Q: I used to sell and supply computer software and hardware to a large public limited company. A written contract has been signed between the company and myself. In December 2005, the company made certain frivolous complaints regarding the quality of the goods supplied by me and has withheld my dues to the tune of Rs 11 lakhs. Repeated requests for payment of my dues have been in vain. It seems that I have to take recourse to law. There is an arbitration clause in the contract but I do not want an arbitration since the arbitrator will be a person nominated by the company. I think the arbitrator is unlikely to be impartial. What should I do'
A: The arbitration clause in your contract as such will not disentitle you to file a civil suit in the appropriate court for recovery of your dues. However, if the company applies to the court under Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and satisfies the court that the disputes involved in the suit are covered by the arbitration clause then the matter will necessarily be referred to arbitration. In that case, if you have reason to believe that the person nominated by the company to act as arbitrator will not be impartial or will be biased in favour of the company; you may within 15 days after becoming aware of the nomination, send a written statement with the reasons for challenging such a nomination to the arbitrator. The arbitrator may uphold your challenge and vacate office or may reject your contention and proceed with the arbitration. If you are dissatisfied with the award of the arbitrator, you may challenge the same on one or more of the grounds mentioned in the 1996 Act before the appropriate Court.
Q: My father was employed as a mechanic in a car-repairing factory. In January 2006, while repairing a car, his right hand got sucked into a machine and he lost all the fingers of his right hand. Enquiries revealed that the machine was malfunctioning. The employer released my father from the job since he was no longer capable of using his right hand for work. The employer promised to pay compensation to my father but till date has not paid a single rupee. With his right hand incapacitated, my father hasn't been able to get any other job. He is only 58 years old. Is there any law under which my father can legally claim compensation from his erstwhile employer' If so, what is the procedure' Please advise.
A: It appears that your father was a 'workman' within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923. Under Section 3 of the Act, if personal injury is caused to a workman by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, his employer shall be liable to pay compensation except in certain cases where the workman at the time was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or where he wilfully flouted safety rules. The formula for calculating the amount of compensation is provided in Section 4 of the Act. Your father should immediately give notice of the accident to the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation and a claim must be preferred before the Commissioner within two years of the occurrence of the accident. The commissioner has wide powers and can also enforce his award by recovering the compensation amount as arrears of land revenue in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Revenue Recovery Act, 1890.
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