Court discovers official involvement to make mockery of law

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Imphal, April 16 (UNI) The Gauhati High Court, Imphal bench, has discovered that there is a systematic attempt by officials and claimants to manipulate documents.

In a landmark judgement announced recently by Justice B D Agarwal, in a case between the United India Insurance Company Limited and Kshetrimanum Khomei Singh of Imphal West, large scale scandal, apparently going on in the Tribunal, constituted under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, (for short 'W.C.Act'), in Manipur was brought to the forefront.

The case revealed that the course of procedure adopted by the claimant in collusion with the Commissioner and other officers tend to "make a mockery of law". This case is a classic instance, which gives an insight as to how judicial proceedings can be manipulated to ones advantage with fabricated and concocted evidence.

The appeal was directed against the judgment and award dated Nov 29, 2003, passed by Th Mangi Singh, the then Commissioner, under the W C Act, Manipur, Imphal, in Claim Case No 24 of 2002. By this impugned order, the Commissioner had awarded a sum of Rs 2,22,6547, with interest @ of 9 per cent per annum, in favour of the claimant.

Being aggrieved with the impugned award, M/s United Insurance Company, Imphal Branch has preferred this appeal under section 30 of the W C Act.

A glaring irregularity, which was noticed during the hearing was that although the award was pronounced on 29.11.2003, the same was signed on November 27, 2003. This interpolation in the original document prompted the Judge to scrutinize/browse the record thoroughly.

The Judge further said the case has brought to light the rampant corruption going on in the Tribunal under the said Act. The following facts would show as to how "grossly inflated awards" were being passed in favour of the claimants, with oblique motive, in conspiracy with the claimant to defraud public money and that too on the basis of forged and fabricated documents.

Despite there being large number of discrepancies in documentary and oral evidence, Commissioner Th Mangi Singh choose to ignore the same with oblique motive. The Judge said, ''All these things must have been done in collusion with the claimant to dupe the Insurance Co by awarding hefty amount of compensation for negligible injury of fracture and that too on the basis of forged and fabricated documents.

The Court directed the claimant to refund the money by way of depositing the same in the office of the Commissioner, W C Act, Manipur, within a period of two months. The Commissioner was also directed to hold de novo enquiry and pass a fresh judgment in accordance with law in the light of the observations made herein before.

The Judge further observed that he also felt that the judiciary should not remain a mute spectator, despite noticing perpetual fraud played on the system with impunity.

''If appropriate steps are not taken by the court and the concerned authorities it would amount to acknowledging or approving corruption as a part of the system,'' he said.

Apart from the administrative and executive action to book the culprits, he felt that it is high time for the Government to think as to whether it would be appropriate to bring the office of Commissioner under Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923, under the control of the High Court, converting it to be a full-fledged judicial tribunal, like other tribunals constituted under the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, Land Regulation, Rent Act etc.

UNI NS LL/src1204

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