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Parwatibai Vs. Manager, Rajkumar Mills - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Appeal No. 5 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1959MP281; (1959)IILLJ65MP
ActsWorkmen's Compensation Act, 1923 - Sections 3 and 3(1)
AppellantParwatibai
RespondentManager, Rajkumar Mills
Appellant AdvocateG.L. Ojha, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateG.M. Chafekar, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredSteel Products Ltd. v. Amelda.
Excerpt:
.....the large vessels of the arteries was the direct cause of cardiac failure. it is well-known that heart-disease in old-age is either the result of 'arteriosclerosis' or of degeneration of the muscles of the heart or of a combination of these two conditions and that coronary thrombosis is a fairly common complication or end-result of the gradual thickening of the inner lining of the coronary arteries. while he was working in the mills on 29-4-1954 he became restless and unconscious, complained of pain in the chest and was removed immediately in a dead-state to m. the commissioner has not expressed any opinion on the question whether kalu's death was due to any heart-disease and whether if he died of heart failure while on his job, the respondent is liable to pay any compensation. it is..........cause of cardiac failure. it is not easy to reconcile the doctor's statement that he did not find kalu suffering from heart disease when he added that the coronary arteries had hardened and narrowed. this condition of the heart is medically known as 'arteriosclerosis' and is regarded as an indication of damaged heart. the deceased kalu was of about fifty years of age. at that age a large number of men develop hardening and narrowing of the arteries. it is well-known that heart-disease in old-age is either the result of 'arteriosclerosis' or of degeneration of the muscles of the heart or of a combination of these two conditions and that coronary thrombosis is a fairly common complication or end-result of the gradual thickening of the inner lining of the coronary arteries. dr. dubey.....
Judgment:

P.V. Dixit, J.

1. This is an appeal against the decision of the Commissioner for Workmen's Com-pensation, rejecting the claim of the appellant Parwatibai to compensation as the widow of one Kalu who was an oilman in the employ of the respondent.

2. The appellant alleged that on 29-4-1954 Kalu was working as a substitute for a Jobber and in the course of the work he was asked to do, ho had to mount a belt on a machine and start it and that while bolting the machine he received a jerk and a shock, and fell down and shortly afterwards) died of heart failure. The appellant claimed compensation to the extent of Rs. 2,400/-. These allegations were denied by the respondent, who stated that when he was in the Mill premises Kalu complained of pain in the chest; that thereupon he was taken to the Mill Hospital for first aid and then removed to M. T. Hospital where he died; that Kalu's death was due to cardiac failure and that it was not due to any personal injury caused by any accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.

3. The appellant examined on her behalf two witnesses Bodya and Rewashankar to show that her husband Kalu received a jerk and shock while belting the machine and consequently fell down and died shortly afterwards. Bodya gave the evidence that on the morning of 20-4-1954, Kalu was on a plank about eight to ten feet above the ground trying to belt the machine and that he received a shock and fell down on the plank. The witness did not give any details of the shock and how it was received. He simply said that Kalu received a shock. He also gave no details as to the position, manner and place where according to him Kalu fell down after receiving the alleged shock. The Commissioner for Workmen's compensation found Bodya's evidence difficult of acceptance when he admitted that though he was not very far from Kalu, when he fell down, he did not rush and go near him to render succour to him. Bodya also could not give the names of the persons who came to lift Kalu after as the witness said he fell down. The learned Commissioner thought that these statements of the witness cast a grave doubt on the version given by him as regards Kalu's death. The other witness Rewashankar admitted that he was unable to say how Kalu fell down. On the other hand, he made the statement in cross-examination that he had seen Kalu sitting on the plank and then lying down. The medical evidence, which was furnished by Dr. Narayan Prasad Dubey, did not also support the version that Kalu fell down from any plank as a result of a jerk and shock. On this evi-dence, the learned Commissioner found himself un-able to hold that Kalu's death was due to any personal injury caused by accident arising out of or in the course of his employment. The finding that Kalu did not receive any shock or jerk in an attempt to start tho machine and did not fall down on account of any such shock or jerk arrived at by the learned Commissioner is a finding of fact supported by evidence and has to be accepted in this appeal.

