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Mewar Textile Mills and anr. Vs. Kushali Bai and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1960)IILLJ369Raj
AppellantMewar Textile Mills and anr.
RespondentKushali Bai and anr.
Cases ReferredLtd. v. Abdul Hossain A.I.R.
Excerpt:
.....that the employee bad died because of an accident with the main shaft and it was also established that the said shaft was left uncovered and unfenced by the employer. it was just a chance that his assailants found an occasion the murder him within the premises of the mills during the recess period though they could as well make such an assault outside the premises or at some other convenient time......(which will hereinafter be referred as the mills) on the ground that the accident which led to panjumal's murder arose out of and in the course of his employment. the appellant mills' plea was that panjumal's murder had nothing to do with his employment and, therefore they were not liable to pay any compensation. this objection did not find favour with the workmen's compensation commissioner. he allowed the full claim of the respondents and further awarded rs. 50 for costs to them.4. learned counsel for the appellants has urged that panjumal had not died because of any accident, but because of a deliberate murder committed by some miscreant, who bore personal grudge against him, that the incident took place during the recess period when he was not doing any work for his employer and.....
Judgment:

D.S. Dave, J.

1. This is an appeal by Mewar Textile Mills, Bhilwara, and General Assurance Company, Ltd., Ajmer, against an order of the Workmen's Compensation, Commissioner, Udaipnr Division, Bhilwara, dated 3 December 1955, allowing Rs. 2,150 as compensation to the respondents under Section 3 of the Workmen's Compensation Act.

2. It is common ground between the parties that one Panjumal, who was murdered on 16 February 1954 within the premises of the Mewar Textile Mills, Bhilwara, was an employee of the appellant mills and used to work in what was called the ' frame department.' On 16 February 1954, he was killed by somebody with a knife during the recess period in the second shift sometime between 7-30 and 8 p.m. His dead body was found in a cabin which was used for storing the junk. On report to the police, three persons, namely, Gopi, Nenu and Nola, were arrested and tried by the learned Sessions Judge, Bilwara. It was alleged by the prosecution against them that Gopi owed a debt to the deceased, that Nenu stood surety for Gopi and that both of them committed the said murder with a knife. Nola was also said to be an accomplice in the said crime. All the three were, however, acquitted by the learned Sessions Judge on 10 January 1955.

3. Respondent 1 Kushali Bai is the mother of the deceased while respondent 2 Sita Bai is his widow. Both of them claimed Rs. 2,100 as compensation from Mewar Textile Mills (which will hereinafter be referred as the mills) on the ground that the accident which led to Panjumal's murder arose out of and in the course of his employment. The appellant mills' plea was that Panjumal's murder had nothing to do with his employment and, therefore they were not liable to pay any compensation. This objection did not find favour with the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner. He allowed the full claim of the respondents and further awarded Rs. 50 for costs to them.

4. Learned Counsel for the appellants has urged that Panjumal had not died because of any accident, but because of a deliberate murder committed by some miscreant, who bore personal grudge against him, that the incident took place during the recess period when he was not doing any work for his employer and therefore it cannot be said if the accident arose in the course of the employment of the deceased. It is further contended that the incident did not arise out of the employment of the deceased and therefore the appeal should be allowed and the order of the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner should be set aside.

5. Learned Counsel for the respondents has on the other hand tried to support the order against which this appeal is directed.

6. The main question for determination in this case is whether Panjumal met with his death on account of an incident which arose out of and in the course of his employment with the mills.

