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Sri Jayaram Motor Service Vs. Pitchammal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.A.O. No. 226 of 1979
Judge
Reported in[1982(45)FLR254]; (1982)IILLJ149Mad
ActsIndian Medical Councils Act; Workmen's Compensation Act - Sections 3
AppellantSri Jayaram Motor Service
RespondentPitchammal
Cases ReferredChhotulal v. Hemaram (supra
Excerpt:
.....he is entitled to compensation--held in affirmative. ; the legal representative of a deceased workman filed a claim petition claiming compensation under the workmen's compensation act, 1923, before the additional commissioner for workmen's compensation stating that the deceased died during the course of employment when he was on the way to the workshop. the additional commissioner for workmen's compensation, overruling the objections of the employer a motor transport company awarded compensation. the employer filed an appeal in the high court against the order awarding compensation.; the question that arose for consideration was whether the deceased workman died in the course of employment, which entitled his legal heirs compensation under the workmen's compensation act,..........in kamla rai v. divisional superintendent, central railway, nagpur, [1971-i l.l.j. 603], where the deceased workman was an engine driver. he took charge of a goods train at about 10 a.m. and rested fro about two hours after taking charge. he did his normal duties for some time and again rested at the intermediate stations. while shunting at a wayside station at 4 p.m., the guard gave the red signal to stop the engine. he walked down to the guard to find out the reason for the red signal. while talking to him he collapsed. the bombay high court held that it could not be said that any strain of duty contributed towards his death. in such cases it was essential for the claimants to show that the deceased died not only because of the heart disease from which he suffered but also of some.....
Judgment:
1. This civil miscellaneous appeal arises out of the orders of the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Madurai in W.C. Application No. 66 of 1973 One Pitchammal, wife of Vanniappa Pillai residing in Vedabadra Sayanar East Street, Srivilliputur, filed the abovesaid W.C. Application No. 66 of 1973, against the management of the Jayaram Motor Service at Srivilliputtur. In the application before the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation is stated that her husband late Vanniappa Pillai was a workman employed by the opposite party for 17 years prior to 13the June, 1972, and on the 13th June, 1972, he died in the course of his employment. Her husband Vanniappa Pillai left the house for duty on 13th June, 1972, and on the way to the workshop due to heart attack he fell down and was given treatment and subsequently died. She claimed a compensation of Rs. 7,000. In the counter-statement the opposite party admitted that Vanniappa Pillai was working under the opposite party as a watchman and he died on 13th June, 1972. The opposite party denied that he died as a result of fatal accident. The case of the opposite party is that the watchman died near his house at 8 a.m. on 13th June, 1972, when he started to go somewhere, due to old age. After his death his wife applied for the final settlement of the provident fund accumulations with a death certificate from Srivilliputtur Municipality in which it is stated that he died due to old age. In the additional counter-statement it is stated that the husband of the applicant was employed only as a night watchman and that his duty hours closed well before 7 a.m. on 13th June, 1972 and he had no business to go over to the opposite party's workshop during the day time. The applicants husband died due to natural causes and the applicant filed an application before the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Madurai on 20th May, 1973, claiming compensation, only to get an unlawful gain.

2. The Workmen's Compensation Act is enacted for the purpose of enquiring into accidents and for determining the compensation payable to the employees in respect of injury by accident in the course of employment. In the instant case, the deceased was not on duty, nor was he on his way to duty as alleged in the application. Since he died purely due to natural causes, no compensation is payable. The applicant had obtained two death certificates from the Srivilliputtur Municipality. The first certificate was obtained on 26th June, 1972 and the second on 19th March, 1973. Both the certificates disclose that there has not been any medical attendant who attended on the deceased. The first certificate discloses the cause of death as due to "old age" whereas the second certificate discloses the cause of death as due to "Angina pectoris", which interpreted in layman's language is "pain and congestion of heart." The applicant had also obtained a medical certificate long after her husband's death from one Thiru A. R. M. Louis, Homeopathic Physician and Consultant, who presumably is not a Registered practitioner under the Indian Medical Councils Act. Hence the certificate given by him cannot be taken into consideration. Again, even the said certificate does not say that the deceased came to him during his working hours. Hence, judged by all standards, the death of the deceased is soley due to natural causes, for which the applicant is not entitled to any compensation under the Workmen's compensation Act.

