Decided on July 04,1958

B. Rowell Roy Appellant
Ka Thili Nonglyer Respondents


G. Mehrotra, J. - (1.)THIS is an appeal under Section 30 of the Workmen's Compensation Act (Act 8 of 1923) against an order of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, United Khasi -Jaintia Hills, Shillong. It is not disputed that the Workmen's Compensation Act has been made applicable to this area by virtue of a Regulation. On 27 -9 -1957, the aforesaid Commissioner fixed the amount of compensation to be Rs. 2400/ - and directed the contractor B. Rowell Roy to deposit the amount with the Commissioner for payment to the dependant of the deceased.
The facts are that on 14 -9 -1955, the Executive Engineer, Public Works Department, M. B. Road Division, Shillong, reported that U Sympher the workmen died on 10 -9 -1955 due to the fall of a large boulder while he was working at mile 15/1F of the Umwaimawshamok Road. On 28 -12 -1955, the Executive Engineer intimated by his letter or even date that the workman U Sympher met with the fatal accident while he was engaged at the work under a P. W. D. contractor, Sri B. Rowell Roy the appellant. Notice was accordingly issued on the contractor under Section 10A of the Workmen's Compensation Act on 18 -6 -1956. The contractor, in reply to the notice, denied his liability to pay compensation mainly on two grounds.

His contention first was that he was a contractor on behalf of the Government Department: and that it was the Public Works Department which was liable, under Section 12 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, to pay the compensation, and not he. The next point urged by the contractor was that there was nothing in the contract between him and the Public Works Department under which he was liable to pay compensation to any workman or his dependants if the workman died or received injury during the work.

The Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation repelled those contentions and after calculating the amount of compensation which was payable to the dependant of the deceased workman, directed that a sum of Rs. 2400/ - should be paid to her. Before this order had been passed on. 27 -12 -1955, the dependant of the deceased workman had applied for payment of compensation and that application was also considered by the Commissioner along with the proceedings under Section 10A of the Act in question.

The contention raised by the counsel for the appellant is that the proper procedure was not followed in the case. Section 10A of the Act in question only provides that on receiving information that a workman has died as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, the Commissioner has to send by registered post a notice to the workman's employer asking him to deposit compensation. In case he denies his liability, the only order which can be passed by the Commissioner for compensation is to inform the dependant or dependants of the deceased workman that he or they are entitled to prefer a claim for compensation.

There is no power given to the Commissioner under Section 10A to determine the amount of compensation and the liability of the employer. In case there is an application preferred by the dependant claiming compensation, then the application is to be treated as one under Section 22 of the Act, and thereafter the compensation officer acts as a Civil Court in deciding the application.

The procedure to be followed by the compensation officer has been provided under Rules 23 to 29 of the rules framed under the Act in question. Notice is to be given of the application to the employer and the Department concerned. They have got a right to produce evidence and after considering the evidence produced by the parties, the Commissioner has to determine the amount and direct payment of the said amount of compensation. But in the present case, it is admitted that the procedure provided under Rules 23 to 29 of the rules framed under the Act was not followed.

It is contended by the counsel for the respondent that on notice being issued to the employer under Section 10A, the Commissioner made an enquiry and determined the amount of compensation. The amount was determined according to the schedule, and it is not necessary to give a second opportunity to the employer to produce evidence in support of his denial. As regards the claim of the employer that it was the Public Works Department which was liable to pay compensation, it was contended that Section 12 of the Act did not apply, and that the Public Works Department was not carrying on any business.

These are matters which could have been gone into by the Commissioner after giving an opportunity to the Public Works Department to appear. The Commissioner, after giving notice to the employer and after having received his reply, could not summarily award compensation. It is contended, therefore, that the procedure provided for the determination of the amount of compensation has not been followed and the liability for the payment of compensation, has not been properly determined.

The appellant further urges that he has already deposited a sum of Rs. 600/ - which ought to have been deducted from Rs. 2400/ - awarded as compensation. That matter has also not been gone into by the Commissioner. In the result, therefore, we are of opinion that the order of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation is erroneous inasmuch as the proper procedure was not followed by him. We accordingly set aside the order of the Commissioner, dated 27 -9 -1957 and sent back the case to him for proper enquiry. The application filed by the dependant of the deceased workman on 27 -12 -1955 will be treated as a proper application under Section 22 of the Act, and the Commissioner will determine the liability of the contractor after giving notice to the Public Works Department. In the circumstances, we make no order for costs.

Sarjoo Prosad, C.J.

(2.)I agree.

Click here to view full judgement.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.