Labour Commissioner, Orissa, Bhubaneswar Vs.
Abhimanyu Gouda & ANR  INSC 808 (4 November 1997)
MAJMUDAR, M. JAGANNADHA RAO
4TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 1997 Present:
Mr. Justice S.B. Majmudar Hon'ble Mr. Justice M. Jagannadha Rao Ms. Meena Chakraborty,
and Raj Kumar Mehta, Advs. for the appellant
following Judgment of the Court was delivered;
MAJMUDAR, J In this appeal by special leave the order of the High Court of Orissa
at Cuttack dated August 17, 1981 passed in Civil Revision No.2 of 1981 has been brought in
question involved is one or jurisdiction of the Deputy Labour Commissioner, Orissa
to entertain claims for workmen's compensation in connection with the accident
caused to the workmen in the course of and arising out of employment at Rourkela
in Orissa State. The High Court in the impugned judgment has refused to review
its earlier decision to the effect that it is only the Labour Commissioner at Rourkela who could have entertained the claim
and not the Deputy Labour Commissioner, Orissa.
relevant facts leading to this proceeding may be noted at the outset. One Smt. Dukhi
Jena, respondent No.2 herein who is shown to be the proforma respondent filed a
claim petition before the Deputy Labour Commissioner-cum- commissioner for
workmen's Compensation, Orissa, Bhubaneswar, claiming compensation from
Respondent No.1, Abhimanyu Gouda on the ground that her deceased husband was a Khalasi
in a truck belonging to Abhimanyu Gouda. He met with a fatal accident on May 9, 1974 in the vicinity of Rourkela town in the State of Orissa. The appellant is the authority before who such claim was raised. The
appellant after hearing the parties exercised his jurisdiction as Commissioner
for Workmen's Compensation and awarded an amount of Rs. 8,000/- by way of
compensation to respondent No.2 and made it payable by the respondent No.1.
Being aggrieved by the order of the appellant, the Deputy Labour
Commissioner-cum-Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Orissa at Bhubaneswar,
the respondent No.1, the owner of the truck filed an appeal in the High Court
of Orissa being Miscellaneous Appeal No.289 of 1997. The High Court by its
judgment dated November 12, 1980 allowed the appeal of the respondent No.1 by
holding that the appellant, Deputy Labour Commissioner, Orissa at Bhubaneswar
had no jurisdiction to entertain the claim petition filed by the respondent
No.2 It is pertinent to note that the appellant was not made a party in that
appeal nor was any opportunity given to the appellant to have his say in
connection with his jurisdiction to entertain the claim petition. The High
Court held that since the accident had taken place outside the jurisdiction of
the appellant, only the Commissioner for workmen's Compensation at Rourkela could entertain the claim petition
and not the appellant.
appellant having come to know about the aforesaid decision of the High Court
moved the High Court in a review petition which came to be disposed of on
August 17,1981 by the impugned order which recites that the application was not
maintainable and the opposite party ( O.P. ) states that he will file a
separate petition for review of the judgment was not brought to the notice of
the High Court and he was permitted to file such application.
state at this state that against the original order of the High Court dated November 12, 1980, the respondent No.2, the original
claimant, filed a civil appeal being C.A. No. 10106 of 1983 before this Court. this
court by order dated October
28, 1983 directed the
Insurance Company to pay a sum of Rs. 8000/- to the respondent No.2 in full and
final settlement of her claims against the Insurance Company. In addition
thereto, this Court directed the respondent No.1 to pay an equal amount of Rs.
8000/- to the respondent No.2. It was further directed that out of Rs. 14,000/-
deposited by the respondent No.1 before the Deputy Labour Commissioner, Rs.
8,000/- will be paid to the respondent No.2. It is also not in dispute that
pursuant to the order of this court the Insurance Company paid a sum of Rs.
8,000/- to the respondent No.2 and out of the deposited amount of Rs. 14,000/-
by the respondent No.1, an amount of Rs. 8,000/- was to be paid to the
respondent No.2 and the balance amount of Rs. 6,000/- plus interest was to be
refunded to the respondent No.1. In view of the aforesaid decision of this
Court in C.A. No. 10106 of 1983 it can be stated that the question of
jurisdiction of the appellant- Commissioner would not survious for serious
consideration as the claimant-respondent No.2 has been ordered to be paid the
full amount of compensation claimed by her against the respondent No.1. Still
however as the appellant is aggrieved by the decision of the High Court on the
question of jurisdiction which affects large number of claim petitions under
the Act, we now proceed to examine the controversy about the jurisdiction of
the appellant to entertain the original claim petition of the respondent No.2.
So far as this question is concerned, we must note that before the High Court
in the review proceeding it was submitted that there was already notification
issued by the State of Orissa conferring jurisdiction on the appellant to
entertain such claims under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 in connection
with the accidents which might have occurred in any part of the State of Orissa.
When such a notification was pressed in service we fail to appreciate as to how
the High Court was justified in not entertaining the review petition when e
relevant notification was earlier not brought to its notice specially when the
appellant was not given an opportunity to point out the notification before the
High Court, as he was not a party nor any notice was issued to him in
connection with that case. Therefore, it must be held that the order on review
petition dated August
17, 1981 passed by the
High Court cannot be sustained and has to be set aside.
moot question is as to whether the High Court was right in rejecting on the
ground of jurisdiction of the Commissioner the claim of the respondent No.2
against the respondent No.1 in connection with the fatal accident caused to her
deceased husband during the course of and arising out of the employment of
respondent No.2's husband under respondent No.1 it is true that the accident
had taken place near Rourkela. Our attention was invited to the notification
issued on July 2, 1965 by the State of Orissa in Labour, Employment and Housing
Department. The said notification was issued in exercise of the overs conferred
on the State by sub-section (1) of section 20 of the Workmen's Compensation
Act, 1923. The Offices listed therein in column (1) were ordered to be
Commissioners for workmen's compensation with respective jurisdiction as
specified in column (2) of the said notification against each of the listed
officers. At Column (2) in the said notification was listed the Deputy
Commissioner, Orissa, Bhubaneswar, the appellant herein and the area of his
jurisdiction is shown to be the whole of the State of Orissa. Therefore, the
appellant had jurisdiction to entertain the claims for workmen's compensations
in connection with the accidents arising in any part of the State of Orissa for which claims were to be lodged
under the Act against the employers. If this notification had been seen by the
High Court it could never have held that the appellant had no jurisdiction to
entrain the claim petition.
not in dispute that though the accident took place in 1974 the aforesaid
notification of July 2, 1965 held the field, Therefore, there is no escape from
the conclusion that the appellant at the relevant time in 1974 when the
accident took place had jurisdiction to entertain the claims petition. The
order of the High Court taking the contrary view is therefore, quashed and set
aside. The appeal is accordingly allowed. There would be no order as to costs.