REGIONAL DIRECTOR EMPLOYEES STATE INSURANCE Vs. COCHIN PORT WORKSHOP CANTEEN
LAWS(KER)-2003-1-50
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Decided on January 09,2003

REGIONAL DIRECTOR Appellant
VERSUS
COCHIN PORT WORKSHOP CANTEEN Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) THE parties in these two appeals are one and the same. The question involved also is the same. These appeals are filed by the first opposite party in I. C. No. 80 of 1993 and I. C. No. 108 of 1993 respectively of the Employees' Insurance Court, Alappuzha. Challenging the order passed by the appellant demanding payment of contribution with interest for the period from March 11, 1991, to March 10, 1992, and from April 1991, to September 1992, respectively, the applicant filed the above said cases. The first respondent herein was conducting a canteen for the benefit of the workers of the Cochin Port Trust, in the harbour premises. The only contention taken by the first respondent was that the factories belonging to the Cochin Port Trust were exempted from the operation of the provisions of the Employees' State Insurance Act. So, the first respondent who was the contractor under the Cochin Port Trust is not liable to pay contribution to the appellant. The Employees' Insurance Court accepted the contention of the first respondent and set aside the impugned orders against which these appeals are filed by the first opposite party, the Regional Director, Employees' State Insurance Corporation, Thrissur.
(2.) THE only question to be considered is whether the first respondent is not liable to pay any contribution to the appellant under the Employees' State Insurance Act and whether the first respondent is the employee of the Cochin Port Trust which is an exempted establishment.
(3.) IT is submitted by learned counsel for the appellant that the first respondent is liable to pay contribution to the workers employed by him and he is not entitled to get the benefit of exemption. As per the first respondent, the third respondent is the principal employer and the first respondent is a contractor under the Cochin Port Trust, the third respondent. So, the canteen employees are the workers of the Cochin Port Trust and it is exempted from the provisions of the Employees' State Insurance Act. The canteen is admittedly a statutory canteen. So, even if they are employed through the first respondent, they are employees of the Cochin Port Trust. Admittedly, there is no dispute in respect of the fact that the canteen in question was being run by the first respondent. It is stated in the petition itself that the canteen is situated in the premises of the Cochin Port Trust and is being run under the supervision of the second respondent herein, Cochin Port Trust for the benefit of the Cochin Port Trust employees. It is his further case that at no point of time, there were more than 19 employees in the canteen. All the employees were casual employees. So, the first respondent is not liable to pay contribution under the Employees' State Insurance Act. The principal employer is the second respondent herein who is exempted from the provisions of the Employees' State Insurance Act. As per Section 2 (13) of the Employees' State Insurance Act, the first respondent contractor is the immediate employer of the second respondent herein. The immediate employer will be liable to pay employees' contribution, if he has undertaken the execution of any work of the factory or establishment in the premises of which the Employees' State Insurance Act applies, There is no dispute with regard to the fact that the canteen premises belong to the Cochin Port Trust. As per the Gazette notification dated September 13, 1952, factories belonging to the Port Administration are exempted from the Employees' State Insurance Act. The canteen is being conducted in the Port Workshop, Willingdon Island. So, as per the notification, the Cochin Port Trust is an exempted establishment. The canteen conducted by the first respondent is a statutory canteen is not disputed by the appellant. The first respondent is the immediate employer of the Cochin Port Trust. The canteen is being conducted by him as an agent of the principal employer on the basis of the contractual agreement between them. So, the first respondent is liable to pay contribution only if the factory or establishment in which he is carrying work as the contractor is liable to pay contribution to the Employees' State Insurance Scheme. Admittedly, it is an exempted establishment. In such circumstances, it is to be found that the Court below has rightly appreciated the evidence and set aside the orders passed by the appellant. There is no merit in the appeals and hence the same are dismissed.;


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