SC: Appeal u/s 30 of Workmen’s Comp. Act to be heard only on question of law.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, today, i.e. on 02.11.2018, in the matter of North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation v. Smt. Sujatha held that an appeal to the High Court u/s 30 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 is not like a Regular First Appeal akin to Section 96 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 which can be heard both on facts and law. The appellate jurisdiction of the High Court to decide the appeal is confined only to examine the substantial questions of law arising in the case.

The Hon’ble Apex Court among other things observed that:

(Para 9) When an employee suffers any bodily injury or dies during the course of his employment and he/his LRs sue/s his employer to claim compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, Some of the material issues which arise for the just decision of the Commissioner in a claim petition are:

  • Whether the employee met with an accident ?
  • Whether the accident occurred during the course of employment ?
  • Whether it arose out of an employment ?
  • How and in what manner the accident occurred ?
  • Who was negligent in causing the accident ?
  • Whether there existed any relationship of employee and employer?
  • What was the age and monthly salary of the employee ?
  • How many are the dependents of the deceased employee ?
  • To what extent has the disability been caused to the employee due to injuries suffered in an accident ?
  • Whether there was any insurance coverage obtained by the employer to cover the incident ?

The afore­mentioned questions are essentially the questions of fact and, therefore, they are required to be proved with the aid of evidence. Once they are proved either way, the findings recorded thereon are regarded as the findings of fact. (Para 10)

Under Section 30 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, the appeal to the High Court against the order of the Commissioner is not like a Regular First Appeal akin to Section 96 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 which can be heard both on facts and law. The appellate jurisdiction of the High Court to decide the appeal is confined only to examine the substantial questions of law arising in the case.  (Para 12)

When an employer files the appeal, he is under a legal obligation to deposit the entire awarded sum in terms of second proviso to Section 30 of the Act as a pre­condition to file the appeal in the High Court except where the appeal is filed against the order falling in clause (b).  (Para 13)

It is only when the employer deposits the entire awarded money along with the memo of appeal duly certified by the Commissioner, his appeal is regarded as being properly filed in conformity with the requirement of Section 30 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923. (Para 14)

Such appeal is then heard on the question of admission with a view to find out as to whether it involves any substantial question of law or not. Whether the appeal involves a substantial question of law or not depends upon the facts of each case and needs an examination by the High Court. If the substantial question of law arises, the High Court would admit the appeal for final hearing on merit else would dismiss in limini (at a preliminary stage)with reasons that it does not involve any substantial question/s of law.  (Para 15)

(Para 21) An employer becomes liable to pay compensation as soon as the personal injury is caused to the workman in the accident which arose out of and in the course of employment. It is the date of the accident and not the date of adjudication of the claim, which is material.(Pratap Narain Singh Deo Vs. Srinivas Sabata & Anr. ((1976) 1 SCC 289: AIR 1976 SC 222))

Copy of judgement: Judgement 02-Nov-2018

-Tushar Kaushik

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