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Latha v T V Sahadevan(Neutral Citation: 2023/KER/72504) - (High Court of Kerala) (20 Nov 2023)

An Independent Contractor does not come under the ambit of an Employee


Labour and Industrial

Present appeal was filed by applicants seeking employee compensation under Section 30 of Employee Compensation Act, 1923 after the claim for compensation was dismissed by the Employee Compensation Commissioner stating the ground that the deceased was a contractor and not an employee under Section 2(1)(dd) of Act.

The deceased worked as a light and sound provider in small programmes and on the day of the incident was throwing the cable for connecting the mike set across the telephone post. The cable came in contact with the 11 KV electric line as a result of which he got electrocuted and succumbed to injuries.

The question that arises for consideration in present case is that whether a person engaged in hiring mike set for rent is an employee coming within the purview of Section 2(1) (dd) of the Employees Compensation Act 1923?

The Court after considering various precedents has observed that in case of an independent contractor he is not controlled by an employer regarding the manner in which the work allotted to him is done. He also need not do the work personally and may get it done by employing others. In the instant case, the respondents for the purpose of conducting a public function, hired the mike set of deceased claimant who is an electrician. He used to hire mike set for small functions like the present one. Accordingly, for the function, he hired his mike set to the respondents. While he was throwing the cable for connecting mike set across the telephone post the cable came in contact with 11 KV electric line and as a result of which he got electrocuted. The mike set used in this case belonged to the deceased. Since it was only a hiring of mike set for the purpose of a programme, there was no necessity for the deceased to do his work personally. Instead, he could have done the same by engaging his own employees. His work of connecting the mike set is not controlled by the respondents.

In the above circumstances, it was held that deceased claimant was not an employee but an independent contractor. Therefore, the impugned order passed by the Commissioner is perfectly justified and there are no grounds to interfere with the impugned order.


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