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Raman Pillai Vs. Chacko and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1960)ILLJ297Ker
AppellantRaman Pillai
RespondentChacko and ors.
Cases ReferredVaradarajulu Naidu v. Masaya Boyan
Excerpt:
- .....engaged in breaking stones at the quarry for the construction of the road cannot be treated as a workman employed in the construction or repair of a road and that the claim should have been disallowed as the deceased was not actually working at the site of the road.3. it has been brought out in evidence that the appellant was employed not merely for breaking stones at the quarry but also for loading the same on the lorry and unloading it at the workspot and that on the date of his death he was proceeding in the lorry after loading the metal on it for the purpose of unloading it at the site where the work was going on. the version given by the appellant before the commissioner was that the deceased was going on his own business at the time the accident occurred, but this was not.....
Judgment:

T.K. Joseph, J.

1. This appeal arises from an order of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Trivandrum, awarding compensation to the respondents who are the legal representatives of one Chacko Baby who died on 11 November 1953. According to the respondents he was a workman engaged by the appellant for breaking stones and transporting the same to Chavara where the appellant, a Government contractor, was repairing the Alleppey-Quilon Road. It is stated that Chaoko Baby and other workmen loaded the metal in the lorry and were travelling on it, for the purpose of unloading the metal at the workspot when he fell from the lorry. The lorry ran over him, causing his death. The appellant filed a statement before the Commissioner denying the allegation that Chacko Baby was a workman under him. It was stated that he was travelling in the lorry on that day to go to a cinema theatre and that when the lorry reached the theatre, he jumped from the lorry and that the accident was caused in that manner. The fact that the appellant had paid a sum of Rs. 301 to the respondents on the day Chacko Baby died was not mentioned in the written statement. Both sides adduced evidence before the Commissioner. The evidence adduced by the appellant was to the effect that metal was supplied at the workspot by a contractor, one Abdur Rahiman, and that the actual breaking of the stones at quarry was done by one Oommen who had engaged Chaoko Baby for that work. The Commissioner found that Abdur Rahiman was the appellant's agent and not an independent contractor, that Oommen was a Sub-contractor of the appellant, that so far as the work of breaking stones at the quarry was concerned, the appellant was liable as a 'principal,' if not as a direct employer, and that he was liable as employer so far as the loading, transport and unloading of the metal was concerned. On these findings he held that the appellant was liable to pay a sum of Rs. 1,800 to the respondents as compensation. This appeal has been preferred from the order awarding compensation.

2. Section 30 of the Workmen's Compensation Act provides that an appeal shall lie to the High Court from an order awarding compensation but that no such appeal shall lie unless a substantial question of law is involved in the appeal. It is urged on behalf of the appellant that his liability would depend on the question whether Chacko Baby was a 'workman' as denned by the Act and whether he died by accident 'arising out of and in the course of his employment.' According to Section 2(1)(n) of the Act,

'workman' means any person (other than a person whose employment is of a casual nature and who is employed otherwise than for the purpose of the employer's trade or business) who is-

* * *(ii) employed on monthly wages not exceeding three hundred rupees, in any such capacity as is specified in Schedule II.

Clause (viii)(c) of Sch. II provides that a person employed in the construction, repair or demolition of any road, bridge or tunnel is a workman within the meaning of Section 2(1)(n). The argument advanced on behalf of the appellant is that a person engaged in breaking stones at the quarry for the construction of the road cannot be treated as a workman employed in the construction or repair of a road and that the claim should have been disallowed as the deceased was not actually working at the site of the road.

3. It has been brought out in evidence that the appellant was employed not merely for breaking stones at the quarry but also for loading the same on the lorry and unloading it at the workspot and that on the date of his death he was proceeding in the lorry after loading the metal on it for the purpose of unloading it at the site where the work was going on. The version given by the appellant before the Commissioner was that the deceased was going on his own business at the time the accident occurred, but this was not accepted by the Commissioner. The lorry in which the deceased was travelling admittedly belonged to the appellant and was being used for transporting the metal for the purpose of construction of the road. The inference which follows from the evidence is that the deceased was travelling in the lorry for the purpose of unloading the metal at the site of the work of construction. Abdur Rahiman who was put forward by the appellant as an independent contractor was found to be only an agent of the appellant for transporting metal from the quarry to the workspot. It is, therefore, clear that the death of the deceased was due to an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.

4. The question whether the deceased was employed in the construction or repair of the road and was thus a 'workman' as denned by the Act had also to be considered. A similar question arose in Prativa Das Gupta v. Corporation of Calcutta 65 O.W.N. 496. It was contended in that case that the person who died was 'employed in the construction, repair or demolition of a building' Sch. II, 01. (viii)(a). Though the claim for compensation was disallowed on other grounds Harries, C.J., and Banerjee, J., held that 'employed in the construction' means not necessarily actually employed to construct, but employed in connexion with such construction. We adopt this view and it follows that Chaoko Baby who was bringing the metal to the workspot was employed in connexion with the construction of the road. The narrow construction which the appellant wants us to adopt, viz., that the person must be actually employed in the construction or repair of the road, does not appeal to us. We may observe that the decision of the Madras High Court in Varadarajulu Naidu v. Masaya Boyan 1954-II L.L.J. 426 also supports the view we have taken. Chaoko Baby was therefore a 'workman' as defined by the Act.

5. The order of the Commissioner does not, therefore, call for interference. We accordingly confirm the same and dismiss the appeal with costs including advocate's fee of Rs. 150.


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