Compensations for truckers
In a judgment that will benefit lakhs of lowly-paid truck drivers, who transport millions of tonnes of goods across the country, the Supreme Court has held that the truckers are entitled to compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, a law that was till now restricted to the industrial workers only.
The apex court, in the case of Param Pal Singh vs National Insurance Co, while holding that truckers have a ‘casual connection’ with the company that booked the goods for transportation, said that in case he dies in an accident or due to the ill effects of haphazard working conditions, his family members are entitled to damages on the basis of the monthly wages and allowances paid to him.
In this case, the 45-year-old Jeet Singh had died, possibly due to heart failure, while driving a truck from Delhi to 1,152 km away at Nimiaghat near Jharkhand in 2002.
While the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner had determined the compensation to the truck driver at R2.20 lakh with R2,500 as funeral charges under Section 4(4) of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the Delhi High Court had set aside the tribunal’s order. On an appeal filed by Param Pal Singh, the minor adopted child of the deceased, the top court restored the tribunal’s decision by holding that there was every reason to assume that constant driving by Jeet Singh “was a material contributory factor if not the sole cause that accelerated his unexpected death.’’
The minor had argued that the death of the deceased was in the course of his employment and that his death was due to stress and strain while driving the truck continuously over a period of time. The insurance company and the transport company had contested that the victim’s death was not related to the job since there was no accident, thus no compensation was payable under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
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