Observing a great misery of the poor of not availing of justice due to some age-old rule that the victim of an accident is to file a claim petition where the accident had occurred, the Supreme Court said that a victim could file a claim petition anywhere in the country.

A person can file a claim under the "Workmen's Compensation Act" where ever he "ordinarily resides" and cannot be compelled to file the petition at the place of the accident, the Supreme Court has ruled.

"It is not possible for poor workmen or their dependents who reside in one part of the country and shift from one place to another for their livelihood to necessarily go to the place of the accident for filing a claim petition," the apex court observed.

A bench of Justices AK Mathur and Markandeya Katju said that a claimant cannot be compelled to file a claim petition only at the place of the accident as it may be very expensive for them to pursue the case.

According to the apex court, the statutes relating to the labour are for the welfare of the workmen and hence such a beneficial legislation should be given a purposive interpretation safeguarding the rights of the have-nots rather than giving a literal construction.

The apex court passed the observation while quashing a judgement of the Guwhati High Court that held the view that a claimant could file a claim petition only at the town/district/city where an accident had taken place.

The High Court while holding the view set aside an order passed by the Commissioner, Workmen's Compensation, Tezpur, who had directed M/s Hanuman Plantation Ltd to award a compensation of Rs 2.70-lakh to the parents of Md Rajik Ahmed, under the workmen's compensation.

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