Mumbai: BEST staffer who met with accident gets court relief

A city labour court has held that an employee suffering a fracture due to a fall while leaving the washroom of the work premises where he had gone to freshen up before going home after duty, must be considered as an accident during notional extended course of employment. The employee is entitled to claim leave wages for the period of medical treatment, it said.

This was in the case of BEST bus driver Anil Shelke who was denied wages of around two-and-half months by the BEST after he had a wrist injury. Shelke was leaving the washroom of the Marol depot premises on August 25, 2017 at night after duty when he felt giddy and had a fall. He was taken to Rajawadi hospital, treated as an out-patient and then had gone home. He was declared unfit for duty and had joined on November 11 that year after recovery. The claims department of the undertaking had denied him accidental leave wages for the period, for which he had approached the court.

The BEST had contended that the accident did not take place during the course of employment as it took place after he had left duty and was getting relaxed by washing his hands and feet. The labour court said this contention is not acceptable as it is quite natural for the applicant to get fresh after completing his duty and that it was an ordinary course of action on his part.

It said further that the applicant cannot be said to have invited risk by indulging in the act or that he knew fully well that he would get fracture injury while getting fresh in the bathroom.

The court reasoned that the accident happened in the premises of the depot and that the applicant was not at home or outside the premises for his private work. Therefore, it said that the theory of notional extension of course of employment applies in this case.

Presiding officer KB Chougule directed the BEST to pay wages for the period to Shelke and to credit him the leave as sick leave. It said that the refusal of the applicant’s claim to wages during the period of medical treatment is without any justification and declared it as in breach of standing orders applicable to it.

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