P C ABDULLA KUTTY Vs. CHERIYAMPARAMBATH JANAKI
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
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(1.) THIS is an appeal by an employer who runs a_ saw mill in Beypore in South Malabar against an order by the Additional Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Madras awarding compensation of Rs. 1500 to the widow of one Velayudhan, an employee in the saw mill who is said to have died in consequence of injuries sustained in the course of his employment. It is not disputed that when he was feeding the saw with timber he got his hand cut. There is divergence of testimony as to the extent of the injuries. According to his widow, he was rather seriously cut on three fingers and came home with his hand bandaged saying that he was treated with native medicine by the mill authorities. According to the employer who did not go into the witness-box and examined a driver in his employ, Velayudhan received only a small cut on his little finger. The Commissioner found that the injury was sustained on 21-6-1950 after which Velayudhan came regularly to work till he was taken to the Government hospital and died there the day after he was admitted that is on 13-7-1950, more than three weeks after the receipt of the injuries. According to the hospital inpatient register, Ex. A-1 and his history sheet, Ex. A-2, Velayudhan died of tetanus. The Commissioner held that death was the result of injuries sustained in his employment in the saw mill and finding that he was paid Rs. 1-14-0 a day awarded him compensation of Rs. 1500 in the category of wage earners between Rs. 45 and Rs. 50 a month. The employer's absence from the witness-box a notable omission in his case would justify the admission in toto of the evidence of Velayudhan's widow which there are no grounds for rejecting. Under Section 30, Workmen's Compensation Act no appeal shall lie against any order awarding compensation unless a substantial question of law is involved and unless the amount in dispute in the appeal is not less than Rs. 300. The correctness of findings of fact has been however canvassed before me. Even as regards the category of wage earners in which the Commissioner placed Velayudhan it was urged that he was earning only Rs. 1-10-0 a day on the evidence of the driver examined by the employer and not Rs. 1-14-0 a day. In the widow's application Rs. 1-14-0 was written in figures and Rs. 1-10-0 was written in words. But she claimed Rs. 1500 as compensation rather obviously on the basis of Rs. 1-14-0 a day. In view of the employer not giving evidence in a matter of this kind, the learned Commissioner accepted the evidence of the widow. I am precluded under the Act from interfering with a finding of fact such as this by the Commissioner unless it is so incorrect so opposed to the evidence or so perverse as to be brought into the category of a question of law.
(2.) THE only legal point raised is that in this case no connection has been established between the injuries sustained in the course of Velayudhan's employment and his death in hospital about three weeks later. There is evidence by the widow supported by two other witnesses to the effect that his injuries were treated in the mill and that he got worse. According to P. Ws. 2 and 3, he was also given light work to do in the mill and this evidence) if true, clearly establishes death as being the consequence of cuts he received. It is true that a little more care both on the part of the workman and on the part of the employer and with proper medical attention this workman should ordinarily have been cured of these injuries in the course of a few days. Tetanus may develop as a result of negligence or dirt finding its way into the injury at any time. The evidence shows that the employer knew perfectly well about the injuries this workman had sustained and that he also gave him rough and ready medical attention of a somewhat primitive type. As Mr. Kumaramangalam urges the workman cannot altogether be blamed for relying on this treatment of his injuries which he received in the mill. The Act does not make provision for the reduction of the scheduled compensation on the score of any contributory negligence on the part of a workman who dies in consequence of injuries he receives in the course of his employment, which ordinarily would not be fatal or which in fact as in the present case are simple.
(3.) THE learned advocate for the employer has attempted an argument on the analogy of criminal law which finds a man guilty only of simple hurt although the simple hurt caused may, as a result of other circumstances including the neglect of the person injured, or the inadequacy of medical treatment, may prove fatal. That analogy cannot however apply in all cases to compensation awardable under the Workmen's Compensation Act, particularly in a case of this kind where the employer knew of the injuries sustained by his workman, took it upon himself to give him medical treatment and last but by no means least, avoided coming before the Commissioner and giving evidence on matters which were best known to him. I can see no legal grounds for any interference with the order of compensation passed and dismiss the appeal with costs.;
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