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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Workmen compensation Act - whether the employee’s ischemic heart condition developed as a consequence of any stress or strain of his employment with the Appellant-company. - remanded = The Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation (1st Court), West Bengal held on 24.6.2010 that the Applicant/Respondent had met with an accident on 27.12.1999 while in the employment of the Appellant and that considering his age, wages and injury he was entitled to compensation computed at Rs.12,00,000/- (Rupees Twelve Lac) which is the maximum awardable, together with simple interest at the rate of twelve per cent per annum till the date of realization. = His argument is that this health malady has not arisen as a consequence of the Respondent’s services with the Appellant, and hence no compensation was payable under Section 3 of the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 which comes into operation only in the event of an employee suffering personal injury caused by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.= whether the employee’s ischemic heart condition developed as a consequence of any stress or strain of his employment with the Appellant-company. There can be no gainsaying that the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 is a beneficial legislation requiring some play at the joints so far as considering a disabled employee’s claim is concerned. In these circumstances, parties shall appear before the Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation (1st Court) West Bengal or its successor Court, as the case may be, on 11.11.2013. 4. The Appeal stands allowed accordingly.= A perusal of the impugned order makes it palpably clear that the Appellant-company’s Appeal was dismissed following the decision in FMAT No.1327 of 2010 (Dredging Corporation of India Ltd. v. P.K. Bhattacherjee). In these circumstances, this matter also requires to be remanded to the High Court of Calcutta for a fresh hearing in F.M.A. No.869 of 2010. Parties to appear before the High Court on 18.11.2013. 6. The Appeal stands allowed accordingly.

          published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40779
                                         NON-REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                    CIVIL APPEAL NO.    8278     OF 2013
                 [Arising out of S.L.P.(C)No.26414 of 2011]




      Dredging Corporation of India Ltd.                      …..Appellant


            Versus


      P.K. Bhattacherjee                                …..Respondent


                                   W I T H
                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  8279     OF 2013
                 [Arising out of S.L.P.(C)No.13296 of 2012]


                               J U D G M E N T




      VIKRAMAJIT SEN, J.


      CIVIL APPEAL NO.    8278      OF 2013
      [Arising out of S.L.P.(C)No.26414 of 2011]


     1. Leave granted.  We have heard learned counsel for  the  parties  in
        detail.
The Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation (1st Court), West
        Bengal held on 24.6.2010 that the Applicant/Respondent had met with
        an accident on 27.12.1999 while in the employment of the  Appellant
        and that considering his age, wages and injury he was  entitled  to
        compensation computed at Rs.12,00,000/- (Rupees Twelve  Lac)  which
        is the maximum awardable, together with simple interest at the rate
        of twelve per cent per annum till the  date  of  realization.  
 The
        Appellant thereafter approached the  High  Court  of  Calcutta  but
        without success as  the  Division  Bench,  by  its  judgment  dated
        12.8.2011, has dismissed the Appeal.  
It held that the  Respondent,
        at the concerned  time,  was  on  duty  on  Board  on  one  of  the
        Appellant’s vessels and that “this would mean that he was on  duty,
        any affliction or injury during such time  would  come  within  the
        ambit of Section 3 of the Employee’s Compensation  Act,  1923  (the
        erstwhile Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, till its  amendment  by
        Act 45 of 2009).”   
It is evident that the Respondent-employee  has
        succeeded concurrently both on facts as well as on law.
     2. Mr. Jaideep Gupta, learned Senior Counsel appearing  on  behalf  of
        the  Appellant  has  laid   emphasis   on   the   fact   that   the
        Respondent/Claimant was diagnosed immediately after  27.12.1999  to
        be suffering  an  ischemic  heart  ailment,  rendering  it  legally
        impermissible for the Appellant-company  to  continue  any  further
        with his services.  His argument is that this health malady has not
        arisen as a consequence  of  the  Respondent’s  services  with  the
        Appellant, and hence no compensation was payable under Section 3 of
        the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 which  comes  into  operation
        only in the event of an employee suffering personal  injury  caused
        by an accident arising out of and in the course of his  employment.
        The contention on  behalf  of  the  Appellant-company  is  that  an
        ischemic heart condition is personal to  the  constitution  of  the
        Respondent, totally unrelated to his service.  Although  ordinarily
        we would be loathe to  peruse  the  evidence  led  by  the  parties
        especially encountering concurrent conclusions, we have done so  in
        the present case. The Employee’s Compensation Act is  intended  for
        the benefit of an employee,  and  quintessentially  is  a  no-fault
        liability.  It appears to  us  that  both  the  Courts  below  have
        misdirected themselves in law in that because the  illness  of  the
        employee was discovered while he was in actual service it  has  led
        them to the conclusion that compensation is payable under Section 3
        of the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923.  We are also  mindful  of
        the fact that the Commissioner, being the Court of first  instance,
        has held that he met with an accident on 27.12.1999,  and  that  he
        suffered 100% loss of earning capacity as he was permanently  unfit
        for sea-service.   It  ought  to  have  distinguished  between  the
        discovery of the health condition while in service and  the  health
        condition having occurred during service.  So far as the  arguments
        of the Company are  concerned,  especially  in  the  Appeals  filed
        assailing the decision of the Commissioner, the emphasis  has  been
        that the ischemic heart condition of the employee discovered  while
        he was actually serving with the Appellant, was not related to  his
        service.  The learned Commissioner ought to have satisfied  himself
        fully on this aspect of the case rather than come to  a  conclusion
        that an accident had occurred, for which the evidence is  extremely
        scanty.  Faced with this predicament, Mr. Rana  Mukherjee,  learned
        counsel appearing for the employee  has  endeavoured  to  establish
        that an ischemic heart condition can result from job  stress  which
        was continuously encountered by the employee.
     3. For these reasons, it appears to us to be expedient and just to set
        aside the impugned order as well as the order of  the  Commissioner
        and remand the matter back to the Court  of  the  Commissioner  for
        fresh adjudication de novo.  It would  then  be  advisable  that  a
        specific issue be struck as  to  
whether  the  employee’s  ischemic
        heart condition developed as a consequence of any stress or  strain
        of his employment with the  Appellant-company.   
There  can  be  no
        gainsaying  that  the  Employee’s  Compensation  Act,  1923  is   a
        beneficial legislation requiring some play at the joints so far  as
        considering a disabled employee’s claim  is  concerned.   In  these
        circumstances,  parties  shall  appear  before  the   Commissioner,
        Workmen’s Compensation (1st Court) West  Bengal  or  its  successor
        Court, as the case may be, on 11.11.2013.
     4. The Appeal stands allowed accordingly.  It is, however, made  clear
        that anything expressed hereinabove shall not be deemed to have  an
        expression of opinion on the merits of the case.


      C.A.No._8279__of 2013
      [Arising out of S.L.P.(C)No.13296 of 2012]


     5. A perusal of the impugned order makes it palpably  clear  that  the
        Appellant-company’s Appeal was dismissed following the decision  in
        FMAT No.1327 of 2010 (Dredging Corporation of India  Ltd.  v.  P.K.
        Bhattacherjee).  In these circumstances, this matter also  requires
        to be remanded to the High Court of Calcutta for a fresh hearing in
        F.M.A. No.869 of 2010.  Parties to appear before the High Court  on
        18.11.2013.
     6. The Appeal stands allowed accordingly.





      .............................................J.
                                             [T.S. THAKUR]




      New                                                              Delhi
      .............................................J.
      September 17, 2013.                    [VIKRAMAJIT SEN]

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