Loading and Unloading Workers Recognized as Employees Under MV Act: Kerala HC

LI Network

Published on: November 16, 2023 at 11:36 IST

The Kerala High Court has determined that loading and unloading workers fall under clause (c) of the first proviso to Section 147(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act), making them eligible for benefits under the Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 (EC Act).

The case involved a loading worker who suffered injuries when a coconut tree fell on him during the loading process. The Employees’ Compensation Commissioner had previously granted compensation to the worker, including coverage for treatment expenses.

The court dismissed the appeal filed by the insurance company challenging the Commissioner’s decision. It highlighted the integral role of loading and unloading activities in the use of goods carriages, asserting that such workers are covered under clause (c) of the first proviso to Section 147(1) of the MV Act.

Justice C. Pratheep Kumar, presiding over the case, stated, “Loading and unloading of goods transported in a goods carriage is to be treated as part and parcel of the purpose for which the goods carriage is intended.”

The court emphasized that unless such workers are covered under the specified clause, the true spirit of the provision would not be served.

The court framed the key issue: “Whether the loading and unloading worker of the owner of the Tipper lorry comes under the coverage of the classes of employees covered under clause (c) of the first proviso to Section 147(1) of the M.V.Act, 1988?”

The court affirmed that clause (c) of the first proviso to Section 147(1) of the MV Act indeed covers the risk associated with loading and unloading workers.

It observed that the policy should encompass the risk of such workers, even when the vehicle is not stationary. Referring to precedent, the court reiterated that an Act-only policy should cover the risk of loading and unloading workers of the insured.

Furthermore, the court underscored that the Employees’ Compensation Act serves as welfare legislation designed to provide compensation for injuries resulting from accidents.

The decision emphasized that even if a vehicle is parked or stationary, the insurance company would be liable if the accident is proximately related to the use of the motor vehicle.

Consequently, the court dismissed the appeal, upholding the Commissioner’s award.

Case Title: United India Insurance Company Limited v Abdul Razaque O.V.

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