Chennai: The Madras high court has ordered the release of a vessel, registered in Singapore, presently operating at Udankudi project, Kallamozhi coastal village, Tuticorin, which was ordered to be seized on March 11 for its failure to pay compensation to the parents of the deceased, who died while in employment, after the owner of the vessel on Friday agreed to pay Rs 2.50 lakh each to the parents of the deceased.
Passing further orders on an application arising out of a suit filed by Raja Pushpam and John Raj, parents of the deceased Sam David Raja, Justice S.Vaidyanathan said, “The Respondent/Defendant (owner of the vessel) is directed to pay a sum of Rs 2.50 lakh to each of the plaintiffs within three working days. Registry is directed to issue the warrant of release forthwith so as to permit it sail in the port”.
When the case came up for hearing, counsel for the vessel Tug Mutha Gem and Barge Mutha Pearl, submitted that an amount of Rs 35.45 lakh (which is equivalent to 69,000 Singapore dollar) has already been deposited in the name of the registrar general and therefore, the interim order already granted on March 11 needs suitable modification so as to enable the respondent/defendant to get the vessel released.
The judge said it was no doubt true that a detailed adjudication was required regarding the jurisdiction of this court to decide the issue on hand, in terms of Clause No.17 of the agreement. But, at the same time, it cannot be lost sight of the fact that it has been vividly mentioned in the communication dated February 23, 2019 of the respondent/defendant that the employee/son of the plaintiffs, who was aged about 21 years at the time of his death, died while on board “Tug Mutha gem and Barge Mutha Pearl”. It was reported across the bar that a sum of Rs 2.50 lakh has already been paid to the parents of the deceased. It was opt to say that nothing will substitute the loss of a person in terms of money, as the plaintiffs have lost their lovable son. Therefore, this court, finding a prima facie case and the balance of convenience in favour of the plaintiffs, feels it appropriate to allow the plaintiffs to withdraw another sum of `5 lakh from the amount deposited by the respondent in the account of the registrar
general of this court, the judge added.
The judge said even assuming that the plaintiffs have to approach the Singapore court for suitable compensation under the Work Injury Compensation Act, which was currently in force in the Republic of Singapore, still the deceased employee needs to be honoured by the respondent in terms of the said Act and also in terms of the agreement between the parties, in the absence of the defence that the accident occurred purely on the fault of the employee. Whether it be an Indian Court or Singapore Court, the minimum compensation payable under the Workmen’s Compensation Act cannot be deprived either by the Indian Court or by the Singapore Court, as there was an admission of employment as well as death on board while in the course of and out of employment, the judge added.
The judge said the respondent has undertaken that the said amount of Rs 5 lakh would be paid by them separately, which was independent of the deposit and in case the plaintiff succeeds in the suit, the said amount would be adjusted from the deposit.
Recording the same, the judge modified his earlier order and forwarded the original deposit receipt to the registrar general of Madras high court for safe custody and to be renewed periodically till the finalization of the dispute in the suit....