Report No. 134
3.2. Need to amend section 2(1)(n) to the extent that it excludes persons whose employment is of casual nature from the purview of the Act.-
The provision in so far as material reads thus:-
'2(1)(n) "workman" means any person (other than a person whose employment is of a casual nature and Who is employed otherwise than for the purposes of the employer's trade or business) who is-
So long as the workman is acting in the course of his employment, a workman who sustains injury or the dependants of a workman who loses his life stand on the same footing as workmen who are regularly employed, regardless of the fact that the employment of the victim of accident was of a casual nature. Since the Act casts the obligation to pay compensation to an injured workman, or the dependants of a workman who loses his life, in order to mitigate the economic distress and economic dislocation visiting the workman or his family, there is no reason why a workman who has been employed on a casual basis should be denied compensation.
Experience shows that such a defence is often taken lightly for the sake of form and it results in a protracted litigation which the injured or the dependants of a deceased workman can ill-afford. Since the provision for compensation is one which has been made with the objective of imposing an obligation to compensate on a person, who carries on hazardous business for the purposes of his profit, for the sake of protecting workmen who are obliged to secure employment in such a hazardous trade or business merely to earn their bread, it would be unfair to exclude workmen who have been employed on a casual basis from the benefits of the benevolent Act on such a ground.
It may have been considered appropriate in 1923 when the Act was framed. But, with the passage of time, in the post-Constitutional era when the considerations of social justice inform the provisions of the Constitution and the Directive Principles embodied in Chapter IV point out the direction in which the legislation has to take steps in order to conform to the conscience of the Constitution, such a provision excluding the casual workmen has become inappropriate.
It would, therefore, be just and proper that the words. "other than person whose employment is of a casual nature and who is employed otherwise than for the purposes of the employer's trade or business" in the bracketed portion of the first paragraph of the definition of section 2(1)(n) are deleted by amending the provision.