Skip to content


Chairman, CochIn Dock Labour Board Vs. P.J. George and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1976)IILLJ65Ker
AppellantChairman, CochIn Dock Labour Board
RespondentP.J. George and anr.
Cases ReferredNewton v. Guest
Excerpt:
.....the actual place of work. the exigencies of the service, the practice obtaining therein and the nature of the service would be guiding factors to ascertain the scope of the duty .4. it is now well-settled that the concept of 'duty' is not limited to the period of time the workman actually commence his work and the time when he downs his tools. it extends further in point of time as well as place. , a train or omnibus--is, i think clearly established by the decision of this house in newton v......work late hours in the night and he was free only by such late hours.3. the workman had no other means of transport from the island to reach his home on the mainland after his work during that part of the night.4. travelling expenses of 20 paise was being paid to the employees on the basis of the board fare even though the employees are free to travel by other vehicles, but during that part of the night those other means of transport were not available. the employees returning to the mainland after night duty use the mutchwa only.on these findings, applying the doctrine of notional extension of employment, it has been found that the place and time of the accident brought it within the scope of the term 'in the course of employment', challenge is made to this finding in this appeal by.....
Judgment:

P. Subramonian Poti, J.

1. Sri T.J. George, the first respondent in this appeal sustained an injury as a result of an accident on 10-9-1969. He was wounded on his left leg and it had to be amputated above the knee. The accident occurred when the 1st respondent was returning from his work in the Willingdon Island. He was crossing over to Mattancherry in a rowing boat (Mutchwa) when a water transport boat collided with the rowing boat. He was on duty in the Willingdon Island between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. on the relevant date and the accident took place some time just after the duty hours. At that time for cross over to the mainland the only conveyance available to Sri George was the Mutchwa and he availed of it. He, like the other employees, was being paid 20 paise as expenses for cross over from the Island to the mainland. The workman who sustained the injury as a result of the accident moved the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation for payment of compensation for loss of earning capacity to the extent of 70% partial permanent disability. The claim was made against the Chairman of the Dock Labour Board who is the appellant here. The Dock Labour Board disputed the claim of the workman on the ground that the accident occurred not in the course of employment as the workman had already left the Island when the accident took place and was moving to the mainland in a vehicle which could ordinarily be made use of by any member of the public. The Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation found, on the facts, that the Dock Labour Board was liable to pay the compensation. In support of this conclusion it relied mainly upon the following facts:

1. The nature of the work spot was relevant. It was an Island.

2. The workman had to work late hours in the night and he was free only by such late hours.

3. The workman had no other means of transport from the Island to reach his home on the mainland after his work during that part of the night.

4. Travelling expenses of 20 paise was being paid to the employees on the basis of the board fare even though the employees are free to travel by other vehicles, but during that part of the night those other means of transport were not available. The employees returning to the mainland after night duty use the Mutchwa only.

On these findings, applying the doctrine of notional extension of employment, it has been found that the place and time of the accident brought it within the scope of the term 'in the course of employment', Challenge is made to this finding in this appeal by the Chairman of the Dock Labour Board.

2. In Saurashtra Salt Mfg. Co. v. B.V. Raja and Ors. 1958-II L.L.J. 249, Imam, J. speaking for the Bench explained the doctrine of notional extension of employment thus:

As a rule, the employment of a workman does not commence until he has reached the place of employment and does not continue when he has left the place of employment the journey to and from the place of employment being excluded. It is now well-settled, however, that this is subject to the theory of notional extension of the employer's premises so as to include an area which the workman passes and re passes in going to and in leaving the actual place of work. There may be some reasonable extension in both time and place and a workman may be regarded as in the course of his employment even though he had not reached or had left his employer's premises. The facts and circumstances of each case will have to be examined very carefully in order to determine whether the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment of a workman, keeping in view at all times this theory of notional extension.

