The Supreme Court backed a High Court’s decision, where disability compensation was denied to a seaman and it was concluded that Dilated Cardiomyopathy condition does not facilitate any benefit under Section 47 of the Disability Act. In the matter of Nawal Kishore Sharma vs. Union of India & Ors [CIVIL APPEAL NO.150 OF 2021], it was submitted that unless proximate connection between the seaman’s work on the vessel and his medical condition is established, disability compensation cannot be allowed. The judgement was given by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy.
The appellant challenged the judgement of the High Court in a Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case where the Court rejected the seaman’s claim for disability compensation. According to the Shipping Corporation of India, the appellant’s case was not an accidental injury during duty on the vessel and hence, only severance compensation was payable. The seaman was able to perform other sorts of work and his normal day-to-da life was not affected.
The appellant joined as a crew on the foreign going vessel but he was discharged with the declaration of being permanently unfit for sea service, due to Dilated Cardiomyopathy. The learned counsel for SCI contended that the disability compensation is restricted only to cases of incapacitation resulting from injury during the voyage, the claim for disability compensation was rightly rejected by the High Court and the SCI authority
The judgement stated that, “Section 2(i) of the Act takes into account visual disability, locomotor disability, mental illness, mental retardation, hearing impairment and leprosy. A heart ailment is not covered within the definition of disability in the Act and we would hesitate to import words, which the legislature chose not to, in their definition of disability. When the 1995 Act was replaced by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, “a person with disabilities” was defined under Section 2(s) as a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairment which prevent his full and effective participation in society. Section 2(zc) defines, “specified disability” as those mentioned in the Schedule to the 2016 Act. In the said Schedule, “physical disability”, “intellectual disability”, “mental behaviour”, are specified.”
It further stated, “The dilated Cardiomyopathy condition of the appellants neither a specified disability nor is the same relatable to the broad spectrum of impairments, which hinders his full and effective participation in society. Therefore, we are of the considered opinion that Dilated Cardiomyopathy condition of the appellant does not bring his case within the ambit of either the 1995 Act or of the 2016 Act.”
For the same reasons, the appeal was found devoid of merits and was dismissed by the apex court.