Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In respect of the conditions governing the grant of compensation, a considerable amount of criticism has been directed against the exceptions embodied in the second provision to Section 3 (1) of the Act. These three exceptions operate to remove the liability of the employer to pay compensation when the accident is due to specific misconduct on the part of the workman, e.g., intoxication by drink or drugs, wilful disobedience to certain rules and orders and wilful removal of safety devices. In the case of a fatal accident, the hardship falls on those who had no responsibility for the misconduct. This last argument cannot be pressed far, for a man's family benefit from his achievements and must ordinarily accept the consequences of his mistakes; but there are additional reasons for making the exceptions inapplicable to fatal accidents. Where a workman is killed, it is extremely difficult for dependents to rebut evidence that the accident was caused by the deceased's misconduct. This is specially true where the employer's defence is that the workman disobeyed a safety rule, e.g., a rule against cleaning machinery in motion.
Of the exceptions, this is the one most commonly invoked, and there is reason to fear that this defence has resulted occasionally in the rejection of equitable claims. Moreover the withholding of compensation for fatal accidents which are covered by the exceptions gives rise to great hardship to individuals and is not likely to have any appreciable educative effects on other workmen. We recommend that the exceptions should not apply in the case of fatal accidents. The case for abrogating the exceptions in other classes of accidents is less strong, but having regard to the hardships which result, the majority of us consider that similar protection should be extended to workmen whose injuries involve the permanent loss of 50 per cent or more of their earning capacity. Sir Victor Sassoon and Sir Alexander Murray join in the recommendation that the Act should be amended to enable compensation to be claimed in all cases of fatal accidents, even though due to misconduct. They, however, do not consider that an employer should be held liable for a non-fatal accident that is directly attributable to intoxication, wilful disobedience or wilful removal or disregard of any safety device. ln a case of death the dependents may experience difficulty in rebutting evidence that the accident was due to misconduct. In a non-fatal case, the injured workman is in a position to contest the evidence of his employer, on whom lies the onus of proof that the injury was actually due to specific misconduct.