Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Suman Shyam, J. dismissed an appeal filed by an insurance company against the order of the Commissioner directing payment of compensation to an employee for permanent disability endured during his employment, as a result of an accident.

In the present case, the respondent met with an accident while driving an insured vehicle, and resultantly he suffered many injuries. The respondent filed a case for payment of compensation before the Workmen Compensation Commissioner, for compensation on the ground that the injuries suffered by him in the accident had resulted into his permanent partial disablement leading to loss of his earning capacity. The Commissioner awarded the payment of Rs 1,71,234 to the respondent after taking into consideration his monthly salary of Rs 3500 and the testimony of the doctor according to whom, the respondent had suffered 25 per cent permanent disability reducing his earning capacity by about 40 per cent. The present appeal had been made by the insurance company against the order of the Commissioner, Workmen Compensation under Section 30 of The Workmen Compensation Act, 1923. 

The learned counsel for the appellant, M. Choudhury, contended that the payment of compensation for loss of earning capacity cannot be worked out on the basis of mere assumption of a doctor, i.e., the doctor has only got a speculative role in deciding the percentage of loss in the income of the respondent/claimant. Furthermore, the salary of the respondent should not be taken into consideration while the calculation of the compensation. She also placed reliance on the judgment of Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. v. Bimal Pathar, 2017 SCC OnLine Gau 1292.

The learned counsel for the respondent Rajbarbhuiya contended that the credibility of the testimony of the witness doctor was never questioned or challenged by the appellant. before the Commissioner. He further said that the plea of the appellant should not be entertained, keeping in mind the beneficial object of the Act.

The Court observed that the daily allowance earned by a workmen can be taken into consideration while calculating the compensation. It was opined that the case of Oriental Insurance Company v. Bimal Pathar, 2017 SC OnLine Gau 1292,  itself gave this principle and the reliance of the appellant’s counsel on the given case mitigated the scope of dissent in this regard. It was further observed that the testimony of the doctor in the present case, was not merely speculative in nature. The same had been substantiated through X-ray reports and further fortified through the disability certificate presented by the respondent.

It was opined that though this Court was the court of the first appeal in this matter by virtue of Section 30 of the Act, it would not entertain a factual dispute which was not even raised by the appellant herein, at the time of the trial. Thus, the appeal was dismissed and payment of the balance amount to the respondent was ordered within six weeks.[United India Insurance Company v. Naren Deka, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 2259, decided on 07-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: I.S. Mehta, J. dismissed an appeal filed by the claimant against an award of compensation granted in a motor accident’s claim by the Presiding Officer, Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal-2 (Central), Tis Hazari Courts.

Bhagwat Prasad was crossing a road when he was hit by a motorcycle. He filed a claim petition against the driver of the motorcycle as also the insurer. The Tribunal awarded a compensation of Rs 1,46,572 plus interest to Bhagwat Prasad. Not satisfied with the quantum of compensation, he filed the present appeal.

D.S. Bhandari, Advocate for Bhagwati Prasad challenged the award on various grounds including that the Tribunal did not award any compensation towards loss of income due to inability. Per contra, Pankaj Gupta for Suman Bagga, Advocates representing the insurer supported the Tribunal’s order.

The High Court noted that Bhagwat Prasad relied upon his disability certificate of 42% which was not permanent disability. This, according to the Court, disentitled him for compensation towards loss of income. In view of the Court, the same also disentitled him for compensation towards future treatment. As far as the plea regarding the loss of disfigurement is concerned, the Court observed, “the same losses its significance, as, the injuries on the person is a temporary fracture…As such fracture on the ankle is not permanent in nature and is curable. The same cannot be classified as disfigurement injury which could be a stigma in the society and a factor to lower down his position in the society. Therefore, appellant is not entitled to any compensation towards disfigurement.”Finding no infirmity in the impugned award passed by the Tribunal, the Court dismissed the present appeal. [Bhagwat v. Laxman, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7339, decided on 26-02-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Rohinton Fali Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of Bombay High Court passed in a claim under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

The appellant, 29 years of age, suffered multiple injuries in an accident with a car driven by Respondent 1. He suffered permanent disability to the extent of 75%. The Courts below found, on evidence, that Respondent 1 was driving the car rashly and negligently. As a consequence, the appellant lost his livelihood – job of a driver. It is pertinent to note that before the accident, he was drawing a monthly salary of Rs 8500. The appellant filed a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal which was partly allowed. However, dissatisfied with the quantum of compensation, an appeal was filed before the High Court which erroneously concluded that it would be just and appropriate if monthly income of the appellant was considered to be Rs 5000. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court, at the outset, observed that in cases of motor accidents leading to injuries and disablement, it is a well-settled principle that a person must be compensated for physical injuries as well as non-pecuniary losses suffered due to the injury. It was reiterated that the purpose of compensation under the Act is to fully and adequately restore the aggrieved to the position prior to the accident. Reference was also made to Yadav Kumar v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., (2010) 10 SCC 341; Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121 and Raj Kumar v. Ajay Kumar, (2011) 1 SCC 343. It was held that effect of permanent disability on the earning capacity of the injured must be considered while awarding the compensation. Considering all the facts, the Supreme Court computed the just compensation amounting to Rs 20,29,000 to be awarded to the appellant. The civil appeal was accordingly allowed. [Anant v. Pratap,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 1082, dated 21-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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,  2018 SCC OnLine J&K 367, dated 04-06-2018]