This Case analysis has been done by Shambhavi Singh (a student of Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad doing a BA.LLB.)
The appellants were Ram Lal Singh’s minor sons. They submitted a claim for compensation with the Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation, who was appointed under Section 10 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923. Miscellaneous Application No. 2 of 1948 was the number assigned to their statement of claim. The claimants claimed that their father worked as an S.P.W. I. on the Oudh Tirhnt Railway at Sahjanwa station and that he died on March 18, 1947, in an accident caused by a light engine colliding with a trolly he was using to measure the creep from Gorakhpur. The claim then went on to outline the accident, stating that the claimants were the deceased’s minor boys who were completely reliant on their father and that the family had suffered greatly for which legitimate recompense was owed to the dependents and family members. They said that a compensation claim they had filed to the Railway had been denied and that they were owed Rs 3,500/- in compensation. The Oudh Tirhut Railway, represented by its General Manager, residing in Railway Quarters Gorakhpur, was named as the opposing party in this miscellaneous application No. 2 of 1948. The opposing party, the Oudh Tirhut Railway, filed a written statement through the General Manager.
“Can a claim under Section 3 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act be filed against the Manager of the Oudh Tirhut Railway even without Governor General’s permission?”
The Chairperson for Workmen’s Remuneration discovered that the candidates were entitled to damages in the amount of Rs. 3,500/- in his sequence dated 29-3-1949, but he rejected the allegation on the grounds that the litigation was not decided to bring against Governor-General, who was the employer, as it should have been under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, but rather against the General Manager of the labelled railway, who was not the employer. He believed that the General Manager at the Oudh and Tirhut Railway could not have been taken into account whichever the employer or the managerial intermediary of the Federal Government, and that since the Central Government-owned the Oudh and Tirhut Railway, an application for recompense should have been submitted against the Governor-General. He believed the petition could not proceed because the Governor-General was not a party. He believed that the request could be managed to bring against the General Manager only if it could be proven that the General Manager was the “handling operative” of the Oudh and Tirhut Railway, and also that the burden falls of attempting to prove this lay with the people applying. He also pointed out that there are other people managing the railway between the Governor-General and the General Manager, namely the Railway Member of the Government and the Railway Board members, and that there could only be one “Management Agent.”He believed that the administering agent should have all of the Central Government’s responsibilities assigned to him and that there was no evidence on the record that the General Manager, Oudh and Tirhut Railway, had all of the authorities that the Railway Board members possessed. Finally, he determined that because the General Manager could not be regarded as the Central Government’s managing agent, no relief could be awarded because the opposing party named in the petition was not Ramlal Singh’s employer.
The appellants have filed their first appeals from the judgment with this Court under Section 30 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act. The claims were lawfully filed against the Oudh Tirhut Railway through its General Manager, and the Oudh Tirhut Railway through its General Manager was the proper person to be impleaded as the employer of the claimants’ father, Ramlal Singh. There were other counter-arguments to the foregoing entries, which we shall address later. Examining specific provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1923 is now required in order to decide on the competing claims. It is not essential to quote the entirety of Section 10 of the Act for the objectives of this debate. Section 19 of the Act states that if any doubt arises in any procedures under the Act as to a person’s obligation to pay damages or the quantity or length of remuneration, the question shall be decided by a Commissioner in the absence of agreement. No court has authority to resolve, determine, or handle any subject that is necessary to be settled, resolved, or treated with by a Commission by or even under this Act, or to enforce any obligation committed under this Act, according to Section 19 (2). A claim for a lump amount can be appealed to the High Court under Section 30 of the Act, which includes an order disallowing a claim in whole or in part. The right to appeal under Section 30 (1) (a) of the Act is further limited by the need that the appeal raises a serious issue of law. Other limits apply, but they aren’t relevant to our situation. The time limit for filing a claim has also been set at 60 days.
It will be seen from the terms of Section 19 (2) of the Act that the subject of indemnification under the Act has been removed from the Civil Courts’ competence, other than in the case of an appellant. Section 19(1) of the Act establishes the Commission as a special authority. The Act establishes the method and practice that must be adopted when appearing before the Commissioner. The C. P. C. is only used in a very minor manner and for very specialised purposes. There are definitions for the phrases “employer,” “Managing Agent,” and “workman.” A railway servant is included in the definition of “workman.” A claim is what a person seeking damages should present to the Commissioner under the Act.
