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Kullammal Vs. Padmavathi Ammal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent App. No. 78 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1963Mad188; (1962)IILLJ467Mad
ActsWorkmen's Compensation Act, 1923 - Sections 2, 2(1) and 3
AppellantKullammal
RespondentPadmavathi Ammal
Appellant AdvocateT.S. Sundaram, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK. Venkateswara Iyer and ;M. Srinivasachari, Advs.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredRamaswami Mualiar v. Poongavanam
Excerpt:
.....compensation. - - section 3, which declares the employer's liability for compensation, contains other conditions to be satisfied before compensation can be claimed. it will be mere redundancy if one were to hold that, even while defining 'workman' under schedule ii, item xxvi, the authorities had in mind the place of accident as well. in our opinion the better view appears to be that item xxvi should be taken only as describing the 'workman',it would be sufficient if he is one who has an employment in warehouse......on any one day of the preceding twelve months ten or more persons have been so employed; ........'item xxviii which was introduced on 18th july 1957, states, 'employed for the purpose of loading or unloading any mechanically-propelled vehicle or in the handling or transport of goods which have been loaded into any such vehicle.'' it is not disputed that the deceased ranganathan was employed on monthly wages not exceeding rs. 400. the only question is whether he satisfies the definition in any of the two foregoing clauses, viz., clause xxvi or clause xxviii. the commissioner, holding that ranganathan would come under clause 28 and thus a workman within the meaning of the act, directed the employer to pay the sum aforesaid to the appellant herein. this view cannot obviously be supported,.....
Judgment:

S. Ramachandra Iyer, C.J.

1. This is an appeal from the judgment of Rajagopalan J. allowing an appeal filed at the instance of an employer from an order of the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, directing the employer to pay a sum of Rs. 2100 to the mother of the deceased employee, Ranganathan. The facts which have led up to the appeal are these. Caltex Co., Ltd., Madras are importers of oil from outside India. The imported oil which comes in sealed barrels is taken delivery of at the quay in Madras Harbour and delivered to the company at their warehouse at Rayapuram by contractors. The respondent is one such contractor. On 24th March 1958, the respondent's four-wheeled cart drawn by bullocks was loaded with oil barrels at the Harbour was proceeding from that place to the warehouse at Rayapuram. Chinnathambi, A. W. 1, was drawing the cart. Ranganathan, the deceased son of the appellant, who was to be in the rear was pushing the cart from behind when it was negotiating the steep gradient near the Caltex warehouse. When the cart approached the gates of the warehouse, it was suddenly stopped by the watchman on duty, as there was no space available inside for the cart. The sudden stoppage of the cart threw off certa'n barrels at the rear over the head of Ranganathan, causing serious injuries, which ultimately resulted in his death. There can be no doubt that the accident took place in the course of the deceased's employment. The appellant, the sole dependent of Ranganathan, applied to the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, for payment of compensation by the employer. The respondent denied the claim. One of the questions raised before the Commissioner and which alone survives for determination in this appeal is whether Ranganathan was a workman within the meaning of Section 2 (n). That section defines the term 'workman' this:

'Workman means any person (other than a person whose employment is of a casual nature and who is employed otherwise than for the purposes of employer's trade or business) who is .. .. .. .. .. .. (ii) employed onmonthly wages not exceeding Rs. 400 in any such capacity as is specified in Schedule II, whether the contract of employment was made before or after the passing of this Act and whether such contract was express or implied, oral or in writing; ..........'

2. There are two clauses in Schedule II to the Act, which are relevant for the purpose of this appeal. Item (xxvi) of Schedule II states,

'employed in the handling or transport of goods in or within the precincts of --(a) any warehouse or other place in which goods are stored, and in which on any one day of the preceding twelve months ten or more persons have been so employed; ........'

