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The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., Rep. by its Regional Manager v/s Adilakshmamma & Others

    MFA Nos. 5476 to 5481 of 2009

    Decided On, 09 January 2018

    At, High Court of Karnataka

    By, THE HONOURABLE MRS. JUSTICE RATHNAKALA

    For the Appellant: C. Shankara Reddy, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1-R3, K.T. Gurudeva Prasad, Advocate.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: This MFA is filed under Section 30(1) of W.C Act against the judgment dated 28.01.2009 passed in WCA/B-4/FC/CR-16/2007 on the file of the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen compensation, SubDivision-4, Bengaluru, awarding a compensation of Rs.1,76,228/- with interest at 12% p.a and etc.,

This MFA is filed under Section 30(1) of W.C Act against the judgment dated 28.01.2009 passed in WCA/FC/CR No.18/2007 on the file of the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen compensation, Sub-Division-4, Bengaluru, awarding a compensation of Rs.2,75,327/- with interest at 12% p.a and etc.,

This MFA is filed under Section 30(1) of W.C Act against the judgment dated 28.01.2009 passed in WCA/FC/CR No.19/2007 on the file of the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen compens

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ation, Sub-Division-1, Bengaluru, awarding a compensation of Rs.2,46,428/- with interest at 12% p.a and etc.,

This MFA is filed under Section 30(1) of W.C Act against the judgment dated 28.01.2009 passed in WCA/FC/CR No.20/2007 on the file of the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen compensation, Sub-Division-4, Bengaluru, awarding a compensation of Rs.2,20,272/- with interest at 12% p.a and etc.,

This MFA is filed under Section 30(1) of W.C Act against the judgment dated 28.01.2009 passed in WCA/FC/CR No.21/2007 on the file of the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen compensation, Sub-Division-4, Bengaluru, awarding a compensation of Rs.2,20,272/- with interest at 12% p.a and etc.,

This MFA is filed under Section 30(1) of W.C Act against the judgment dated 28.01.2009 passed in WCA/FC/CR No.22/2007 on the file of the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen compensation, Sub-Division-4, Bengaluru, awarding a compensation of Rs.2,70,374/- with interest at 12% p.a and etc.,)

1. Heard Sri. C. Shankar Reddy, learned counsel for the appellant-insurer and Sri. K.T. Guruprasad, learned counsel for the respondents/claimants in all the six appeals.

2. These appeals are filed by the insurer challenging the liability fastened by the Labour Officer and Commissioner for Workmen Compensation (for brevity the “Commissioner”). The claim petitions are filed by the dependents of the deceased six persons in the vehicular accident dated 08.05.2005 involving a lorry bearing registration No.KA-02-D-2556 insured by the appellant and belonging to the 2nd respondent.

3. The claimants being the respective widow and children of deceased six persons namely Venkatarangareddy, Shankar, G. Venkatesh, Ramanjulu, Kittappa @ Krishnappa and G. Chandra filed the claim petition under Section 22 of the Workmen Compensation Act before the Commissioner claiming compensation on the death of the six deceased persons in the vehicular accident dated 08.05.2005 involving a lorry bearing registration No.KA-02-D-2556 belonging to the respondent No.2.

4. Despite service of notice, owner of the vehicle remained absent and was placed exparte. The insurer contested the case.

5. The case of the claimants was that the deceased persons were employed as coolies under respondent No.2.

6. The substantial question of law framed at the time of admitting the case by consent of both parties, is modified as under:

“Whether the Commissioner has wrongly assessed the evidence to hold that there exists employee and employer relationship between the deceased persons and the owner of the lorry”

7. Sri. C. Shankar Reddy, learned counsel for the appellant-insurer submits that it is true that the insurer has insured the vehicle bearing registration No.KA-02-D-2556 belonging to the respondent No.2. But it is a known case that the deceased persons who were traveling in the lorry were paid passengers in the said lorry. The insurance company had placed evidence before the Commissioner through its officer to bring to the notice of the Commissioner that there were 12 members traveling in the lorry and out of 12 members, six were dead and six others were injured. In this regard, a complaint was lodged in the jurisdictional police by one of the injured person who had categorically stated in the complaint that he boarded the vehicle at Bhattarapalli since it cost less fare to travel in the lorry. RW.1 had produced the copy of the FIR which is marked as Ex.R2. The claim petition filed by the owner of the vehicle before the Consumer Forum was rejected vide order dated 14.02.2006 at Ex.R.5. There was impeaching evidence on record that there were 12 passengers in the vehicle. There was no cogent evidence to believe that the deceased persons were employees under the owner of the vehicle. Still learned Commissioner overlooked this aspect of the matter and recorded his finding that the deceased persons were the employees of the owner of the vehicle. In the circumstance, the insurer is not bound to indemnify the owner as per the terms of the insurance policy at Ex.R.1. Therefore, the impugned award may be modified by exempting the insurer from its liability.

8. In reply, Sri. K.T. Gurudeva Prasad, learned counsel for the claimants would submit that the contention raised before this Court by the insurer was considered by the Commissioner at page 14 of his order, wherein during the course of discussion, learned Commissioner has considered Ex.P.6 the copy of the statement given before the police by one Chandrappa who is one of the injured, wherein he has categorically stated that 5 deceased persons were working as loaders with respondent No.2-Sri. Sundarraju. Further, the learned Commissioner has also emphasized on the statement of the owner of the lorry given before the Investigating Officer in the Criminal Case wherein he had stated that all the deceased persons were employed in the said lorry and the complainant in his complaint to the jurisdictional police had stated that he had boarded the lorry near ODC and there were other people who were traveling in the lorry as coolies. In the absence of any corroborative evidence to that of RW.1 repelling the contention of the claimants that the deceased were not the employees under the owner of the lorry, learned Commissioner has drawn the finding that the deceased persons were employees under the owner of the lorry. Since above finding is based on the evidentiary material available from the record, it cannot be said that his finding is perverse. The contention of the insurance company that there were 12 persons traveling in the lorry as passengers which is against the terms and conditions of the policy for the simple reason that the insurer had not rebutted the contention of the claimants by adducing some supportive evidence of any of the eye witnesses cited in the charge sheet, above contention cannot be appreciated. Further, no evidence about the final outcome of the criminal case is produced by either side. If the oral evidence of witness recorded by the criminal court was brought into this case, that would have thrown some light on the veracity of statements recorded by Investigating Officer under Section 161 of Cr.P.C. In that view of the matter, the finding of the employer - employee relationship between the deceased persons and the respondent No.2-Sri.Sundar Raju recorded by the Commissioner cannot be interfered.

9. Sri. C. Shankar Reddy, learned counsel for the appellant has placed reliance on the judgment of this Court reported in ILR 2005 KAR 3242 in the case of National Insurance Company Limited and others Vs. Govindamma and others by the Co-ordinate Bench. In the said case, FIR had disclosed that the injured/deceased were passengers in the goods carrying vehicle, the owner and the deceased were not from the same State and this Court opined that it is possibly a false claim before the Commissioner. But the facts involved in the present case is otherwise.

10. The Commissioner while arriving at the conclusion has founded his reasoning on the evidentiary material borne on record. In that view of the matter, the impugned award cannot be interfered.

Hence, these appeals are dismissed.
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