Decided on August 22,2017

Sri Krishna Das Respondents


T.VAIPHEI,C.J. - (1.) This appeal preferred by the insurer under Section 30 of the Employee's Compensation Act, 1923 (earlier known as "Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923") was admitted by this Court to hear on the following questions of law: 1. Whether the claimant-respondent was an employee in terms of the provisions of the Employee's Compensation Act, 1923 at the time of the alleged accident? 2. Whether the claimant-respondent suffered any injury in course of his employment and thereby liable to be compensated by the appellant?
(2.) Before proceeding further, we may briefly notice the relevant facts of the case. The respondent No. 1 filed a claim petition before the learned Commissioner, Workmen's Compensation (as it then was called), West Tripura stating that he was a driver by occupation and was engaged by the respondent No. 2 on temporary basis to drive the Mini Bus bearing registration number TR-01-A-1312 as the permanent driver was on leave. He accordingly joined on 6-10-2010 and started his scheduled journey from Agartala Radhanagar towards Kamalpur via Khowai with the said bus along with some passengers including the assistant of the bus and also the owner of another bus bearing registration No. TR-01-1299. As he was moving towards Kamalpur from Khowai, at about 3-45 PM, when he reached Belbari driving the Mini Bus, he suddenly ran into serious physical problems rendering his physical condition beyond control and after he barely managed to stop the vehicle, he became almost senseless. He subsequently came to learn that the owner of the Mini Bus and the owner of the other Bus and other passengers brought him at first Belbari Hospital by hiring a Jeep and was thereafter shifted to Khowai Hospital. On reference, he was again shifted to AGMC and GBP Hospital, Agartala and was treated there as indoor patient till 12-10-2010. The illness of the respondent No. 1 was stated to be what is popularly known as "stroke". During his treatment at GBP Hospital, CT Scan of his brain was done and as per this report, he was stated to be suffering from 'A large acute ICH with mild parietal Oedma is seen in the left Thalama-Capsular and Peri ventricular region'. According to the respondent No. 1, even after his release from GB Hospital on 12-10-2010, due to the stroke, his right hand and leg became paralyzed. He was advised for review of his condition from time to time by visiting OPD regularly and was told that for improving his paralysis disease, long treatment was required. He also had to take medicine from time to time. Though he was a professional driver with a valid driving licence at the time of the accident, he has now been rendered workless as right hand and right leg had become paralyzed. The District Disablement Board on 8-12-2010 issued a disablement certificate to him certifying his disability to the extent of 80%. At the time of accident, he was engaged by the respondent No. 2 with a salary of Rs. 5,000/- per month along with daily allowance at the rate of Rs. 50/- per day. He claimed that he was 31 years at the time of the accident. He also claimed that he was the only earning member in the family comprising of his wife and children. He claimed that notice under section 10 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 was issued to the respondent No. 2 by registered post on 11-4-2011 but the same was returned unserved as he was unavailable at that time at his residential address. Claiming a compensation of Rs. 5,00,000/-, he filed the claim petition before the learned Commissioner, Workmen's Compensation, Agartala.
(3.) The respondent No. herein contested the claim petition wherein he admitted that he was the registered owner of the Mini Bus, but asserted that the claimant was engaged as the driver of the Mini Bus for that particular trip on that day for Rs. 200/- and was never engaged on a monthly salary basis. He, however, conceded that his vehicle was insured with the appellant-insurer at the time of the accident and should any compensation be awarded, the same was to be satisfied by the insurer and not by him. The appellant-insurer of the Mini Bus also contested the claim petition and denied the averments of the claimant and denied any liability to pay the compensation. The appellant also took the stance that the injury sustained by the claimant did not occur in the course of his employment under the respondent No. 1 and the claimant was not, therefore, entitled to any compensation.;

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