought reliance upon certain observations made by the learned Chief Justice Chagla in Bhagubai v. General Manager, Central Rly., : AIR1955Bom105 . These observations are to the following effect.

'Now, it is clear that there must be a causal connection between the accident and the employment in order that the Court can say that the accident arose out of the employment of the deceased. It is equally clear that the cause contemplated is the proximate cause and not any remote cause. The authorities have clearly laid down that if the employee in the course of his employment has to be in a particular place he has to face a peril and which he has to face, that a causal connection is established between the accident and the employment. It is now well settled that the fact that the employee shares that peril with other members of the public is an irrelevant consideration. It is true that the peril which he faces must not be something personal to him; the peril must be incidental to his employment. It is also clear that he must not by his own act add to the peril which he faces has nothing to do with his own action or his own conduct, but it is a peril which would have been faced by any other employee or any other member of the public, then if the accident arises out of such peril, a causal connection is established between the employment and the accident.'

If the evidence of Deoshankar is accepted, then, it is clear that the petitioner did not contribute by his own action or conduct to the peril. It is equally clear that the petitioner was a helpless victim of the assault which was initiated by one of the employees of the Mill, who was assisted by three outsiders. It is also clear that the attack took place upon the petitioner while he was engaged in carrying out his day to day duties. That being the case, it must be held that the injuries suffered by the petitioner was incidental to his employment. There was alsocausal connection between the accident and the employment, and, therefore, accident must be taken to have arisen out of employment of the petitioner. It is significant to note that the facts which the Division Bench was considering (in which the decision was given by the learned Chief Justice) were somewhat stronger than the facts of this case. These facts were: The deceased was an employee of the Central Railway at a station on the Railway, living in the railway quarters adjoining the railway station. The only access to the deceased from the quarters to the station was through the compound of the railway station. One night the deceased left his quarters a few minutes before midnight in order to join duty, and immediately thereafter he was stabbed to death by some unknown person. It is noteworthy that the attack on the deceased in that case took place outside the premises of the railway. Yet it was held by the learned Chief Justice that this was an accident which occurred in the course of the employment.

(5) The result is that the application must succeed. The petitioner had claimed Rs. 176/1 by way of damages, and it does not appear that this amount was contested on behalf of the Mills. The application is therefore allowed. Rule is made absolute. The petitioner is awarded Rs. 176/-. The petitioner to recover costs of this petition.

FD/V.S.B.

(6) Revision allowed


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