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WORKMAN ENGAGED ON CONTRACT - EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT, 1923 - SECTION 12 - (A person doing contractual work does not qualify as a workman under the E.C. Act.) - The Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923

The deceased Savant Chauriwar was doing work of mounting, rubbing and polishing tiles. Respondent nos. 1 to 3 are the legal heirs of the deceased. The said Savant was engaged by the appellants for fitting and shifting tiles of their residential house. The said work was actually being done by deceased Savant himself. While he was doing the said work, electric current passed through the polishing machine as a result of which he sustained a severe shock and died on the spot. According to the respondents the deceased met his death in the course of employment and therefore, the appellants were liable to pay compensation to them. They filed an application under E.C. Act and claimed compensation of Rs.76,420/-. The application was opposed by the appellants who contended that the accident in question occurred due to the defective polishing machine and lack of care on the part of the deceased. The Commissioner under the E.C. Act, on appreciation of evidence came to the conclusion that the deceased died in the course of employment. Accordingly, the Commissioner held the appellants liable to pay compensation of Rs.3,79,120/- along with interest at the rate of 6% p.a. Being aggrieved thereby the appellants have preferred the present appeal contending that the deceased was not a "Workman" within the meaning of Section 2(1)(n) of the Act. It was also contended that the nature of the work entrusted to the deceased clearly indicated that the appellants were not employers and the deceased was not their employee.

The High Court pointed out the definition of the term "Workman" as given in Section 2(1 )(n) of the E.C. Act and observed that the engagement of the deceased was of casual nature and there was no relationship of employer and employee between the appellants and the deceased. The High Court relied upon the decision in the case of Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited wherein it was held by the Supreme Court that the expression 'Workman" is not intended to cover a casual worker. The High Court therefore answered the substantial question of law by- holding that in the absence of employer-employee relationship between the appellants and the deceased, the Commissioner simply relying upon the period of service rendered by the deceased was not justified in holding that the appellants were liable to pay compensation. In this view of the matter, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order passed by the Commissioner was set aside.

-Haribhau@ Harishchandra Jagoji Singade and another v. Smt. Anita and others. (H.C.Bom. 2017.)


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