Excerpt: Having regard to these well accepted principles and the wider concept of the definition of “employment injury” under S. 2(8) of the Act, it may be sufficient if it is proved that the employee having regard to his employment has to be at a particular place and by reason of his being in that particular place he has to suffer an injury by accident. If that much is proved, then a casual connection is established between the accident and his employment and he shall be held to have suffered an employment injury.
Karnataka High Court
Regional Director, E.S.I. … vs L. Ranga Rao And Ors. on
24 June, 1981
ILR 1981 KAR 1255, 1981 (2) KarLJ 197, (1982) ILLJ 29 Kant
Author: J Shetty
Bench: J K Shetty, P Kulkarni
JUDGMENT Jagannatha Shetty, J.
1. This appeal is preferred against the order passed by the Employees Insurance Court on an application made under S. 75 of the Employees Insurance Act, 1948 (called shortly as “the Act”)
2. Briefly stated, the acts in outline are these :
The respondent before us were applicants before the Employees Insurance Court. Their son Sudhindra Kumar was an employee of M/s. Mysore Breweries Ltd., Yeshanthpur, Bangalore. He was working as a Refrigerator Operator in the said factory. On 10th August, 1978 when he was on his way to the factory to join duty in the third shift which was to commence at 10-00 p.m., he was run over by an unidentified motor vehicle causing his death at the spot. Unfortunately the vehicle could not be traced and, therefore, the respondents could not approach the Claims Tribunal constituted under the Motor Vehicle Act.
They moved the Employees Insurance Court under S. 75 of the Act claiming the benefits payable under the Act on the ground that their son died as a result of an employment injury.
The Regional Director of the Employees State Insurance corporation contested the application contending inter alia that the employee was killed in a road accident while walking on a public road and not travelling in a vehicle provided by the employer and, therefore, his death was not out of and in the course of his employment.
But the Insurance Court did not accept the contention of the Regional Director. It held that the death was in the course of the employment, and the dependents are entitled to the benefits payable under the Act.
The Corporation has preferred this appeal challenging the order of the Insurance Court.
The circumstances under which the employee met with an accident are not in dispute. They are summarised in the order under the appeal as follows :
“The evidence of AW-1, RW-1 and RW 2 thus proves the facts that the deceased Sudhindra Kumar was an employee of M/s. Mysore Breweries Ltd. on a monthly salary of Rs. 300; that he was residing at Jayanagar, that the factory did not provide any transport facilities to him to travel from Jayanagar to the factory that on his way to the factory, he had to pass on National Highway No. 4 between Bangalore and Tumkur in front of Suryodhaya Mills, that he died of an accident in front of Suryodhaya Mills about 2 kilometers away from his factory at about 9-45 p.m. on 10-8-78 and that he had to be present for his work in the factory at 10 a.m. The above acts were borne out by the documentary evidence referred to by the witnesses”
3. There is no dispute before us about the accidental death of Sudhindra Kumar at the place above mentioned. There is also no dispute that he was an employee in the “Mysore Breweries Ltd” at the time of his death. What was, however, urged for the appellant was that the deceased was not travelling in the transport provided by the management and was walking on a national Highway like any other member of the public when the accident occurred, and, therefore, he could not be said to have suffered the death in the course of the employment.
4. In our opinion, these contentions are misconceived and misplaced. After the amendment to S. 2(8) enacted by Act 44 of 1966, it is not material where the accident occurred, whether it was inside the factory or outside. It is equally not relevant about the time of the accident whether it was during the office hours or after, S. 2(8) defines ’employment injury’ to mean :
“A personal injury to an employee caused by accident or an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of his employment, being an insurable employment, whether the accident occurs or the occupational disease is contracted within or outside the territorial limits of India.“
In view of this definition, it may now be sufficient if it is proved that the injury to the employee was caused by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, and no matter when it occurred or where it occurred. There is not even a geographical limitation. The accident may occur within or outside the territorial limits of India.
