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Doctrine of Notional Extension


It is the fundamental right of every person to live with dignity and happiness and it is the right of each person to live tension free. Then why to left labour or workers, who work day and night and get small amount of money, out of which he has to spend on his injuries caused during what time. No, this can be discrimination to the labour because they are those persons from their hard work we are living in Big houses enjoying privileges of television washing machine and many more such gadgets. These things might have been invented by engineers but after all it is made by huge labour who do a lot of hard work and sometime, they got serious injuries during work time so that is why to protect labour from paying money from his own hard work amount the concept of doctrine of notional extension has evolved. Which basically means employer will be liable to compensate all the injuries caused to his employee during his work time.

History of Doctrine of Notional Extension in India

As there were many issues of social security in pre-independence era, then to curb these issues of social security government of then introduced Employees Compensation Act, 1923 and Employees State Insurance Act, 1948. These legislation have introduced a new concept in legal history i.e., doctrine of notional extension or the theory notional extension. This doctrine or theory is related to labours compensation, it can be observed from the aim and objective of Employees Compensation Act, 1923 and which is like “An act to provide for the payment by certain classes of employers to their employees of compensation for injury by accident.”

Doctrine of notional extension is one of the eminent features of Employees Compensation Act, 1923. According to the doctrine of notional extension compensation to be provided to the injured worker under Employees State Insurance Act, 1948 and Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923.

Meaning and Scope of Doctrine of Notional Extension

Meaning of Notional Extension

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, notional meaning theoretical, speculative estimate and hypothetical and it’s an imaginary thing causes due to lack of perfection or no evident.

Generally notional extension of employment means a hypothetical or imaginary extension of the employment period of employees in certain circumstances for provisional benefits under various laws by employer.

The doctrine of notional extension mentioned under Section 3 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 said that it is the legal obligation of an employer to provide damages to their employees, their family members in situations where injury are inflicted during working hours at the workplace.

Section 3 of the Employees Compensation Act, 1923, now called as Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 states about the employer’s liability for compensation and the doctrine of notional extension has evolved from this section only.

Section 3(1) of the said Act sates that “if personal injury is caused to an employee by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment: his employer shall be liable to pay compensation in accordance with the Chapter II of Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923

 Scope of section 3(1) of Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923

The language of this section makes it very clear that, in order to put the burden of the compensation on the employer under the said Act, it must be shown that personal injury has been caused to the workmen by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.

Meaning of arising out of employment and in the course of his employment

When the accident occurs in premises of the employer during working hours at any time when the workmen is at work, it may be possible to say that the accident had took place within the sphere of his employment and therefore, it is easy to declare that the accident has been out of and in the course of employment. But main problem arises when an accident has taken place on a public road in the absence of any fact showing that it is the nature workmen’s employment which required or bring the worker on the accident spot. Because everyone has right to walk on public road and liability cannot be purely saddled on the employer that the accident has occurred, when the employee was coming to the place of employment. So, as a general rule the employment of workman does not start until he has reached the place of his employment and does not continue with him when he left for his home. Unless it is proved that the nature of workmen employment was such that requires him to be there.

Now the doctrine of notional extension come in the picture which include both in time and place and a workman may be regarded as in the course of his employment whether he has not reached or has left the premises of his employer. And the doctrine of notional extension arises out of interpretation of court expanded the meaning of section 3(1).

It was held by the court that the word used under the Section 3(1) of Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 is “employment” not “works” and the word “employment” has wider meant then the word “work”. But the scope of the doctrine will depend on the circumstances of each case.

Section 2(8) of Employees State Insurance Act, 1948 a personal injury to an employee caused by accident or an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of his employment being and insurable employment, whether the accident occurs or the occupational disease is contracted within or outside the territorial limits of India.

Case laws on Doctrine of Notional Extension

In General Superintendent, Talchar Thermal Station vs. Bijuri Naik Case an employee had died by heart attack at factory gate at the time of joining his duty. Orissa High Court judge personally held that, in this case there is a notional extension at both entry and exit by time and space and the scope of such extension will depend upon the facts of each case. An employment may end or may begin not only when employee begins to work or leaves his tools but also when he uses the means of exercise and egress to and from the place of employment.