4. According to Dr. Narayan Prasad Dubey, Kalu's death was due to cardiac failure. He conducted the post-mortem examination and gave the evidence that he did not find the deceased suffering from any heart disease. Dr. Dubey added that the large vessels of coronary arteries had hardened and that there was no apparent obstruction in them. He was unable to say whether the hardness of the large vessels of the arteries was the direct cause of cardiac failure. It is not easy to reconcile the doctor's statement that he did not find Kalu suffering from heart disease when he added that the coronary arteries had hardened and narrowed. This condition of the heart is medically known as 'arteriosclerosis' and is regarded as an indication of damaged heart. The deceased Kalu was of about fifty years of age. At that age a large number of men develop hardening and narrowing of the arteries. It is well-known that heart-disease in old-age is either the result of 'arteriosclerosis' or of degeneration of the muscles of the heart or of a combination of these two conditions and that coronary thrombosis is a fairly common complication or end-result of the gradual thickening of the inner lining of the coronary arteries.

Dr. Dubey should have been questioned further so as to elicit full details of the nature of the condition of the coronary arteries of the deceased for the purpose of determining whether Kalu was suffering from heart disease. But as was pointed out by Chagla C. J., in Bai Diva Kaluji v. Silver Cotton Mills Ltd., AIR 1956 Bom 424, if there is no direct evidence as to the cause of the death of the deceased and the medical evidence on the point is neither exhaustive nor illuminating, the Court is not relieved of its ob-ligation to come to a conclusion as to the cause of death in such cases and the Court must draw infer-ences which naturally and inevitably arise from such evidence as is there on the record. In that case, a normal healthy worker in the weaving department of a textile mill in Ahmedabad collapsed while he was on his job. The certificate of the Police Surgeon showed that the giddiness and collapse of the labourer was not due to any disease which was capable of being discovered by clinical examination. The learned Chief Justice observed that it was the most natural inference to draw that when a man suddenly collapses and dies very soon after, and the doctor is not in a position to suggest any reason for this sudden collapse and the death ensuing, that he was suffering from heart trouble which could not be discovered on a mere clinical examination. Here also, Kalu was not found to be suffering from any disease.

While he was working in the Mills on 29-4-1954 he became restless and unconscious, complained of pain in the chest and was removed immediately in a dead-state to M. T. Hospital. These circumstances taken together with the fact that the coronary arteries of Kalu had hardened and narrowed down, I find it impossible ta escape the conclusion that he was suffering from heart disease. The Commissioner has not expressed any opinion on the question whether Kalu's death was due to any heart-disease and whether if he died of heart failure while on his job, the respondent is liable to pay any compensation.

5. If, as the evidence shows, Kalu was suffering from heart disease and got a fatal heart attack while he was on his duty on 29-4-1954, the question, arises whether Kalu's death was an injury caused by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. Mr. Ojha, learned counsel for the appellant, argued that Kalu's death was an injury; that it was an unexpected event happening without design; that at the time of the heart attack he was actually working in the Mill; that his death was accelerated by the strain of the work he had to do; and that, therefore, his death was a personal injury caused by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.

In reply, Mr. Chafekar, learned counsel for the respondent, contended that there was no evidence to show that Kalu was suffering from any heart disease and that even if it were taken that he was suffering from heart disease, there was nothing to show that he got the heart disease because of the nature of his employment or that he got the unfortunate heart attack on account of the Strain of work he was doing on 29-4-1954.

6. It cannot be disputed that the sudden death of Kalu, who was suffering from heart disease, was caused by an accident. It is well established that the word 'accident' in Section 3(1) of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, has been used in the popular and ordinary sense and means 'mishap' or 'untoward event not expected or designed'. If the injury or death from the point of view of the workman, who dies on suffers the injury is unexpected or without design on his part, then the death or injury would be by accident although it was brought about by a heart attack or some other cause to tie found in the condition of the workman himself, Kalu clearly did not design the heart attack or intend that he should die as a result of it. His death was thus caused by an accident. It is also clear, that the decease ed died while he was on his job and thus in the course of his employment. The question remains whether the accident 'arose out of the employment'.

