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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Workmen compensation- Accident – fixation of compensation – payment of interest whether from the date of accident or from the date of award – Apex court held yes – from the date of accident and set aside the High court order and further held that The decisions in Mubasir Ahmed and Mohd. Nasir insofar as they took a contrary view to the earlier decisions in Pratap Narain Singh Deo and Valsala K. do not express the correct view and do not make binding precedents = SABERABIBI YAKUBBHAI SHAIKH & ORS. Petitioner(s) VERSUS NATIONAL INS.CO.LTD.& ORS. Respondent(s)= published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41127= http://courtnic.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp

                                                                  REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                         CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8 OF 2014
       [Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.8569 of 2013]




           SABERABIBI YAKUBBHAI SHAIKH
           & ORS.                                 ...APPELLANTS


                                 VERSUS


           NATIONAL INSURANCE CO. LTD.
           & ORS.                                 ...RESPONDENTS


                                    ORDER


           1.    Delay condoned.


           2.    Leave granted.


           3.    The appellants are the wife and the relatives of  deceased
           driver who died in a road  accident.  The  deceased  driver  was
           driving a truck bearing No. GJ-17-T-8607,  which  was  owned  by
           Yunusbhai  Gulambhai  Shaikh,  respondent  No.2   herein.    The
           deceased was 36 years of age at the time of  the  accident.   On
           20th  November,  1996,  the  appellants  raised   a   claim   of
           compensation for a sum of Rs.2,15,280/- and 12% interest therein
           from the date of accident by filing a claim  application  before
           the  Workmen  Compensation  Commissioner/Labour  Court.    After
           passage of more than 16 years, the  wife  and  children  of  the
           deceased driver had still not received any compensation.
                                                                      ...2/-




                                     :2:


           4.    The appellants filed a compensation application before the
           Workmen Compensation Commissioner/Labour Court on 20th November,
           1996. The appellants made a  claim  of  Rs.2,15,280/-  and  also
           penalty to the tune of 50% of the compensation  i.e.  a  sum  of
           Rs.1,07,640/-, thus, making the grand  total  of  Rs.3,22,920/-.
           Respondent  No.1-   the   Insurance   Company,   contested   the
           compensation application.  On 23th December, 2010,  the  learned
           Commissioner awarded compensation on account of death in the sum
           of Rs.2,13,570/- with 12% interest from the  date  of  accident.
           The learned Commissioner also awarded Rs.1,06,785/- as penalty.


           5.    Aggrieved and dissatisfied with the aforesaid judgment and
           award passed by the learned Commissioner, the Insurance  Company
           filed First Appeal before the High Court.


           6.    By judgment and order, dated 24th January, 2012, the  High
           Court has partly allowed  the  First  Appeal.   The  High  Court
           directed the respondent No.1 - Insurance Company to pay interest
           on the amount   of   compensation   from   the   date   of
                                                                      ...3/-






                                     :3:


           adjudication of claim application i.e. 23th December,  2010  and
           not from one month after from the date  of  accident  i.e.  21st
           August, 1996.  A further direction was issued  that  the  excess
           amount towards interest, if any,  deposited  by  the  respondent
           No.1 – Insurance Company be refunded to it.   The  judgment  and
           order of the Commissioner for Workmen Compensation was  modified
           to that extent.


           7.    In coming to the aforesaid  conclusion,  the  High   Court
           relied upon the judgment of this Court reported in Uttar Pradesh
           State  Road  Transport  Corporation  now  Uttarakhand  Transport
           Corporation versus Satnam Singh, (2011) 14 SCC 758,  wherein  it
           has been held that the interest was payable  under  the  Workmen
           Compensation Act from the date of the Award  and  not  from  the
           date of accident.


           8.    Aggrieved by the aforesaid judgment of the Hgh Court,  the
           appellants have filed the present appeal.
                                                                      ...4/-








                                     :4:
           9.    Learned counsel for the appellants has submitted that  the
           aforesaid judgment of the High Court is contrary to the law laid
           down by this Court in the case  of  Oriental  Insurance  Company
           Limited versus Siby George and others [(2012) 12 SCC 540].


           10.   We have perused the aforesaid judgment.   We  are  of  the
           considered opinion that the aforesaid judgment  relied  upon  by
           the learned counsel for the appellants is  fully  applicable  to
           the facts and circumstances of this case.  This Court considered
           the earlier judgment relied upon by the High Court and  observed
           that the judgments in the case of National Insurance Co. Ltd. v.
           Mubasir Ahmed [(2007) 2 SCC 349] and Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd.
           v. Mohd. Nasir [(2009) 6 SCC 280] were per incuriam having  been
           rendered without considering the  earlier  decision   in  Pratap
           Narain Singh Deo v. Srinivas Sabata [(1976) 1 SCC 289].  In  the
           aforesaid judgment, upon consideration of the entire  matter,  a
           four-judge Bench of this Court had held  that  the  compensation
           has to be paid from the date of the accident.
                                                                      ...5/-








                                     :5:


           11.   Following the aforesaid judgments, this Court in  Oriental
           Insurance Company Limited versus Siby George and others  (supra)
           reiterated the legal position and held as follows:


                 “11.    The Court then referred to a Full  Bench  decision
                of the Kerala High Court in United India Insurance Co. Ltd.
                v. Alavi  and  approved  it  insofar  as  it  followed  the
                decision in Pratap Narain Singh Deo.


                 12.     The decision in  Pratap Narain Singh Deo was by  a
                four-judge Bench and in Valsala K. by a  three-judge  Bench
                of this  Court.   Both  the  decisions  were,  thus,  fully
                binding on the Court in Mubasir Ahmed and Mohd. Nasir, each
                of  which  was  heard  by  two  Judges.   But  the  earlier
                decisions in  Pratap Narain Singh Deo and Valsala  K.  were
                not brought to the notice of the Court  in  the  two  later
                decisions in Mubasir Ahmed and Mohd. Nasir.


                 13.     In the light of the decisions  in   Pratap  Narain
                Singh Deo and Valsala K., it is not open  to  contend  that
                the payment of compensation would fall due only  after  the
                Commissioner's order or with reference to the date on which
                the claim application is made.  The  decisions  in  Mubasir
                Ahmed and Mohd. Nasir insofar as they took a contrary  view
                to the earlier decisions in  Pratap Narain  Singh  Deo  and
                Valsala K. do not express the correct view and do not  make
                binding precedents.”


                                                                      ...6/-








                                     :6:


           12.   In view of the aforesaid settled proposition of  law,  the
           appeal is allowed and the judgment and order of the  High  Court
           is set aside.  The appellants shall be entitled to  interest  at
           the rate of 12% from the date of the accident.


           13.   No cost.






                                                     ....................,J.
                                                     (SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR)




                                          ...............................,J.
                                          (FAKKIR MOHAMED IBRAHIM KALIFULLA)
           NEW DELHI
           JANUARY 02, 2014

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