The Madras High Court Bench here has set aside an order passed by the Labour Officer, Social Protection Scheme, Dindigul district, refusing to grant compensation to the husband of a construction labourer who died after a minivan in which she was travelling to her workplace met with an accident on December 8, 2007.

Disposing of a writ petition filed by R. Antony, husband of A. Maria, Justice K. Chandru remitted the matter back to the Labour Officer for considering afresh the grant of compensation to the petitioner under the Group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme, which covers the workers under the Tamil Nadu Construction Workers Welfare Scheme, 1994.

Judge disagrees with counsel

The judge disagreed with the submissions made by a government counsel that compensation could be granted only if the labourer had died in the course of her employment. He recalled that the High Court in 2007 had granted compensation, under the Tamil Nadu Manual Workers Social Security and Welfare Scheme, even to the dependant of an individual who was murdered.

Further, pointing out that the present petitioner's wife had died on her way to the work spot, the judge recalled that the Supreme Court in Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co., (P) Ltd. Vs. Ibrahim Mahammad Issak (1970) had held that compensation could be granted if there was a casual relationship between the accident and the employment.

“The words ‘arising out of employment' must be understood to mean that during the course of the employment, injury (or death) has resulted from some risk incidental to the duties of the service, which, unless engaged in the duty, owing to the master, it is reasonable to believe the workman would not otherwise have suffered,” the apex court had observed.

In yet another judgement in 2006, the Supreme Court had said: “The expression ‘accident' means an untoward mishap, which is not expected or designed.

"Injury" means physiological injury. In Fenton v. Thorley & Co. Ltd. [1903 AC 443] it was observed that the expression "accident" is used in the popular and ordinary sense of the word as denoting an unlooked for mishap or an untoward event which is not expected or designed.”

In so far as the present case was concerned, the Group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme which covers the workers under the Tamil Nadu Construction Workers Welfare Scheme, 1994 excludes only intentional self injury, suicide, attempted suicide, injury caused while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs or caused by insanity or resulting from the insured persons committing any breach of law or rules or regulations or instructions applicable from time to time.

“None of the exclusionary clause applies to the case of the petitioner's wife. Therefore, the liability of the insurer can never be whisked away,” Mr. Justice Chandru said.