Justice N. Kirubakaran said: "From the nature of injury mentioned in Part I Schedule II of the Act, it seems that policy makers during 1948 concentrated only on external organs and the eventuality of injuries to internal organsahas have not been taken into consideration. Therefore, the Act needs to be amended to incorporate injuries to internal organs/parts and the consequential disablement so that workmen are benefited."
The order came on an appeal filed by the state challenging the compensation granted to an employee for the loss of his kidney due to an internal injury, after an accident which took place during his employment.
The ESI Court had granted him Rs 2 lakh as compensation on equitable grounds, even though the ESI Act does not expressly cover internal injuries.
The court enhanced the compensation to Rs 2.15 lakh.
The court said: "The human body, as a whole, is a composition of both internal as well as external organs and its well-being depends on whether all the organs are intact and are functioning normally. If there is any damage caused or if there is malfunctioning of any of the organs, maybe internal or external, then it would definitely disable a person from being normal."
The Schedule II and III of the ESI Act lists external injuries and occupational diseases for which an employee may be compensated under the Act. Viewing the exclusion of internal injuries from the purview of the Act, the court said India, in particular, has a high number of people employed as manual labourers, who may face internal injuries during the course of their work.
Directing the Centre to amend the ESI Act, the court recommended it to include injuries sustained to internal organs, such as kidneys, lungs, liver, etc., as schedule injuries and "consequent disablement as schedule disablement".
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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