Study Notes: Doctrine of Notional Extension

By Nishant Singh Rawat 8 Minutes Read

Doctrine of Notional Extension emerges from the concept of social security. It extends the concept of employment beyond its physical boundaries. The doctrine prescribes that compensation is to be paid to the workers in case of an accident during the course of employment. It has guided the development of laws regarding employee’s social security and compensation in most jurisdictions across the world. The doctrine negates the earlier prevalent doctrine of added peril which stipulated that whenever an employee outperforms his duty i.e., he does something which is not the part of his duty and such act involves some sort of extra danger, the employer cannot be held responsible to pay compensation for the injury arising out of any such activity of employee.

In India, The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923[1] and Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 are the legislative actions which embody this doctrine. The Acts mainly concern providing of relief for injury by accident resulting in either death or disability.

Section 2(8) of Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 provides that “employment injury” means a personal injury to an employee caused by accident or an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of his employment, being an insurable employment, whether the accident occurs or the occupational disease is contracted within or outside the territorial limits of India

Section 3(1) of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923[2] creates the liability of the employer for any personal injury caused to a workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.

Essentials of Section 3(1) of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923

Section 3(1) provided three essential that are required to establish this principle. They are:

  • Accident: There is a requirement of occurrence of an accident. Any injury should be the resultant of some accident. Accident could be regarded as a sudden, unforeseen, or unexpected event causing harm to a person.
  • Personal injury: There must be some kind of personal injury to the employee. The personal injury refers to every variety of injury to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation, as contra distinguished from injury to property rights.
  • “Arising out of” and during the “course of employment”: This is the most important aspect of this provision which entangles the doctrine of notional extension for the employee’s relief. This extended the scope of the applicability of this act. “Arising out of” and “scope of employment” has extended the concept of employment beyond workplace.

Mackinson Mackenzi & Co. Pvt. Ltd. v. Ibrahim Mohammad Issak[3] was one of the cases in which the concept of “arising out of” and during the “course of employment” was discussed in extended form.

In Works Manager Carriage and Wagon Shop, EIR v. Mahabir[4], the scope of this act was analysed. Court held that “accidents arising out of and in the course of employment” not only refers to the actual work that the employee must perform but also includes work assigned within the course of service, place of work, employment hours. “Employment” and not “work” word has been used and employment has wider meaning.

The place of employment is not limited to territorial boundary of the employment. Moreover, liability of employer is also extended in case of natural calamities also.[5] In C. Manjamma & Anr. v. The Divisional Manager, The New Indian Assurance Co. Ltd.[6], Court held that stress and strain are also considered as a valid reason for creating the liability of the employer if that is directly related to the course oof employment.

Exemption of employer from liability

Certain conditions are provided under Section 3(2) of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 under which the employer is not liable to pay compensation. Those are:

(a) in respect of any injury which does not result in the total or partial disablement of the workman for a period exceeding three days;

(b) in respect of any injury, not resulting in death, caused by an accident which is directly attributable to–

(i) the workman having been at the time thereof under the influence of drink or drugs, or

(ii) the wilful disobedience of the workman to an order expressly given, or to a rule expressly framed, for the purpose of securing the safety of workmen, or

(iii) the wilful removal or disregard by the workman of any safety guard or other device which he knew to have been provided for the purpose of securing the safety of workmen.

It is to be noted that mere negligence or carelessness do not amount to disobedience. In Ramrao Zingraji Shende v. Indian Yarn Manufacturing Co.[7], it was held that the wilful disobedience of the workman is not sufficient. Disobedience may be the result of forgetfulness or the result of impulse of the moment. Such would not be sufficient as the statute exempts the employer from liability only when the disobedience is wilful, that is deliberate and intended. Mere negligence of the worker cannot be regarded as wilful disobedience by the workman to an order expressly given.

[1] Earlier known as The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923.

[2] Section 3. Employer’ s liability for compensation:

(1) If personal injury is caused to a workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, his employer shall be liable to pay compensation in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter.

[3] 1970 AIR 1906.

[4] AIR 1954 All 132.

[5] Ram Prasad Etc. v. State of Rajasthan and Ors., 1992(1) WLN 389.

[6] Civil Appeal No. 2568 of 2022.

[7] 1994 ACJ 916.

Nishant Singh Rawat

Contributing Editor @LegalWires A Research Scholar at the University of Delhi also graduated from the University of Delhi and Himachal Pradesh National Law University with specialization in criminal law. He is an egalitarian and strong supporter of human rights. He is a keen traveller and mountaineer. Whatever challenges the societal structure and norms, attracts his attention.

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