In Union of India vs. Mrs Noor Jahan case, the deceased was employed as a gang man in the Railways. During his duty hours he along with other gang man working with him, was asked to shift to another site for clearing the same and doing other odd jobs in connection with the Janmashtami celebration.On the way, he was knocked down by a lorry on the public Street and died as a result of the accident. The Allahabad High Court in this case held that the accident had been taken place in the duty time when the deceased was proceeding to discharge his duty at the behest of employer at the second site. So, the accident has occurred in the course of employment and arose out of employment so the claimant was entitled to compensation.

In case of General Manager Western Railway vs. Chandra Bai the deceased was going to attend his duty from his house. While doing so he met with an accident and died. It was held that the principle of notional extension is applicable and accident can be said to have occurred in the course of employment and thus the claimant was entitled to the compensation.

Exception to the Doctrine of Notional Extension

As right should not be unlimited they must have some limitations or restriction. As fundamental right provided under part III of Indian constitution also have exceptions or limitations because unlimited right can never serve the society in better way but unlimited rights only lead to sui generis in the society. As well as there are many chances that these unlimited rights can help people in violating the rights of others and misusing them.

Similarly, doctrine of notional extension also has some exception it also does not provide unlimited benefit two workers. And it is correct to large extent because there are many fraud cases in India as well in which the victim himself has some fault and he claim compensation from the defendant and such instances can be seen to very large extent in the duration of covid-19. As many people die due to other diseases and their claim compensation on the basis that he or she dies due to side effect of vaccine but here I am not getting into the covid cases but it is one example of fraud cases. But not all cases are fraud.

Section 3(1) of Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 states about the employer’s liability for compensation with its exceptions. The matter in section 3 with the regard to exception is –

  1. As first exception to the doctrine of notional extension is that if any person does not suffer from disability caused by injury during working hours for more than three days then the employer is not liable to pay his employee.
  2. Second exception is that employee does not liable if the employee is working in the condition of intoxication and he suffered injury while working in that condition.
  3. Thirdly, if the employee or any worker disobeys is master in those matters which are expressed him for his or other workers safety and security.
  4. Fourthly, if worker removes any safety product or device provided to him by his employer for his security and safety then also the employer is not liable to pay compensation.
  5. There is another exception to the doctrine of notional extension, which states that whenever an accident occurs in public area and risks suffered by workman is not because of his employment but because he was a public member then the employer will not be liable to pay compensation.

Difference of relief under both the Acts

  1. The compensation is expressly defined under the Workmen’s Compensation Act but not expressly defined under the Employees State Insurance Act.
  2. The principal behind compensation to the injured worker under the Employee’s State Insurance Act 1948 and Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 is considered according to the Doctrine of Notional Extension. This doctrine throws light on the course of employment of a worker.
  3. This doctrine is contrary to the doctrine of notion extension. While the doctrine of notional extension benefits to the employee, the doctrine of added peril is for the benefit to the employer.
  4. Therefore, where the injury is not caused to workman by an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, he/she is not entitled to get any benefit or compensation under the Employee’s State Insurance Act 1948 and the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923.
  5. An employee or workman who comes in a public transport for work meets with an accident die cannot be said to die in the course of employment as he is one among the public and therefore the theory of notional extension cannot be applied.
  6. Whereas an employee travelling in a co bus can be deemed to be in the course of employment as his employment starts from the minute, he boards the bus the compensation paid for total permanent disablement is greater than the compensation for dependent under the death of the person.

Concluding by saying that the doctrine of notional extension is expressly defined under the Workmen Compensation Act 1923 but not expressly defined under Employees State Insurance Act 1948.


It is very important to have legislation like Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 and Employees Insurance Act, 1948 which help employees to get compensation from their employers for injury caused during work time. The meaning and the place of work done has been extended by doctrine of notional extension by court in different-different cases. As it is like every other thing which has advantages and disadvantages, in same way doctrine of notional extension has demerits along with its merits. The demerits include rise in fake cases and these fake cases are the main cause of delay in solving the cases in court or we can say delay in justice and cases takes more than 10 years to resolve.

So, with this I would like to conclude that there is a need of reduction in fake cases in India at it cannot be done by the legislatures or the government but it can be done by the citizens or the right holders itself because rights of persons always come after the duties. So, the employees must perform their duties is they must not disobey anything which is for the safety and security of themselves and other employees around him. Employees must be aware about their safety and security; it is not only the duty of employer to protect the workers but it is also the duty of employees to aware about their duties has with these steps we can build an amazing justice system in India.




3. Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923



This article has been written by Anushka Bagri, 2nd Year BA.LL.B Student at Jamnalal Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith.

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