Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
After examining various alternative suggestions made to us in this connection, we consider that the best method of overcoming the difficulties would be to ensure that notices of fatal accidents are given to the Commissioner. The employer should be required to send with the notice, either the amount of compensation due (and the particulars necessary to enable the Commissioner to check that amount) or a statement disclaiming liability, with the grounds on which compensation is withheld. The notice should be compulsory in the case of all fatal accidents occurring to employees while they are on the employer's premises or while they are on duty elsewhere. A notice will thus be required in some cases in which the accident has not arisen in or out of employment; in such cases it will be for the employer, in forwarding the notice, to set out clearly the circumstances which relieve him from liability. On receipt of a notice accompanying compensation, the Commissioner would take steps to distribute the amount; on receipt of a notice disclaiming liability, it would be the duty of the Commissioner to satisfy himself that the grounds for such disclaimer were adequate. If he was not so satisfied, he might either call upon the employer to show cause why he should not be ordered to deposit compensation, or ascertain the whereabouts of the dependants and inform them that it was open to them to prosecute a claim. If he took the former step, it would not, of course, prevent him so informing the dependants at any stage; nor would such proceedings act as a bar to any subsequent claims by a dependant. We do not think that preliminary proceedings of the kind suggested (which have an analogy in other classes of cases) should impair the confidence of any party in the impartiality of the Commissioner in any subsequent contested proceedings between the employer and the dependants; but if the suggestion we have made earlier of appointing additional Commissioners is adopted, another tribunal would be available to which subsequent proceedings could be transferred if necessary. It should be added, however, that if the Act is extended to any large extent to unorganised branches of industry, there may be difficulty in enforcing these provisions in such branches. In the case of fatal accidents to seamen on the high seas, shipping masters should transmit to the Commissioner concerned copies of the report made to them under the Merchant Shipping Act.
It is also possible, and in our opinion desirable, to introduce simplifications in procedure which will benefit dependants and others claiming compensation without prejudicing employers. As the Act stands at present, a dependant claiming compensation must approach the employer first and endeavour to secure agreement with him. But, as the Government of India have pointed out, the employer is obliged to pay the compensation to the Commissioner, and the dependant cannot make any binding agreement with the employer. We agree, therefore, that it should not be necessary for the dependant, to approach the employer, i.e., that in fatal accidents the claim may be preferred at once to the Commissioner.