Employee killed on duty can get compensation, rules Thane court

Thane: If an employee is murdered while performing his duty, he is eligible for compensation under the Employees Compensation Act, a Thane court has held.

Judge B Y Phad awarded a compensation of Rs 8,61,120 to a woman and her child for the murder of her husband while on duty in 2011.

In their claim, family members Pramiladevi Ram Avtar Singh, 24, Amarkumar Ram Avtar Singh, 6, Jadish Hareram Singh, 56 and Marnidevi Jagdish Singh, 30 of Darbhanga from Bihar stated that the victim was serving as a driver with one Siena D'silva of Mira Road in Thane district. It was on June 28, 2011 while he was driving a Toyota Innova on the Nashik-Pune road in the jurisdiction of Sinnar, in Mohadari Ghat that he was beaten up and murdered. The accused--Shaikh, Naushad Allauddin and Atik Ul-Anola Haque--then escaped with the vehicle. Later, they were arrested.

The family members submitted in their application that deceased Ram Avtar Jagdish Singh was 26 years old and was earning a salary of Rs 8000. They further submitted that he died during the course of his employment and while performing his duty and claimed an amount of Rs 8,61,120 and also additional sum of Rs 2,500 as funeral expenses, Rs 5,000 for transporting the body from Sinnar, and Rs 2000 towards legal expenses adding upto Rs 8,70,620.

The opponents in the case were the owner of the car, and employer of the deceased (D' Silva) and Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd.

The employer confirmed the employer-employee relation but contended that the claim was excessive. He also said that he was not liable for payment of compensation as the vehicle was insured with the insurance company and prayed for discharge from the liability.

The insurance company contested the claim and said the claim was false, vexatious and frivolous. They argued that Singh did not die in an accidental mishap and it was murder. Also, there is no employer-employee relationship between the first opponent and the deceased.

"The insurance company has no knowledge of the relationship of applicants with the deceased. It also denied that the deceased died while in employment of the first opponent. Therefore, insurance company cannot be saddled with payment of penalty and interest," the company submitted in the court.

In his submission, the counsel for claimants, Sameer A Deshpande, informed the court that on that fateful day the deceased was driving the car owned by the first respondent and the accused who committed robbery of the vehicle also killed the employee.

The police papers on record proves the case of the applicant, he said.

Since the deceased died during course of employment of the opponent he is liable to pay the compensation amount to the applicants and the other opponent being insurance company is liable to indemnify the first opponent and pay the said amount to applicants, he submitted.

In support of his submission he cited at least half a dozen rulings of the various High Courts. In his order the judge observed, "having considered the submissions from both sides and evidence on record, I am of opinion that it is necessary to note that even though the applicants and opponent No 1 (employer) have not filed on record any document in regard to the relationship of employer and employee (between the deceased and the opponent) the opponent No 1 has admitted to such a relation.

The judge further noted that the employer has also admitted in cross examination that she was paying wages of Rs 300 per day to the deceased therefore it cannot be said that the claim of the applicants that deceased was receiving wages of Rs 8000 per month is false or baseless.

"In the instant case also the opponent Insurance company has no lead evidence. It has not pleaded about breach of any conditions of the insurance policy. It has not issued any notice to the applicants or opponent No 1, to produce the driving licence of the deceased. The opponent No 1 being the employer is liable to pay the compensation and opponent No 2 being insurer is liable to indemnify the opponent No 1.

"If the insurer can establish to the satisfaction of the tribunal even in execution proceeding that the owner alone and exclusively was responsible for cause of accident to exclusion of the insurer because of breach of the insurance contract then the tribunal may pass necessary order. Therefore, I hold that at this juncture both the opponents are liable to pay the compensation of Rs 8,61,120 jointly and severally," the judge ruled.

The judge also ordered payment of interest at 12 per cent from the date of accident till realisation of the entire amount.

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