3. The Supreme Court of India in a later decision reported in B.E.S.T. Undertaking, Bombay v. Mrs. Agnes 1963-II L.L.J. 615 : (1964) 3 S.C.R. 940, exhaustively considered this doctrine of notional extension. Referring to the decision of the House of Lords in Weaver v. Tredegar Iron and Cool Co. Ltd. [1940] 3 All E.R. 157. which reviewed the entire law and gave a wider meaning to the concept of 'duty', Subbha Rao, J. said thus:

It was the duty of the employee to go to the workspot and leave it and it would be his duty to leave it by means of transit provided by the employer. The exigencies of the service, the practice obtaining therein and the nature of the service would be guiding factors to ascertain the scope of the duty .

4. It is now well-settled that the concept of 'duty' is not limited to the period of time the workman actually commence his work and the time when he downs his tools. It extends further in point of time as well as place. As an illustration the case where an employee is obliged to travel by a particular means of transport to reach or to leave the business premises of the employer may be pointed out. The obligation may not be a legal obligation. But if the circumstances compel him to adopt that means of transport that would be sufficient to relate the period of such journey to the employment. There must be nexus between the time and place of the accident and the employment. If the presence of the workman concerned at particular point, was so related to his employment as to lead to the conclusion that he was acting within the scope of employment that would be sufficient to deem the accident as having occurred in the course of the employment.

5. We are strengthened in the view we express here by the following observations of Viscount Maugham, J. in Weaver v. Tredegar Iron and Coal Co. Ltd. [1940] 3 All E.R. 157 at 161 thus:

That the principle of Hewitson's case is not limited to cases where the workman is in actual occupation of means of transport provided by the employer, e.g., a train or omnibus--is, I think clearly established by the decision of this House in Newton v. Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds, Ltd. In that case, the employers, by agreement with the Great Western Railway Co., provided trains by which the men could travel to the colliery. The coaches and platform were owned by the employers. The men were expected to travel by the pro vided trains, but not bound to do so. An employee on his way to work was going to such a train at about 5.35 a.m. and to do so he. had to cross the line. He was knocked down by a light engine, and suffered serious injury. The County Court Judge found that the man... when crossing the line to the train, was in the act of using the only reasonable and practical means of access open to him when he met with the accident.

6. If the obligation to travel by a particular means of transport which may no doubt be available not only to the workman but also the members of the public may be implied in the circumstances of the case, it may be directly related to the employment. The obligation as we have said, need not be a legal obligation on the part of the workman but the circumstances may oblige him to adopt that course. If the term 'duty' is to have a wide meaning and is not to be confined to the time when the workman is actually carrying out his work one can see no difference between the case where he sustains an injury when walking across a third party's premises with licence and a case where he uses a vehicle which could be used by others also for leaving the premises where he is working but he is obliged to use such vehicle. Just as an employee has a duty to reach the workspot in time he has a duty to leave the workspot when once his duty hours are over. He is in such cases, obliged to leave the premises by available means. He may have the choice of leaving by several routes, the choice which is open to any member of public, as for example, when he is travelling along a public road when it may be said that he is there not by virtue of his status as an employee but as a member of the public. But there may be peculiar circumstances when he has no such choice and is obliged to adopt one and the only mode of conveyance available to him and to his class. Though, it may not be possible to define the specific circumstances in which this can be said to be the situation on the facts of a case it may be possible to find so as has been found by the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation here. We do not think that the finding is vitiated by any irrelevant factors. The workspot which the workman was obliged to leave in the early hours of the morning was an Island from which to reach the mainland the one and the only available means of transport at that time was the Mutchwa or the country boat. He had no choice left. Possibly if it were the normal hours of the day or the night he could have availed of other means of transport such as the bus or train or even the regular ferry boats which might be plying between the Island and the mainland. But if he wanted to continue in employment he had to take the hazard of travelling by the Mutchwa to cross the lake to reach the mainland. These circumstances would justify the conclusion that, but for the employment he would not have found himself there in a Mutchwa at that part of the night. Sufficient nexus between the employment and the accident has been found so much so it is not for this Court to interfere and hold otherwise.

7. In the result, the appeal is without merit and it fails. It is dismissed with costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //