Bombay High Court: S.G. Mehare, J. allowed an appeal against the order passed by the Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation and Judge Labour Court dated July 30, 2001.
Appellant was a driver with respondent 1 who owned a truck which was insured with respondent 2. He met with a vehicular accident on April 13, 1997, sustained the injury to his femur and toe of the left leg. He sustained 35% physical disability. He was employed with respondent 2 on the day of the accident. He could not work as before the accident. He served the notices to both respondents. However, none of the respondents paid him the compensation. Thus, he filed application under Section 3 and 22 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923 (now Employees Compensation Act 1923) where Commissioner rejected his Claim for the reason that the appellant had already approached the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and had received the compensation under section 140 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 (hereinafter ‘M.V. Act’) making the claim barred under section 167 of the M.V. Act. Hence, the instant appeal.
The counsel for the appellant argued that Commissioner has misread and misinterpreted section 167 of the M.V. Act. An application under Section 140 of M.V. Act has been excepted from the bar envisaged in Section 169 of M.V. Act and an application for compensation either under the Workmen’s Compensation Act or M.V. Act, is maintainable.
Counsel for respondent 2 argued that appellant was exercising the remedies simultaneously by suppressing the material facts from the court.
The point of consideration for the Court was, “Whether the compensation granted under chapter X of the M.V. act forfeits the right of the employee to claim the compensation under section 3 of the 1923 Act as provided under Section 167 of the M.V. Act ?”
The Court reproduced Section 167 of the M.V. Act and explained that words in section 167 of M.V.Act, “Without prejudice to the provisions of Chapter X”, are self speaking to interpret the said section that an application decided by the Claims Tribunal under section 140 of the said Act, does not bar the employee from availing remedy for compensation under the 1923 Act on the principles envisaged in the said Act. Reading section 167 would reveal that chapter X of the M.V. Act has no application while opting for the forum to claim the compensation.
The reliefs granted under chapter X of the M.V. Act would not come in the way of claiming compensation before the Commissioner of Employee’s Compensation or the Claims Tribunal.
The Court concluded that, Where the employee receives compensation under Chapter X of the M.V. Act, his remedy to seek compensation either under the 1923 Act or the M.V. Act cannot be forfeited under section 167. Such an employee has an option to move an application for compensation either under the 1923 Act or M.V. Act.
The appeal was allowed holding that Commissioner has misread and misinterpreted Section 167 of the M.V. Act and erroneously dismissed the application of the appellant and the matter was remitted to the Commissioner of Employee’s Compensation for determination of the compensation afresh.
[Narayan v. Sangita, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1214, decided on June 6, 2022]
Mr B. R. Kedar, Advocate for Appellant
Mr S. G. Chapalgaonkar, Advocate for Respondent 2