Application of Doctrine of Notional Extension With Respect to Employees’ Compensation

Application of Doctrine of Notional Extension With Respect to Employees’ Compensation


The liability of the employer for compensation has been laid down in Sec 3 of The Workmen Compensation Act,1923. One essential element of that provision is the clause ‘arising out of and in the course of the employment’. This paper focuses on the meaning and judicial interpretation of this clause. The compensation payable to the injured worker under the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 and Employee’s State Insurance Act, 148 is decided according to the doctrine of notional extension developed by the courts. The purpose of this paper is to find out the maximum protection provided to the employees under the defined limits of the establishment during the course of employment. The doctrine of notional extension provides that in order to attract the provisions of the said Acts there should be a causal connection between place of accident and place of work. It also sets out the cases where the employer would not be liable to pay compensation to the employees or its dependents. 
KEYWORDS : notional extension, course of employment, Employees’ Compensation Act, Employees’ Competition Act       


Sec 3(1) states the circumstances under which employer will be liable to pay compensation. These are:
     1)     Personal injury must have been caused to an employee
     2)     Such injury must have been caused by  an accident
     3)     The accident must have arisen out of and in course of employment and
     4)     The injury must have resulted either in death of the employee or in his total or partial disablement for a period exceeding three days.
Employment under the present Act is not limited to actual work or place of work but extends to all things which the employee is entitled by the contract of employment expressly or impliedly to do. To claim compensation from the employer, existence of a contract of employment express or implied between employer an injured employee is necessary.[1]

I.  Personal Injury

Personal injury does not mean only physical or bodily injury but includes a nervous shock or a mental injury.
In Indian News Chronicle v. Mrs. Lazarus[2], an employee died of pneumonia as he had to frequently got to heating room from cooling plant. The court held that the injury caused by an accident in the instant case is not physical injury and the injury was due to his working and going from a heating room to a cooling point as it was his duty.
In case of personal injury caused to an employee by an accident arising out of and in the course of the employment unless the right to compensation is taken away under Sec 3(5), the employer becomes liable to pay compensation as soon as the aforesaid personal injury is caused to the employee.[3]

II.  Accident

The basic ingredient of accident is the unexpectation. There would be cases, where a series of tiny accidents, producing unidentifiable results and when cumulated to produce the final injury would constitute together an accident within the meaning of this section.[4]

III.  Arising out of and in the course of employment

The expression “arising out of” suggests the cause of accident and the expression “in the course of” points out to the place and circumstances under which the accident takes place and the time when it occurred.
A causal connection between the injury by accident and employment is necessary. Th burden of proof lies on the claimant to prove that the accident arose out of and in the course of employment.[5]
But a direct connection between the injury caused by an accident and the employment of employee is not always essential. Arising out of the employment does not mean that the personal injury must have resulted from the mere nature of employment and is also not limited to cases where the personal injury can be traced to the duties which the employee has to discharge.[6]
The words ‘arising out of employment are understood to mean that “during the course of employment, injury has resulted from some risk incidental to the duties the service which unless engaged in the duty owing to the master it is reasonable to believe the employee would not otherwise have suffered. There must be a causal relationship between the accident and employment. If the accident had occurred on account of a risk which is an incident of the employment; the claim for compensation must succeed unless of course the employee has exposed himself to do an added peril by his own imprudence.”[7]
The employee must show that at the time of injury he was in the employer’s business or in furthering that business and was not doing something for his own benefit.[8]
An injury received within reasonable limits of time and space, such as while satisfying thirst or bodily needs be regarded as injury received within the course of employment.[9] 
In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Ram Prasad and Anr.,[10]the employee died due to natural lightning at the site. The Supreme Court held that the accident must have causal connection with the employment and arise out of it but in the present case since the employee is injured as a result of natural force of lightning which has no connection with the employment of the deceased, the employer can be still held liable if the claimant shows that the employment exposed the deceased to such injury. In the present case the deceased was working on site and would not have been exposed to such hazard of lightning had she not been working so. Therefore, the appellant was held liable to pay compensation. 