7. I have gone through the record, and find that neither of the two respondents have cared to appear in the witness-box. In the application which was filed by them, they simply stated that Panjumal was attacked by some fellow-workers with a knife and that the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment of the deceased. It was not indicated as to how the mills were responsible for the accident and in what manner the incident had arisen out of the employment of the deceased. The respondents examined three witnesses. Of them P. W. 1 Manohar Dass simply stated that the deceased used to work in the frame department and that he had been him alive about half an hour prior to the recess period. The statement of this witness is of no help in fastening any liability on the appellants to pay compensation to the respondents, because he is quite silent as to how the incident took place and whether it had anything to do with the employment of the deceased with the mills. The next witness Mohanlal has stated that there were about 1,500 workers in the mills and they were divided into two parties. According to him, there was a dispute in 1951 and at that time lathies were used by members of both the parties in a quarrel. His statement is also of little use to the respondents, because he has stated only about an old incident of 1951, and he has not made it clear as to how the present incident was related to it. There is no mention in his statement if the deceased belonged to any party or that his assailants belonged to the rival party. He has also failed to mention if there was any quarrel between the deceased and any other fellow-workers prior to the incident. In other words, he has given no approximate cause of Panjuma's murder and there is nothing in his statement which can relate his murder to his employment with the mills. The third witness Chunnilal also has simply stated that he had seen the deceased working at the machine shortly before the interval. He has further stated that the cabin where Panjumal's dead body was found was used for storing old and spare parts. Thus, his statement also is of little help in determining whether the incident arose out of the deceased's employment with the mills. It appears from the decision of the Workmen's Compensation Commissioner that he has awarded compensation to the respondents simply because, in his opinion, Panjuma's murder was committed by some workmen of the mills and it was committed within the mills' premises. It may be observed that an employer cannot be held responsible simply because one of the employees happens to assault another employee, unless it is proved that the incident had any-thing to do with the employment of the person in respect of whom the compensation is claimed. Learned Counsel for the respondents has referred to Nath Mal Mundra v. Shanker Dutt 1955 R.L.W. 387, but in that case it was proved that Shanker Dutt was performing his duty as an employee of his master at the time when he was carrying on prospecting operations and it was further proved that his assailants had caused him injuries, because they contested his master's right over the land while Shanker Dutt was asserting the right on behalf of his master. That case is, therefore, of no help to the respondents. Learned Counsel has also referred to Hukam Chand v. Mst. Hemi 1956 R.L.W. 355. In that case also it was found that the employee bad died because of an accident with the main shaft and it was also established that the said shaft was left uncovered and unfenced by the employer. Learned Counsel has also referred to Challis v. London and Southwestern Railway Company 2 K.B. 154. In that case, an engine-driver while driving a train under a bridge was injured because of a stone having been dropped on the ground by a boy from the bridge. It is clear that the facts of that case were very different, because the workman (engine-driver) was actually driving an express train at the time when he met with the accident and the accident certainly related to his employment with the railway company. In the present case, no evidence whatsoever has been brought on record to show if Panjumal's death had any relation whatsoever to his employment with the mills. It was just a chance that his assailants found an occasion the murder him within the premises of the mills during the recess period though they could as well make such an assault outside the premises or at some other convenient time. Simply because the incident took place within the premises of the mills, it cannot be said that it had arisen out of the employment of the deceased with the mills. In Central Glass Industries, Ltd. v. Abdul Hossain A.I.R. 1948 Cal. 12 it was observed, after referring to certain decisions, as follows:

One thing is established by the reported decisions, namely, that the personal injury must have some relation to the employment. If it has no relation to the employment, the workman cannot claim compensation. It is also established by the reported decisions that the phrase 'arising out of the employment' occurring in Section 3 of the Act indicates that the workman's employment must be the distinctive and proximate cause of his personal injury and that the phrase does not mean only that the personal injury must have resulted from the mere nature of his employment and is not limited to cases where the personal injury is referrable to the nature of his employment, that is to say, the duties be bas to discharge.the workman who is injured in the course of his employment would be entitled to compensation only if his employment had given rise to the circumstances of injury by accident, and in testing the case from that point of view the word 'employment' is not to be defined in a narrow manner by reference only to the duties of the workman but the character, conditions, incidents and special risk involved would have to be taken into consideration. Judged from these principles we cannot hold that the personal injury would be taken to have arisen out of his employment which a workman received while playing in the ground of the factory where he was obliged to remain in idleness while another shift ,was working and before his turn of beginning work had arrived.

In the present case also, it has not been established by the respondents if the employment of the deceased with the mills formed aproximate or even a distant cause of injuries which he had received and which resulted in his death. The learned Compensation Commissioner does not seem to have applied his mind to this aspect of the case and it appears that he was guided in allowing compensation by compassionate grounds.

7. The appeal is, therefore, allowed, and the order of the Compensation Commissioner is set aside. In view of the circumstances of this case, the parties are left to bear their own costs.


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