Item XXVIII which was introduced on 18th July 1957, states, 'employed for the purpose of loading or unloading any mechanically-propelled vehicle or in the handling or transport of goods which have been loaded into any such vehicle.'' It is not disputed that the deceased Ranganathan was employed on monthly wages not exceeding Rs. 400. The only question is whether he satisfies the definition In any of the two foregoing clauses, viz., Clause XXVI or Clause XXVIII. The Commissioner, holding that Ranganathan would come under Clause 28 and thus a workman within the meaning of the Act, directed the employer to pay the sum aforesaid to the appellant herein. This view cannot obviously be supported, because the vehicle, in respect of which Ranganathan was engaged, was not a mechanically propelled one. This was pointed out by Rajagopalan J. who allowed the appeal of the employer from the order of the Commissioner. We are in agreement with the learned Judge that Clause 28 will not apply to the present case. Learned counsel appearing for the appellant sought to sustain the order of the Commissioner before Rajagopalan J. on the ground that the employee came within the terms of item XXVI set out above, and, for that purpose, he sought permission to amend his claim. The learned Judge has summarily declined to consider the request on the ground that there was no allegation in the affidavit filed In support of the petition that Ranganathan had any work to discharge in tha course of his employment within the precincts of the warehouse. In the words of the learned Judge,

'It is transport in or handling of the goods within the precincts of warehouse that comes within ths scope of item XXVI and not merely transport of goods to a warehouse.'

With great respect to the learned Judge, we are unable to agree with that interpretation of item XXVI in Schedule II. It must be remembered that Schedule II purports to give only the list, of persons who, subject to the provisions of Section 2(1) (n) would be included in the definition of the word 'workman'. In other words, it is part of the definition of that term. As such it is not concerned with the question as to the place of accident. Section 3, which declares the employer's liability for compensation, contains other conditions to be satisfied before compensation can be claimed. For example, in order to entitle a workman to compensation, the accident should arise out of and in the course of his employment. We, however, realise that the interpretation of item XXVI is not very easy. It is not very clear whether, under that item, only those persons who are actually employed within the precincts of the warehouse can be termed 'workmen' or whether the item would include also all those workmen, part of whose duties lies within the precincts of the warehouse and part outside it. Mr. Venkateswara Aiyar, who appeared for the respondent, strongly urged that item XXVI would refer only to those workmen who are wholly employed within the precincts of the warehouse, and not to those who are employed outside the precincts, although part of their duties lay within the precincts. That is to say, that the accident itself should occur within the precincts ofthe warehouse of the employer. As we pointed out earlier, there is no warrant tor restricting the scope of item XXVI to accidents happening within the warehouse, Section a of the Act states that the accident, in order to entitle the injured to compensation from the employer should take place in the course of employment, i.e., at any place where the employment takes him. It will be mere redundancy if one were to hold that, even while defining 'workman' under Schedule II, item XXVI, the authorities had in mind the place of accident as well. In our opinion the better view appears to be that item XXVI should be taken only as describing the 'workman', it would be sufficient if he is one who has an employment in warehouse. If a part of his employment required him to go outside the warehouse and if he sustains an injury in the course of such employment, it cannot be said that he ceased to be the workman, i.e., one employed in the warehouse, merely because as a part of his duty, he has to go outside the precincts of the factory. In the present case a part of the duty of Ranganathan lay within the precincts of the warehouse in that he had to transport and handle or deliver the oil barrels within such precincts, once the barrels enter the gates of the warehouse. In this connection, reference may be made to the decision of Basheer Ahmed Sayeed J. in Ramaswami Mualiar v. Poongavanam, : (1953)IILLJ735Mad , where the learned Judge has held that the phrase 'within the precincts of a warehouse' would not restrict the area of operation by the workmen to the area contained within the four walls of the warehouse, but would include the space nearly that may be required for the loading and unloading of goods within the warehouse or without the warehouse. We are in respectful agreement with that view. It follows that a part of the duty of Ranganathan lay within the precincts of the warehouse and he was therefore a workman within the meaning of Section 2(n). Admittedly, he sustained the injury in the course of his employment, for it was his duty to push the cart laden with oil barrels whenever it was necessary to do so for the purpose of delivery into the warehouse. We are therefore, of opinion, that although the order of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation cannot be sustained on the particular ground relied on, viz., that the case came within item XXVIII of Schedule II, compensation is payable to the appellant as the deceased Ranganathan was a workman coming within the terms of item XXVI of that schedule.

3. The appeal is allowed with costs.


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