top of page

Disability compensation is not merited unless 100% incapacity is found in course of employment: SC

The Clause 21 applies to a case of total disability but this is not a case of 100% disablement. To say it another way, the Dilated Cardiomyopathy condition may prevent the man from performing sea service but the same will not be an impediment for him to perform other jobs. With this 13 interpretation, the High Court held that only severance compensation under Clause 25 is payable for the seaman. (Para 15)



Nawal Kishore Sharma V/S Union Of India And Ors.

Civil Appeal No.150 Of 2021

Decided on 10th February. 2021

Counsel for Appellants: Mr. V. Chidambresh

Counsel for Respondents: Mr. Shiv Kumar Suri


A Three Judge bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy dismissed the appeal of granting 100% disability compensation during the course of employment.


The appellant challenges the judgement dated 26.03.2019 in the Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.3160/2012, where under, the High Court of Judicature at Patna had rejected the seaman’s Claim for disability compensation[under clause 21 of the National Maritime Board Agreement (hereinafter referred to as “the Agreement”)]. According to the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), the appellant’s was not a case of accidental injury during duty on the vessel and therefore, only severance compensation is payable to the appellant. This is because the Seaman is capable of performing other kinds of job and his day-to-day normal work is not affected.


Learned Senior Counsel for the Appellants argued that (i) A seaman is entitled to100% disability compensation under Clause 21 of the Agreement. According to the Senior Counsel, Dilated Cardiomyopathy or heart’s reduced blood pumping capacity, should be understood as an internal injury covered by Clause 5.9.F (ii) of the Agreement which speaks of “A rating on being medically unfit for sea service at seas as a result of injury whilst in employment”. (ii) seaman is entitled to100% disability compensation under Clause 21 of the Agreement. According to the Senior Counsel, Dilated Cardiomyopathy or heart’s reduced blood pumping capacity, should be understood as an internal injury covered by Clause 5.9.F (ii) of the Agreement which speaks of “A rating on being medically unfit for sea service at seas as a result of injury whilst in employment”. (iii) The failure by the SCI to accommodate the seaman in an alternative job (suitable for the appellant’s medical condition) is next contended to be in contravention of Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (hereinafter referred to as “the Disability Act”).


The learned counsel for the SCI submitted that (i) the seaman never suffered any accidental injury during the sea voyage on the vessel and since the disability compensation is restricted only to cases of incapacitation resulting from injury during the voyage, the claim for disability compensation was rightly rejected by the High Court and the SCI authority. (ii) that Dilated Cardiomyopathy is nowhere mentioned in the Disability Act and therefore an alternate job, suitable for the seaman’s medical condition, cannot be claimed under the Act. (iii) The medical condition of the appellant is attributed by the counsel to excessive liquor consumption and the same has nothing to do with the seaman’s work on the vessel.


Learned ASG Mr. Viramjit Banerjee submitted that there is no causal connection between the Claimant’s medical condition with the nature of his employment in the sea going vessel. Unless proximate connection between the seaman’s work on the vessel and his medical condition is established, disability compensation cannot be allowed.


This Court after hearing the learned counsels observed that

Let us now deal with the appellant’s argument that his heart ailment should be understood as a disability under the Disability Act and consequential benefits be accorded to him. Section 2(i) of the Act takes into account visual disability, locomotor disability, mental illness, mental retardation, hearing impairment and leprosy. A heart ailment is not covered within the definition of disability in the Act and we would hesitate to import words, which the legislature chose not to, in their definition of disability. When the 1995 Act was replaced by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, “a person with disabilities” was defined under Section 2(s) as a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairment which prevent his full and effective participation in society. Section 2(zc) defines, “specified disability” as those mentioned in the Schedule to the 2016 Act. In the said Schedule, “physical disability”, “intellectual disability”, “mental behaviour”, are specified. The dilated Cardiomyopathy condition of the appellant is neither a specified disability nor is the same relatable to the broad spectrum of impairments, which hinders his full and effective participation in society. Therefore, we are of the considered opinion that Dilated Cardiomyopathy condition of the appellant does not bring his case within the ambit of either the 1995 Act or of the 2016 Act. The High Court, therefore, was correct in concluding that Dilated Cardiomyopathy condition 16 would not facilitate any benefit to the appellant under Section 47 of the Disability Act.” (Para 18)


The appeal was dismissed on the ground of being devoid of any merit.



Risikesh Dhanaki

Commentaires


Articles