MERCHANT STEAM NAVIGATION CO LTD Vs. MOHAMMED KUNJU APPUKKA
LAWS(KER)-1955-7-16
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Decided on July 11,1955

MERCHANT STEAM NAVIGATION CO., LTD. Appellant
VERSUS
MOHAMMED KUNJU APPUKKA Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) This is an appeal by the employer from an order of the Commissioner for Workmens Compensation awarding respondent No. 1 a sum of Rs. 840/- as compensation in respect of an accident and Rs. 20/- as costs of the proceeding. Respondent 1 was a workman employed by the appellants, the Merchant Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., for loading and unloading cargo from s. s. Victoria Marie which was in the Port of Alleppey on 10th November, 1950. The employment was made through respondent 2, the Stevedoring Contractor of respondent 1. On 10th November, 1950 the respondent was engaged in stacking oil drums in hatch No. 2 of the Steamship mentioned and while engaged in that work his right thumb got jammed between two drums, with the result he sustained a cut at the tip of the thumb and the nail got lost. The necessary medical aid was given to the workman and in due course the Alleppey Port Workers Union took up his cause and notified the appellants that they should give him due compensation. Except an amount of Rs. 18/- paid by respondent 2 towards medical charges nothing further was done by respondent 1 or respondent 2. The workman therefore moved the Commissioner for Workmens Compensation and the learned Commissioner found that the average weekly wages of the workman was Rs. 90/- and that the extent of the disability resulting from the accident was 20 per cent. Accordingly he found that as per schedule IV of Act XIII of 1114, (Travancore) the workman was entitled to a compensation of Rs. 840/-. The injury sustained was treated as permanent total disablement of the thumb. Deducting from the said sum of Rs. 840/- the amount of Rs. 18/- paid by respondent 2, an award was made in favour of the workman for Rs. 822/- together with costs (Rs. 20/-) against respondent 1. The appeal is against this decision.
(2.) The learned Advocate General who appeared in support of the appeal raised several points before us and the respondents counsel contended that the appeal itself was incompetent, in as much as no substantial question of law was involved in the appeal. The objection was straightaway overruled as in our opinion a challenge to the legality of the procedure adopted by the Commissioner would constitute a good ground for the appeal. Besides, the Advocate Generals arguments covered various questions of law such as whether the applicant before the Commissioner was a workman within the meaning of the Workmens Compensation Act and whether the injury sustained amounted to any permanent total disablement In the view we take of certain matters of procedure arising in the appeal it is, however, unnecessary to go into the latter questions.
(3.) The first irregularity we notice with respect to the proceedings before the Commissioner is that while the applicant before him, that is, the workman, had not claimed any compensation on the basis that his thumb had sustained permanent total disablement, the Commissioner treated the injury as such and proceeded to award compensation accordingly. On 1.12.1950 the Alleppey Port Workers Union wrote to the Commissioner as follows: Alleppey Port Workers Union (Reg. No. 7) Alleppey. Ref:- 479/26 Date: 01.12.1950 To M/s. Merchant Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., Alleppey. Dear Sirs, Ref:- Accident in S. S. Victoria Marie. With reference to the above accident we have to inform you that Co. Mohemed Kunju Apooka had been admitted in the District Hospital on 10.11.50 and even now he is under treatment and unable to attend to his work. So we have to request you to kindly make necessary arrangements so that his rightful wages and medical charges are immediately paid. Till yesterday he had lost 8 wages. And further we have to inform you that he is liable to receive his medical charges and wages till he is completely cured of. Requesting you once again to do the needful immediately and oblige. Yours faithfully Sd/- President. We cannot treat the demand made here as anything more than a claim for compensation for temporary disablement. The petition before the Commissioner is also couched in similar terms. Para.5 and 6 of the petition and the prayer portion thereof may usefully be quoted here: (5) The applicant is accordingly entitled to receive the rightful wages of compensation till completely cured of for work and an amount of Rs. 50/- for expenses against medical treatment. (6) The applicant has taken the following steps to secure a settlement by agreement namely:- on behalf of the applicant the representative of the Alleppey Port Workers Union approached the Agent and requested him to give the applicant his rightful wages of compensation and the necessary financial aid for the medical treatment; but the Agent declined to do so stating that he is not bound to give such a compensation or monetary aid, and hence it has proved impossible to settle the question in dispute. You are, therefore, requested to determine the following questions in dispute, namely: (a) Whether the opposite party is liable to pay such compensation as is due; (b) whether the opposite party is liable to meet the expenses for medical treatment for the injured thumb of the applicant,;


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