3. Before the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation three witnesses were examined on behalf of the applicant. P.W. 1 is one Dr. A. R. M. Louis, Homeopathic Practitioner at Sri-villiputhur. He deposed that on 13th June, 1972, he examined the applicant's husband, Thiru Vanniappa Pillai, that he was suffering from heart disease; that he came to his clinic at 7-30 a.m. on 13th June, 1972, and that when he was examining the patient he expired due to heart failure. The second witness is the applicant. She deposed that her husband left the house at 6 a.m. on 13th June, 1972, for work, wearing a khaki shirt and trouser. She denied the suggestion that her husband was employed only during night as was employed only during night as watchman. The third witness on behalf of the applicant is one P. Mariammal. She deposed that at about 7-30 a.m. on 13th June, 1972, she had seen Thiru Vanniappa Pillai proceeding to work and that he collapsed near the residence of the doctor P.W. 1. On behalf of the opposite party two witness were examined, the first witness is S. Gnanapandian the Branch Manager of the opposite party. He deposed that the deceased person died due to natural causes and that he was wearing dhoti, shirts and angavastram at the time of his death The second witness on behalf of the opposite party is one D. R. Srinivasan the Manager of the opposite party. He deposed that the deceased person did not come to work on the morning of 13th June, 1972, and his death is not due to any accident arising in the course of his employment.

4. The Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation awarded a compensation of Rs. 7,000 relying on the judgment reported in Vai diva Kaluji v. Silver Cotton Mills Ltd., [1956-I L.L.J. 740], in which case the workman had worked for 8 hours on a hot day and died. The Bombay High Court held that the death must have been accelerated by the strain of the work. When he died due to heart failure within six hours after his collapse the Bombay High Court came to the conclusion that the death must have been caused in the course of his employment. Relying on this decision and on the evidence of P. Ws. 1 to 3, the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation awarded a compensation of Rs. 7,000 Against the said order this civil miscellaneous appeal is filed.

5. The learned counsel for the appellant submits that in order to enable the respondent to obtain the compensation under S 3 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, the death must have been caused. (1) on account of personal injury; (2) arising out of an accident; and (3) in the course of employment and out of employment None of the circumstances is present in this case to enable the respondent to claim compensation. On behalf of the appellant it is argued that the workmen died according to P.W. 3, 300 ft. away from the workshop and according to R.W. 14 furlongs away from the workshop and in the death certificate issued by the Srivilliputtur Municipality in the first instance, viz. Exhibit R-3 the cause of death is stated in column 16 as "old age". Exhibit r-3 was issued on 26th June, 1972, and only as an afterthought a subsequent certificate has been obtained from the Srivilliputtur Municipality, marked as Exhibit R-2 dated 19th March, 1973, in which the cause of death is stated as angina peetoris. It is also argued on behalf of the appellant that the respondent's husband was employed only as a night watchman that his work ceased at 6 A.M. on 13th June, 1972, that he had no work during day time and that his death at 7-30 A.M. at a distance of four furlongs from the workshop of the opposite party cannot be said to be in the course of employment.

6. On behalf of the appellant reliance is placed upon the ruling reported in Sourashtra Salt Manufacturing Co. v. Bai Valu Raja and others, [1958-II L.L.J. 249], wherein it has been observed as follows.

"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 repasses 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".

Even this theory of notional extension cannot be applied in this case since the workman was not going to or coming from the work at the time of his death. The second case cited on behalf of the appellant is the ruling reported in General Manager, Best Undertaking, Bombay v. Mrs. Agnes,[1963-II L.L.J. 615]. The majority view extracted in the head note is as follows :

"that under the Rules, a bus driver is given the facility in his capacity as a driver to travel in any bus belonging to the undertaking, presumably to enable him to keep up punctuality and to discharge his onerous obligations. It is given to him not as a grace, but as of right because efficiency of the service demands it. Therefore, the right of a bus driver to travel in the bus in order to discharge his duties punctually and efficiently was a condition of his service and there was an implied obligation on his part to travel in the said buses as a part of his duty.

Though the doctrine of reasonable or notional extension of employment developed in the context of specific workshops, factories or harbours, equally applies to such a bus service the doctrine necessarily will have to be adopted to meet its peculiar requirements. While in a case of a factory the premises of the employer which gives ingress or egress to the factory is a limited one, in the case of a city transport service, by analogy, the entire fleet of buses forming the service would be the premises".