Ordinarily a man’s employment does not begin until he has reached the place where he has to work and does not continue after he has left the place of his employment.[11] Travelling to and from the employer’s establishment is prima facie not in the course of employment.[12] But there are instances where there may be reasonable extension of time and place and an employee may be regarded as in the course of his employment even though he had not reached or had left his employer’s premises.[13]
Sec 2(8) of the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 defines employment injury as personal injury to an employee caused by an accident or occupational disease arising out of and in the course of his employment, being an insurable employment. The Employee State Insurance (Amendment) Act,1966 substituted this definition to keep the spirit of social insurance and insured persons were kept on same footing with workmen under the Workmen Compensation Act,1923. This amendment Act introduced new sections 51A, 51B, 51C and 51D which enhanced the scope of employment injury and gave legislative recognition to the theory of notional extension. While determining whether an accident occurred in the course of employment, following factors have to be considered:
  1. As a general rule, employment of a workman does not commence until he has reached the place of employment
  2. It is subject to theory of notional extension of the employer’s premises so as to include an area which the workman passes in going to and in leaving his actual place of employment
  3. Notional extension theory can be taken recourse to in terms of both time and place in a reasonable manner in order to ascertain whether an accident caused to an employee may be regarded as “in the course of employment” though he had not actually reached his place of employment
  4. In order to determine whether an accident caused to an employee be regarded as “in the course of employment”, facts and circumstances of each cases will have to be determined carefully keeping in view the theory of notional extension.[14]
The question as to how far the employer is liable in case of an injury caused by an accident to an employee outside the normal place of business was discussed in the case of St. Helens Colliery Co. Ltd. v. Hewlston.[15]In this case an employee working in a colliery was injured while travelling in a special collier’s train. It was held that the injury did not arise in the course of employment because of the following reasons:
    a)     There was no obligation on the employees to travel by the train. They had a right to travel by such train but were not bound to travel by that train and could have travelled by any other alternative means. Had he been bound by the contract of service to travel by such train then he would be regarded as “in the course of employment”.
    b)     If the physical features of the place of work compel the employee to adopt to the means of transit offered by the employer, there may in the employee’s contract of service be implied a term that there was an obligation on the employer to provide such means and it was obligatory for the employee to avail himself of such means.
    c)     An employee in a colliery is not in the course of his employment, when he is riding in a vehicle provided by his employer unless, by the terms of his contract, he is bound to travel in that vehicle.[16] 
A case where a natural death by cardiac attack was regarded as an employment injury so as to grant dependent’s benefit, the Gujarat High Court held that only the arrival of bus and the few minutes in bus stood between the workman and the factory. The workman died because of cardiac attack when he was waiting for the bus to reach his workplace. The Court observed that he was within the permissible limits of time and space and so applied the theory of notional extension in order to grant compensation to his dependents.[17]
In Varadarajulu v. Masaya Boyan,[18]the employer was a contractor for the formation of a road and the deceased was a coolie mistry under him. The employee suffered injury by capsizing of the lorry which belonged to the contractor and was driven by his driver when the lorry was conveying the employees to the place of work. It was held that:
Where the kind of transport provided by the employer was the only means available to employees, the accident was held to be in the course of employment because not only the lorry provided by the employer was merely a reasonable means of transport but also that there was no other means of transport to and from the workplace being a hilly tract.”
Accidents resulting from the surroundings where an employee is employed or through which he has to reach his place of work to carry out such work may fall within the scope of the phrase, “arising out of and in the course of the employment.”
In a case[19], the Madhya Pradesh High Court held that the assault by strikers on an injured workman who ignored to go for strike and went to work will fall under the “course of employment”.


There is an exception to this theory of notional extension that where the accident occurs in public place and the risk faced by the employee is not due to his employment but to his being on the spot as a member of the public, the employer will be liable to pay a compensation only if it can be shown that the employee acted on the direction of the employer.[20]
In J.F. Pareira v. Eastern Watch Co. Ltd.,[21]a salesman working in the company went out and then he was found unconscious on the third floor of the building and died in the hospital. It was held that while on a duty an employee can be out for a smoke or for other reasons. The employee would be deemed to be on the premises of the employer by the notional extension of the term “premises” and accident to him shall be deemed to arise in the course of employment unless and until it can be shown that he went out for personal reasons.
In another case, Basu Charan Mohanty, an employee, met with an accident and died on his way to a house under construction and his actual residence was at a far-off place from the place of accident and was in the opposite direction. The court observed that the doctrine of notional extension applies when a person is either going to or coming from his residence to the place of work. In the instant case, the employee adopted a route which was not normal. The court held that the accident occurred while the employee was on his way back home by taking a different route and as such the dependents are not entitled to compensation. Normal route need not be the shortest route but it has to be most convenient route. Travelling a far distance in opposite direction and taking a circuitous route cannot be said to be normal route.[22]


As a general rule, the employment commences when the employee reaches the place of work and ends when he leaves the employer’s premises. But in those cases where employees meet with an accident outside the employer’s premises, in those cases employee can be held liable for providing compensation to the employees under The Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 as well as The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948. This is known as the theory of notional extension of employer’s premises. One essential element will be to establish the causal relationship between the place of accident and place of work. It is duty of the courts to decide upon facts and circumstances of the case whether any personal injury caused by an accident to an employee outside the employer’s premises will fall under the ambit of “arising out of” and “in the course of employment” under Sec 3 of the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 so that compensation can be awarded to the dependents of the employees.         

[1] H.L. Kumar, Labour and Industrial Law 411 (4th ed. 2008)
[2] AIR 1961 Punj  102
[3] Pratap Narain Singh v. Shrinivas AIR 1976 SC 222
[4] Bai Shakri v. New Manekchowk Mills Co. AIR 1961 Guj 34
[5] M/s Chowgule and Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. v. Smt. Felicidade AIR 1970 Goa 127
[6] Central Glass Industries v. Abdul Hussain AIR 1948 Cal 12
[7] M. Mackenzie v. I.M. Issak AIR 1970 SC 1906.
[8] Janki Ammal v. Divisional Engineer Highway, Kozhikode (1956) II LLJ 233.
[9] P.E. Davis and Co. v. Kesto Routh AIR 1968 Cal 129.
[10] (2001) I LLJ 177 (SC).
[11] S.N. Mishra, Labour & Industrial Laws 447 (27th ed. 2014).
[12] Nether v. Coles 1945 A.E.R. 277.
[13] S. S. Mafg v. Bai Valu Raja AIR 1958 SC 881.
[14] Singh, V. (1987). EMPLOYMENT INJURY AND EMPLOYEES’ STATE INSURANCE SCHEME: FUNCTIONAL PERSPECTIVES. Journal of the Indian Law Institute, 29(1), 76-93. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
[15] 1924 A.C. 59 (B).
[16] Supra note 6.
[17] Sadgunaben Amrutlal v. Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (1981) 22 GLR 773.
[18] AIR 1954 Mad 1113.
[19] ESI Corporation v. Babulal (1982) Lab I.C. 468 (M.P.).
[20] Works Manager, Carriage and Wagon Shop, E.I.R. v. Mahabir AIR 1961 Cal 210.
[21] (1985) I LLJ 472 (Bom).
[22] Steel Authority of India Ltd., Rourkela Plant v. Kanchanbala Mohanty (1994) II LLJ 1167 (Orissa).


Author: Pulkit Lodha,

3rd Year BBA LLB,

Christ(Deemed to be) University.

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