Haroon Kupurade Vs. Div. Manager,Oriental Ins. Co. Ltd. & Ors  INSC 93
(8 February 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL No.1638 OF
2010 [Arising out of SLP(C) No.7176 of 2006] RASHIDA HAROON KUPURADE ...
Appellant(s) Versus DIV. MANAGER,ORIENTAL INS. CO.LTD. & ORS ...
O R D E R
Despite notice having been served on the respondent Nos. 2 to 5,
none of them have chosen to appear to oppose the appeal, when it is taken up
for consideration. Learned counsel has, however, entered appearance on behalf
of the respondent No.1/insurance company.
The appeal is directed against an order passed by the Karnataka
High Court in Misc.First Appeal No.3340 of 2004, under Section 30(1) of the
Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') for
setting aside the order dated 31st December, 2003, passed by the Commissioner
for Workmen's Compensation, Sub-Division-I, Belgaum, in Case No.WCA/FSR/1/03.
By the said judgment, the appeal of the insurance company challenging the
compensation awarded by the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation was partly
allowed, upon the finding that since the deceased workman had died of natural
causes, namely, a heart attack, the insurance company could not be fastened
with the liability of making payment of the said award since there was no nexus
between the death of the workman and the accident, which had occurred about six
months prior to his death.
while disposing of the appeal, the High Court observed that at best, the
relationship of employer and employee as between the deceased and the insured
not being in dispute and the death having occurred during and in the course of
employment, liability could be fastened on the employer and not the insurance
company. Leave was, therefore, given to the claimants to recover the
compensation amount from the owner of the vehicle. This appeal has been filed
by the owner of the vehicle against the said observations and directions given
by the High Court.
It has been submitted on behalf of the appellant/owner of the
vehicle that the provisions of Section 3 of the Act had been wrongly
interpreted by the High Court in observing that the liability for the death of
the workman, even if it had no connection with the accident in question, was
with the owner of the vehicle. It has been submitted by Mr. Hegde that Section
3, which sets out the employer's liability for compensation indicates in
Sub-Section (1) that if personal injuries are caused to a workman by accident
arising out of and in the course of his employment, his employer shall be
liable to pay compensation in accordance with the provisions of Chapter II,
which deals with workmen's compensation. Certain exceptions have been carved
out in the proviso to the effect that there had to be some link between the
accident and the death of the employee in order to attract the provisions of
Section 3 as far as the owner of the vehicle is concerned.
On behalf of the respondent/insurance company, it has been sought
to be reiterated that since there was no nexus between the accident and the
death of the employee, the High Court had correctly held that the liability of
making payment under the Award was not with the insurance company.
Having considered the submissions made on behalf of the respective
parties, we are inclined to agree with the submissions made on behalf of the
appellant that the High Court has committed an error in holding that
notwithstanding the fact that there was no connection with the accident and the
death of the workman, the owner of the vehicle in question was still liable to
pay compensation under the provisions of the Act.
In order to better appreciate the submissions made on behalf of
the parties, Section 3(1) of the above Act is extracted herein below:-
"3.Employer's liability for compensation.-(1)....If personal injury is
caused to a workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his
employment, his employer shall be liable to pay compensation in accordance with
the provisions of this Chapter:..............."
It will be clear from the wording of the above Section that
compensation would be payable only if the injury is caused to a workman by
accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. There has to be an
accident in order to attract the provisions of Section 3 and such accident must
have occurred in the course of the workman's employment. As indicated
hereinabove, in the instant case, there is no nexus between the accident and
the death of the workman since the accident had occurred six months prior to
In such circumstances, we are unable to sustain the order of the
High Court and we have no option but to set aside the same as far as the
observations relating to the appellant herein are concerned.
The appeal, therefore, succeeds. The observations made in the
impugned judgment regarding the liability of the appellant herein to make
payment in respect of the Award passed by the Commissioner, Workmen's
Compensation are set aside. The other parts of the judgment are upheld. The
appeal is allowed.
There will be no orders as to costs.
This order will not prevent the heirs of the deceased workman from
taking recourse to any other legal remedy, if available to them.
February 08, 2010.