7. The Supreme Court upheld the view of the Bombay High Court that the accident which occurred when the bus driver boarded another bus to go to his residence after finishing his work was during the course of his employment. The third case relied upon by the appellant is the case reported in Mackinnon Mackenzie [1970-I L.L.J. 16], where it has been observed in the head-note as follows :

"To come within the Act the injury by accident must arise both out of and in the course of employment. The words 'in the course of the work which the workman is employed to do and which is incidental to it. The words 'arising out of employment' are understood to mean that 'during the course of the employment, injury has resulted from some risk incidental to the duties of the service, which unless engaged in the duty owing to the master, it is reasonable to believe the workman would not otherwise have suffered". In other words, there must be a casual relationship between the accident and the employment. The expression 'arising out of employment' is again not confined to the mere nature of the employment. The expression applies to employment as a such - to its nature, its conditions, its obligation and its incidents. If by reason of any of these factors the workman is brought within the scene of special danger the injury would be one which arises 'out of employment'. To put it differently if the accident had occurred on account of a risk which is an incident of the employment, the claim for compensation must succeed, unless of course the workman has exposed himself to an added peril by his own imprudent act. In the case of death caused by accident the burden of proof rests upon the workman to show that the accident arose out of employment as well as in the course of employment. But this does not mean that a workman who comes to Court for relief must necessarily prove it by direct evidence. Although the onus of proving that the injury by accident arose both out of and in the course of employment rests upon the applicant those essentials may be inferred when the facts proved justify the inference. On the one hand the commissioner must not surmise, conjecture or guess; on the other hand, he may draw an inference from the proved facts so long as it is a legitimate inference. It is of course impossible to lay down any rule as to the degree of proof which is sufficient to justify an inference being drawn, but the evidence must be such as would induce a reasonable man to draw it".

8. The fourth case referred to by the appellant is the case reported in Dudhiben Dharamshi and others v. New Jahangir Vakil Mills Ltd. [1977-II L.L.J. 194], where the workman met with his death when he was standing at a distance of 10.15 ft. from the main gate of the workshop as a result of knocking down by a cyclist. The Gujarat High Court held that the doctrine of notional extension is applicable because it was the incident of employment which brought the workman in the special danger zone in order to fulfill the condition of his employment. The fifth case cited n behalf of the appellant is reported in Kamla Rai v. Divisional Superintendent, Central Railway, Nagpur, [1971-I L.L.J. 603], where the deceased workman was an engine driver. He took charge of a goods train at about 10 a.m. and rested fro about two hours after taking charge. He did his normal duties for some time and again rested at the intermediate stations. While shunting at a wayside station at 4 p.m., the guard gave the red signal to stop the engine. He walked down to the guard to find out the reason for the red signal. While talking to him he collapsed. The Bombay High Court held that it could not be said that any strain of duty contributed towards his death. In such cases it was essential for the claimants to show that the deceased died not only because of the heart disease from which he suffered but also of some contributory cause on account of his employment or his duties which he was performing about the time of his death. It would not be enough to show that he died of that disease as a result of wear and tear of his employment. There must be some causal connection between the death of the workman and his employer.

9. The question whether an occurrence is an accident or not has to be determined from the point of view of the workman who suffers the accident. If the occurrence is unexpected and without any design on his part it may be said to be an accident, even if it had been caused by someone intentionally or wilfully.

10. Relying on these decisions it was urged on behalf of the appellant that the deceased workman did not die in the course of his employment, and even the notional extension of the place of work cannot be extended to the place where he died, that his death was only due to natural causes, that the claim was made only as an after-thought by the wife of the deceased workman and that the respondent is not entitled to compensation under S. 3 is not entitled to compensation under S. 3 of the Workmen's Compensation Act. It is laid down in Saurashtra Salt Manufacturing Co. v. Bai Valu Raja and others [1958-II 47-249] that 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 the workman. Keeping this observation in mind we have to examine the facts of this case. The case of the respondent is that her husband was employed as a watchman whereas the case of the appellant is that he was employed only as a night watchman and his work ceased at 6 a.m. In support of the contention of the appellant reliance is placed upon Exhibit R-5, where respondent's husband undertook not to sleep during his duty. Exhibit R-6 is the communication, dated 3rd April, 1970 stating that the respondent's husband slept during the work and that if he does so, hereafter, he will be removed from service. Reliance was also placed upon Exhibit R-5, which is a muster roll or th workers maintained by Sri Jayaram Motor Service, Rajapalayam, the appellant herein where the respondent's husband Vanniappa Pillai is shown as th night watchman. The appellant also examine R. Ws. 2 and 2, viz., the Branch Manager and the Manager of the appellant in proof of the case that the respondent's husband was employed only as a night watchman. As against this evidence we have only the self serving testimony of the respondent as P.W. 2, that her husband was employed only as a watchman. It was also pointed out in the Pay Register, Exhibit R-8, the respondent's husband is not mentioned a nightwatchman. But it is seen from the Pay Register for the 13 employees the designation is not given for any one and hence from the fact that the respondent's husband had not been described as a nightwatchman in Exhibit R-8 will not in any way probablise the case of the respondent. Taking all the circumstances and the evidence on record, we have to conclude that the respondent's husband was employed only as night-watchman with the appellant.

