The Madras High Court has ordered the Indian government to introduce necessary amendments to the Employees State Insurance (ESI) Act to classify the loss of internal organs as permanent disability. The order was passed on Saturday by Justice N Kirubakaran, following a petition filed by Senthil, a worker of Hindustan National Glass and Industries Limited in Puducherry.
According to reports, in 2000, Senthil suffered an accident while fitting pipes at a factory, and sustained severe injuries in his abdominal region and to his right kidney. He had to undergo surgery. Since his kidney was completely damaged, it had to be removed. Senthil hence approached the Workmenâ€™s Compensation Authority demanding compensation under the Workmenâ€™s Compensation Act for the loss of his earning capacity.
However, his demand was rejected by the authority in 2009 since the Act only mentions loss of external organs and does not cover any injury to internal organs to be eligible for the compensation.
Senthil's next stop was the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC)â€™s Regional Director, who rejected his claims for compensation, citing the report from the hospital, saying he has no disability. Aggrieved by this, Senthil moved the ESI court in Puducherry in 2014, which awarded Rs 2 lakh as compensation to him. The ESIC filed an appeal before the Madras High Court, seeking to quash the compensation awarded by the ESI Court.
Justice Kirubakaran dismissed the appeal and stated that the ESI court had awarded the compensation on the grounds of equity, and revised the amount to Rs 2.15 lakh, citing that the loss of one kidney is to be considered a â€˜permanent partial disablementâ€™.
Stating that India had a large number of casual workers, the judge said that all such workers face the risk of suffering injuries to internal and external organs during the course of their work and hence the government has to amend the ESI Act accordingly to include injuries to internal organs in its list of injuries that deserve compensation.