Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias C.P, JJ., directed the government of Kerala to consider the period spent on treatment and hospitalization due to road accident as Special Disability Leave and grant all the benefits related to it.
The writ petitioner, a School Teacher in the G V Higher Secondary School, had met with an accident while she was riding her scooter on her way to school from her residence. Pursuant to which she sustained injuries and was hospitalised and was under treatment during the period from 17-08-2012 to 16-12-2012.
The petitioner claimed the benefit of special disability leave in terms of Rules 97 and 98 of Part I of the Kerala Service Rules [KSR], but her claim was rejected by the Regional Deputy Director, Higher Secondary Education on the ground that that the injury suffered by the petitioner could not be seen as either caused in, or in consequence of the due performance of her official duties or in consequence of her official position. It was essentially stated that the travel from her residence to the school could not be seen as a travel in connection with her employment. The petitioner, therefore, preferred an appeal before the Government, which too was rejected by the same ground.
The petitioner then impugned the said Government Order before this Court, when the Single Judge quashed the impugned order and directed the authority competent to take up the application of the petitioner again and pass a fresh order thereon. Consequently, the respondents once again rejected the claim of the petitioner stating that the accident that occurred in the course of travel of the petitioner from her residence to the school could not be considered as one that occurred during the performance of her official duties.
The Bench observed that after considering the provisions of Rules 97 and 98 of Part I KSR, the Single Judge had found that the injury suffered by the petitioner while she was admittedly, on her way to work had to be seen as an injury suffered consequent on her employment. Accordingly, the Single Judge had directed the respondents to sanction the special disability leave applied for by the petitioner.
Further, the Bench rejected the grounds relied by the respondents by opining that a mere perusal of the provisions of Part I KSR which deal with various kinds of leave would reveal the underlying scheme therein which is that the sanction of various kinds of leave are contemplated only once it is established that the employee-employer relationship continues to exist without interruption. Since, as per the specified provisions the difference in the kinds of leave sanctioned was only in respect of the periods for which an employee could remain absent from work and the monetary benefits, if any, that will be paid to the employee during the said period.
Thus, the Bench stated that when the provisions of Rules 97 and 98 of Part I KSR that prescribe the conditions for the grant of leave are interpreted, the interpretation to be placed must be one that recognizes the above scheme and its intent, and furthers such intent.
In the light of the above, the Bench held that the phrase “caused in, or in consequence of due performance of his official duties or in consequence of his official position”, which appear in both the Rules aforementioned, cannot be construed in a narrow and pedantic fashion so as to exclude a person who was admittedly an employee, who was travelling from her residence to the place of work at the time when the accident took place. Accordingly, the Bench refused to interfere with the liberal view taken by the Single Judge and the appeal was dismissed. [State of Kerala v. Shylaja K. Unnithan, WA No. 1409 of 2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For the State: A.J.Varghese, Sr. Government Pleader
For the Appellant: K.Sasikumar, P.S.Raghukumar, S.Aravind and K.Janardhana Shenoy