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Office not liable for heart attack death: SC

india Updated: Jul 17, 2006 02:54 IST

If an employee dies following a cardiac arrest at the work place, the employer is not liable to pay compensation to his/her legal heirs under the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Explaining employers' liability for compensation under Section 3(1) of the Act, a Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice L S Panta said "It has to be established that there was some causal connection between the death of the workman and his employment."

The court said if the death was the result of a disease, no liability could be fixed on the employer.

"But if the employment is a contributory cause or has accelerated the death, or if the death was not only due to the disease but also coupled with the employment, then it can be said the death arose out of the employment and the employer would be liable," the Bench clarified.

The ruling came on an appeal filed by one Jyothi Ademma challenging a judgment of a Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which upheld an order of a Single Bench that she was not entitled to any compensation under the Act from her huband J Venkaiah's employer Nellore Thermal Station for his death caused by a heart attack at the work place on September 24, 1994.

The High Court had reversed the order of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation who had awarded a compensation of Rs 61,236 to Jyothi on June 16, 2001.

However, the apex court agreed with the High Court that there was no injury and that he died after a heart attack. It also took note of the fact that he was suffering from chest disease and was previously treated for that.

The nature of his job could not have caused any stress and strain and therefore it could not be said the death was caused by any accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, the apex court observed.