1. Chhedilal Nandai was working as a watchman with Messrs. Dhanraj Mills: Sun Mill Road, Lower Parel, Bombay 13, in 1973. As the Mill management asked three of their watchmen Chhedilal, Ramnath and Kedarnath to proceed to Ahmedabad on 14th February 1973 for which a car was provided, Chhedilal along with his two colleagues went to Ahmedabad. After finishing his assignment, they were returning to Bombay on 19th February 1973 when the car met with an accident and fell in a river at Vapi. Chhedilal sustained certain injuries, and preferred a claim before the Employees' Insurance Court at Bombay, - against the Employees State Insurance Corporation. The claim baying been rejected, Chhedilal comes up in appeal.
2. Mr. Jaikar, on behalf of the Corporation, supports the judgment on the ground that Chhedilal having proceeded to Ahmedabad in connection with the marriage ceremony of the daughter of employer's relative, did not receive the injuries in the course of his employment within the meaning of the definition of 'Employment Injury' occurring in Sub-section (8) of Section 2 of the Act. Mr. Jaikar also argues that even if it be held that Chhedilal was in the employment of the Mills and he was working as a watchman in the marriage function at Ahmedabad, it could not be called 'an insurable employee,' within the meaning of that definition.
3. It is a common ground that the mills are situated in Bombay, while the accident occurred when Chhedilal was returning from Ahmedabad where he was sent by the mills'to act as a watchman during the ceremonies. Before the Employees' Insurance Court at Bombay, the ESI Corporation filed an application to say that they did not desire to lead any oral evidence, but that they enclosed documents which might be exhibited. The list of the documents contains a letter written by the Employee Dhanraj Mills to the Regional Director of the Corporation informing the latter that Chhedilal along with two other watchmen were 'sent in connection with marriage ceremony of Director's relative as on duty.' The accident report from employers answer to Column 11 contains the remarks 'he was sent by employer to Ahmedabad,' In an answer to a question under caption 'Cause of accident'--the employer writes--'he was coming to Bombay to attend his normal duties at the mills.'
4. Chhedilal had put himself in the box to say that he worked as a watchman at the place where the marriage was performed, and that he made the trip by the car arranged for him by the employers.
5. The Governments made by the employer himself in Exhibit 17 show that he regarded the trip of the applicant and other two watchmen to Ahmedabad as a part of their duties and also indicated that they were returning in the car to resume their duties at the Mills. With this admission, the questions whether the employee had over-stayed, or gone on his own accord during the course of employment do not arise. Right from the moment Chhedilal received orders to proceed to Ahmedabad in the car provided for by the employer till his return, Chhedilal was on duty and suffered the injuries in the course of his employment. The test would be, whether, the trip to and from Ahmedabad was made by Chhediklal on his own account or upon orders of his employers : and whether, Chhedilal was at the spot of accident of his own volition. Obviously No. one can imagine that a poor watchman would go all the way to Ahmedabad and back on his own, and once the answer is that Chhedilal was at the spot of the accident because the employers had asked him to be there, it follows that the accident took place and the injuries were suffered in the course of employment.
6. As the Employees' Insurance Court found against the applicant, it did not proceed to deal with the question of computation of damages. Now that the appeal is being allowed, it would be necessary to have recourse to the procedure under Section 54-A of the Act.
7. In the result, the appeal is allowed and the order of the Employees' Insurance Court at Bombay is set aside. The Employees State Insurance Corporation shall refer the case of the Appellant Chhedilal to a Medical Board for determination of the disablement question and pay the benefits according to law. The respondents to bear their own costs and to pay those of the appellant.