The place or time of the accident, however, should not be totally unrelated to his employment. There should be a nexus or causal connection between the accident and employment. The Supreme Court in B.E.S.T. Undertaking v. Agnes, [1963-II L.L.J. 615], said thus :
“The question, when does an employment begin and when does it cease depends upon the facts of each case. But the Courts have agreed that the employment does not necessarily end when the ‘down tool’ signal is given or when the workman leaves the actual workshops where he is working. There is a notional extension of both the entry and exist by time and space. The scope of such extension must necessarily depend on the circumstances of a given case. An employment may end or may begin not only when the employee begins to work or leaves his tools but also when he uses the means of access and egress to and from the place of employment.”
In Bhagubai v. Central Railway, [1954-II L.L.J. 403], Chief Justice Chagla observed :
“Now, it is clear that there must be a causal connection between the accident and the employment in order that the Court can say that the accident arose out of the employment of the deceased. It is equally clear that the cause contemplated is the proximate cause and not any remote cause. The authorities have clearly laid down that if the employee in the course of his employment has to be in a particular place and by reason of his being in that particular place he has to face a peril and the accident is caused by reason of that peril which he has to face, then a causal connection is established between the accident and the employment.”
Having regard to these well accepted principles and the wider concept of the definition of “employment injury” under S. 2(8) of the Act, it may be sufficient if it is proved that the employee having regard to his employment has to be at a particular place and by reason of his being in that particular place he has to suffer an injury by accident. If that much is proved, then a casual connection is established between the accident and his employment and he shall be held to have suffered an employment injury. We may also point out that it is also immaterial whether an employee was travelling in a public transport vehicle or an omnibus at the time of an accident. It is equally immaterial whether he was going on a public road or a private lane when he suffered an injury. He must have the choice of going in any route which is convenient for him to go, and any mode of conveyance which is economical to him. These matter cannot be considered with any set pattern and greater latitude must be given to the employees in growing cites and towns.
5. Having stated the principles of law, let us now turn to facts found in this case. It is admitted that the employee was run over by a passing vehicle at 9-45 p.m. when he was on his way to join duty in the factory. He was required to join in the factory at 10-00 p.m. The accident occurred at a place which was hardly about two kilometers away from the factory. He had to pass through that place of accident on his way to the factory. But for the fact that he had to join duty, he would have been safe at his residence just like other members of his family. We have, therefore, no hesitation to come to the conclusion that the employees met with the fatal accident in the course of his employment.
6. Mr. Papanna, learned counsel for the appellant, however, contended that since the employee was run over by a public transport vehicle, the injury suffered by him could not be regarded as “employment injury”, since it stands excluded from that category of “employment injury” by S. 51C(1)(b)(ii) of the Act. We do not think that S. 51C has any relevance in this case. That section enlarges the concept of the “employment injury” and not narrows it down. It provides that an accident occurring to the employee while travelling as a passenger in any transport provided by the employer, not being operated in the ordinary course of public transport service, shall be deemed to arise out of and/in the course of his employment. That however, does not mean that if an employee takes a public transport vehicle for his to and fro journey to the factory, the accident occurring therefrom should not be construed as an “employment injury”
Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the order of the Insurance Court is perfectly justified and does not call for interference.
7. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed.
8. Before parting with the case, we think it right to observe that the Corporation should not be a litigant in each and every case. The Act is designed to confer benefits on the disabled employees and their dependents in distress. The machinery for implementing the scheme of State Insurance is provided in the shape of the Corporation and subsidiary agencies. The benefits due to the employees and their dependents have to be promptly worked out and delivered to them and it should be the primary concern of the Corporation. The Corporation should not lightly deny such benefits and drive the parties to litigation. It should ordinarily accept the finding of the Insurance Court and should not prefer appeals in each and every case. We would have been happy if the Corporation had not contested this case, the facts of which were not in dispute before the Insurance Court, or at least not preferred this appeal after the Insurance Court made a well considered order.