11. The next aspect tot be considered is whether the husband of the respondent sustained his death as a result of an accident. Accident had been defined in the reported decisions as an unforeseen and unexpected event. In this case, the respondent's husband sustained his death in an unexpected manner and the same could not have been foreseen by anybody. Hence the case of the respondent that her husband met with his death as a result of an accident will have to be accepted.

12. The next question to be considered is whether the respondent's husband met with his death in the course of the employment and out of the employment. It is laid down in the case reported in Chhotulal v. Hamaram, (1969) A.C.J. 346, that it is incumbent upon the Commissioner to be clear in his finding in respect of the question whether the accident arose out of and in the course of his employment. The question that he accident arose out of employment depends upon the facts of each particular case. One test for determining this is whether it was a part of the injured person's employment to hazard, to suffer, or to do that which caused the injury. In the course of the judgment the following principles enunciated in Kondisetti Anjiah v. T. Lakshmiah are quoted with approval :

"It is enough it it is established that : (1) at the time of the accident he was in fact employed on the duties of his employment; (2) that it occurred at the place where he was performing those duties; and (3) that the immediate act which led to the accident is not so remote from the sphere of his duties as to be regarded as something foreign to them."

In order to entitled a workman for compensation there must be a casual relation ship between the cause of death and his employment. On a study of the above decisions it is evident that a work as a result of stress and strain which he suffered earlier during the period of work a connection is established between the employment and his death.

13. In the present case, the fact that the deceased workman died as a result of heart failure cannot be seriously challenged. We have the evidence of P. Ws. 1 and 3 to show that he collapsed suddenly at 7.30 A.M. near the residence of P.W. 1 R.W. 1 also does not dispute the fact that he died suddenly at 7.30 A.M. near the residence of P.W. 1. R.W. 1, does not dispute the fact that the deceased workman was taken to the Doctor who was examined as P.W. 1. The appellant would counted that P.W. 1 is not a fully qualified doctor and that Homeopathic physicians are not recognised and they are not entitled to issue certificates. But the fact that he was practicing as Homeopathic physician is not disputed. The evidence of P.W. 1 and P.W. 3, the disinterested witnesses, who saw the deceased workman collapsing near the resident of P.W. 1 will have to be accepted. Even R.W. 1 admits that at the time when the deceased workman collapsed several women were present and the presence of P.W. 3 is not disputed. Considering the entire circumstances the only conclusion that can be arrived at is that the deceased workman died as a result of heart failure.

14. The next question to be considered is whether this heart failure could have been caused as a result of stress and strain received by him during the course of his work. It is the evidence of R.W. 1, that he attended his duty as a night-watchman during the previous night and that he worked throughout the night barring a small interval till 6 A.M., on 13th June, 1972. The duty as a night-watchman throughout the night without sleep will involve strain to the heart and the death in this case had occurred immediately after 1 1/2 hours from the cessation of duty. The heart failure must have occurred only as a result of strain which the deceased workman had undergone by keeping awake during the entire night in the course of his duty. The interval from the cessation of duty and the death being 1 1/2 hours it cannot be said that the stress and strain undergone by the deceased workman during the previous night had no relation to his death. Hence I have no hesitation to coming to the conclusion that though the death occurred 1 1/2 hours after he ceased to do work it can only be said that the stress and strain sustained by him during the course of his work had contributed to his death. No doubt the case of the respondent that her husband was employed as a watch-man does not appear to be true but even accepting the case of the appellant that he was only working as a night-watchman there is no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the stress and strain which the deceased workman had received in the course of his duties on the previous night had contributed to his death, which occurred 1 1/2 hours after his hours of duty. As observed in Chhotulal v. Hemaram (supra), the cause of his death is not so remote from the sphere of his duties as to be regarded as something foreign to item. Hence the finding of the additional Commissioner that the workman sustained his death in the course of his employment will have to be upheld.

15. The correctness of the quantum of compensation is not challenged by the appellant. In the result the civil miscellaneous appeal fails and is dismissed. How ever, there will be no order as to costs.


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