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Heart Ailments Is Not Covered Under Disability Act: SC [READ JUDGMENT]

The Supreme Court observed that Heart Ailment (Dilated Cardiomyopathy Condition) is not covered within the definition of disability in the Right of Person with the Disability under Disability Act while hearing a case against Patna High Court’s judgment

By: Pragnya Prachurya Acharya, Madhusudan Law University, Cuttack, Odisha

The Supreme Court observed that Heart Ailment is not covered under that disability definition under the Disability Act. The court gave this judgment while dismissing an appeal against the Patna High Court’s judgment. The apex court upheld the judgment of the  Patna High Court order of a shipping corporation of India. In this case, the Patna High Court had rejected a seaman’s claim for disability compensation under the Disability Act and the National Maritime Board Agreement. The bench which gave this judgment comprised of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Hrishikesh Roy.

Majorly there were two issues raised before the Supreme Court:

  • One of the contentions of this case was that petitioner’s heart ailment should be understood as a disability under the Disability Act and consequential benefit should be accorded to him,
  • And the other issue was that the seaman is entitled to 100% disability compensation under Clause 21 of the National Maritime Board Agreement.

To the first issue raised before the Supreme Court, the bench noted that Section 2 (i) of the 1995 Act takes into account visual disability, locomotor disability, mental illness, mental retardation, hearing impairment, and leprosy.

The Supreme Court said that, “We would hesitate to import words which the legislature chose not to in their definition of disability.”

Further, the Supreme Court said that Heart Ailment was not covered in Disability Act when the 1995 Act was replaced by the Right of Persons with Disability Act 2016. The person with a disability as defined under Section 2(s) is a person with long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairment that prevents his full and effective participation in society. It also noted Section 2(zc) defines “Special Disability” mentioned in the schedule of the 2016 Act.

The Supreme Court finally concluded that heart ailment is neither in special disability nor is same or relatable to what is mentioned in this section of the Disability Act of 1995 and 2016.

So the case of the appellant does not fall within these acts. It also does not hinder a person’s full and effective participation in society. So the Supreme Court believed that the High Court’s judgment was correct and Dilated Cardiomyopathy Condition would not facilitate any benefit to the appellant under section 47 of the Disability Act.

To the second issue raised in front of the Supreme Court that the sea-man be entitled to 100% disability compensation under Clause 21 of the National Maritime Board Agreement, Supreme Court observed that there is no link between the ship duty and the appellant’s medical condition. Therefore, the person is not entitled to 100% disability compensation.

The Supreme Court also noted that under Clause 5.9 F(ii), the compensation would be granted to the sea-man if the sea-man is found medically unfit for sea duties as a result of an injury while employment or an accidental injury in course of his employment in the sea vessel, but in this case, any of these conditions are not there.

It also said about Clause 21, which says that Clause 21 applies to any case of total disability, but this is not a case of 100% disability because heart ailment may stop the sea-man from performing the sea services but it will not be a barrier for him to perform other jobs.

So, the Supreme Court finally upheld what the High Court said and said that the interpretation of the High Court is correct and it granted the sea-man only severance compensation under Clause 25 of the National Maritime Board Agreement.

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