Principal employer is liable to compensate a worker engaged by the contractor

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: An appeal filed by the Executive Engineer against the award of compensation passed in favour of Respondent 2, was dismissed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjeev Kumar, J.

Respondent 2 (an iron smith) was engaged as a labour by Respondent 3 (contractor) who worked with the appellant. A compressor rod was given by the appellant to Respondent 2 to carry out repairs. While working on the compressor rod, Respondent 2 sustained a certain injury which resulted in his arm getting amputated and thereby he suffered permanent disability. He preferred a claim petition before the Commissioner under Workmen Compensation Act, who awarded him a compensation amounting to Rs. 2,97,000 along with interest at 6% per anum. The appellant challenged the award contending inter alia that there was no privity of contract between him and Respondent 2, therefore, liability to compensate him could not be fastened on the appellant.

The High Court, after duly considering the submissions made by the appellant, observed that his contention was fallacious. The Court noted that it was undisputed that Respondent 3, who had engaged Respondent 2 as a labour, worked with the appellant as a contractor. Respondent 2 was engaged to carry out the work of the appellant. Furthermore, the job of repairing the iron rod, that was the direct reason for the injury, was assigned to Respondent 2 by the Junior Engineer of the appellant. The Court categorically stated that the appellant being a principal employer was liable to pay compensation to Respondent 2 on account of permanent disablement suffered by him during and in the course of his employment with the appellant. In such circumstances, the High Court dismissed the appeal holding the appellant liable to compensate Respondent 2 as awarded by the Commissioner. [Executive Engineer, PWD v. Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation, MA No. 187 of 2009, dated 04-06-2018]

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