There is no formal complaint filed. As a result, it will be clear that this Act creates unique rights and establishes a unique mechanism with its own set of rules for enforcing those rights. Only because of the opportunity for an appeal to the High Court does the civil court enter the picture. The question that emerges in this situation is who was the railway servant’s employer. The claimants stated that their father worked for the Oudh and Tirhut Railway, which was accepted in the prepared declaration, but the question remains whether the Oudh and Tirhut Railway or the Oudh and Tirhut Railway through its General Manager is the claimants’ father’s employer.
The Chairperson for Workmen’s Compensation ruled that it had not been formed that the General Manager was the Managerial Agent inside this meaning of the Act, pointing out there are many bodies between the Central Government and the General Manager, the Central Government being the better quality of the railway and thus the employer. However, we believe that the problem we’re looking at is solved by the provisions of Section 2 of the Act, which expressly state that the exercise and performance of powers and duties by a local authority or any department acting on behalf of the Government shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be the authority’s or department’s trade or business, unless a contrary intention appears. The main question now is whether the Oudh and Tirhut Railway is a department acting on behalf of the government and responsible for the railway’s operation; if so, the railway’s operation will be judged to be under the control of the government.
If the Oudh and Tirhut Railway is a government department or an authority in its own right, the business it conducts will be considered its business, and if it employs the claimants’ father as an authority or department, it will be considered the employer. The Indian Railways Act, 1890, is mentioned in the Workmen’s Compensation Act’s definition of a railway servant. We can thus consult the Indian Railways Act to see what the legal position is in this matter about the General Manager’s operation of the Oudh and Tirhut Railway. The assertion in the allegation that Ram Lal Singh was in the service of the Oudh Tirhut Railway has been alluded to. The opposite side, the Oudh Tirhut Railway, did not deny these charges. We see no possible explanation why the General Manager of the Oudh and Tirhut Railway should not be found to be the employer of this particular railway servant, the father of the petitioners, in light of the definition of employer given in the Workmen’s Compensation Act, which we have pointed out is an inclusive definition and is not limited to the enshrined kinds. We also consider the text of Section 2 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, Subsection (2). We believe that if ordinary people were asked who employed the claimants’ father after hearing the facts of the case, they would undoubtedly respond to the Oudh and Tirhut Railway through its General Manager. We believe it is a well-established principle that legislation is considered to utilise words in their common sense uti loquitur vulgus when dealing with topics affecting the general public. We just need to look in Maxwell on Interpretation at Statutes, 1953 Edn., p. 54 for authority.
We may now remark that we were pushed in this case by the Assam High Court’s Full Bench decision in Chandra Mohan Saha v. Union of India, AIR 1953 Assam 193. That was a case in which a claim for compensation was filed under Section 80 of the Indian Railways Act, and the opposing party was the Union of India, not the railway itself through its General Manager. The argument was that the Railway should have been impleaded through its General Manager and that the claim should be dismissed due to nonjoinder, citing Rule 13 of Order I C. P. C. A complaint about compensation for injury to through booked traffic must be made against the railway administration whose railway the damage occurs, according to Section 80 of the Indian Railways Act. The payment was sought under that clause in the Assam case, with the notion that the suit should have been brought against the railway company rather than the Union of India. The Railways Act’s definition of railway administration was used for this argument, and it was stated that railway administration meant the General Manager of the railway. The Bench rebutted this attempt to point out that the term “railway management” as described in the Railways Act would include the State Government, and that a suit seeking relief against the Government had to be filed in accordance with the provisions of the Order P. C., and that Section 79 of the C. P. C.”In a suit by or against the Government, the authority to be named as plaintiff or defendant as the case may be shall be (a) in the case of a suit by or against the Central Government — the Union of India, and (b) in the case of a suit by or against a State Government — the State,” according to the statute. In response, it was argued that Section 80 of the Railways Act requires service of notice on the General Manager of the Railway in the case of a suit against the Central Government, but that only notice was required to be delivered to the General Manager, and that any suit seeking relief against the Government had to be filed under Section 79 of the Code.