There are numerous English and Indian decisions in which the meaning of the expression 'accident arising out of the employment' has been considered. Some of the decisions are conflicting. But the majority of them can be reconciled by taking into account the facts of each case and remembering that appeals in such cases are on substantial questions of law and that the decision in each case, whether in favour of the workman or the employer, was on the evidence upon which the competent authority or the Court decided in the manner it did. One principle that emerges from all these decisions is that whether the accident 'arises out of the employment or not' depends on the facts of each case; the accident must be connected with the employment and must arise out of it; there must be a casual connection or association between the employment and tho accidental injury. As Lord Haldanc observed in Mrs. Margaret Thorn or Simpson v. Sinclair, (1917) 1917 AC 127 :

'The question really turns on the character of the causation through the employment which is required by the words 'arising out of'. Now it is to be observed that it is the employment which is pointed to as to be the distinctive cause, and not any parti-cular kind of physical occurrence. The condition is that the employment is to give rise to the circumstances of injury by accident.'

Tims if a particular accident would not have happened to a workman had he not been employed to work in the particular place and condition, then it would be an accident arising out of the employment: On the other hand, if the accident would have* happened in any situation, then it would be difficult to say that it was connected with the employment as to have arisen out of it.

7. In Margaret Brooker v. Thomas Borthwick and Sons, ATR 1933 PC 225, the Privy Council put the matter thus :

'The accident must be connected with the employment : must arise 'out of it. If a workman is injured by some natural force such as lightning, the heat of the sun, or extreme cold, which in itself has no kind of connexion with employment, he cannot recover unless he can sufficiently associate such injury with his employment. This he can do if he can show that the employment exposed him in a special degree to suffering such an injury. But if he is injured by contact physically with some part of the place where he works, then apart from questions of his own misconduct, he at once associates the accident with his employment and nothing further need be considered. So that if the roof or walls fail upon him, or he slips upon the premises there is no need to make further enquiry as to why the accident happened.'

8. Now, here, the association of the accident with the employment is not. established. There is no evidence to show that Kalu got heart disease as a result of the work he was engaged in, in the course of his employment. There is also nothing to show that the heart attack was due to an exceptional strain I of work that Kalu did on the day in question. In the absence of such evidence it must be held that Kalu died as a natural result of the disease from which he was suffering and if he so died, then it could not be said that his death was caused by an accident arising out of his employment. All that is known in the instant case is that Kalu died of heart failure during his employment and that he was suffering from heart disease. This is not sufficient to show that he died of heart disease to which his employment was a contributing factor. In my opinion, on the material on record, it is impossible to attribute the death of Kalu to injury by accident arising out of his employment.

9. Turning to the authorities cited by learned Counsel, the decision in AIR 1956 Bom 424 would at first sight seem to support the appellant. But the case is really distinguishable on facts. That was a case where a workman suffering from heart disease after working for eight hours on a hot day in June in a mill in Ahmedabad died of heart failure and it was held that he died of injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. In that case the expert medical evidence was that if a weaver suffering from heart disease wocks for about right hours in a textile Mill in Ahmedabad in the month of June and collapses unconscious and dies within about six hours, then the eight hours' work on a hot day must have caused strain and accelerated his death.

Tiie learned Chief Justice observed that if the worker was suffering from heart disease, then the fact that he worked for eight hours on a hot day must obviously have caused strain and accelerated his death and, therefore, the deceased died of injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. In the instant case there is no material whatsoever about the work that Kalu did on the day in question or about the conditions under which he was doing the work. In Laxmibai Atmaram v. Chairman and Trustees, Bombay Port Trust, AIR 1954 Bom 180 Chagla C. J., after pointing out that the words 'out of employment' -emphasized that there must be a casual connection between the employment and the accidental injury, proceeded to say ;

'The authorities again are clear that if the workman died as 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 that 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 it could be said that the death arose out of the employment of the deceased.'

In that case it was held that the worker concerned died as a result of the strain caused upon bis heart by the particular work that he was doing, namely, having to stand on his legs and having to move about as a watchman looking after the pumping station belonging to the employer and that, therefore, his death was due to an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. In M/s Steel Products Ltd. v. Amelda. AIR 1951 Cal 145 where a workman had an attack of thrombosis when he was sent out by the employer to repair a handle of an almi-cah placed in a room and died after some days, it was held that there was nothing upon which the Court could hold that the attack came while the workman was doing something connected with his work. The association between the death of the workman and his death was thus not prated in the Calcutta case.

10. For all these reasons, I am of the opinion that the learned Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation was right in rejecting the appellant's claim for compensation. In the circumstances of the case, I would make no order as to costs of this appeal.


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