Delhi HC Awards Rs 10L To Parents Of Minor Electrocuted In Public Park [Read Judgment]
The Delhi High Court has directed North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the parents of a 13-year-old boy who was electrocuted while at play in a public park in the year 2010.
Justice JR Midha directed NDMC to pay the compensation to the parents even as it and the other agencies like the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), BSES Yamuna Power Ltd quarrelled over shouldering the liability with each agency washing its hands off any responsibility in maintaining safe public parks.
The court, however, held NDMC, as primarily liable to pay the compensation in the first instance to the petitioners and granted it liberty to initiate appropriate legal proceedings against DUSIB, BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and/or any other agency, in accordance with law.
In the said case, 13-year-old Amit Kumar was playing in Shiv Park at Punjabi Basti, Baljeet Nagar, Anand Parbat near his residence on July 12, 2010, when he received an electric shock from the metallic fencing erected around high mast pole which resulted in his death.
The police registered an FIR under Section 304A (causing death by negligence)/ 337 (causing hurt by endangering personal safety of others) IPC at Police Station Anand Parbat in which a charge sheet came to be filed against Sanjeev Sharma, JE (Electric), Karol Bagh Zone, MCD.
The Electrical Inspector conducted an inspection of the site on 16th August 2010 and submitted his report dated 20th September 2010 to the police. According to the report, the accident occurred because the joints in the electric supply leads were found naked and they had not been found insulated with any insulating material/tape and the metallic frame of the high mast light pole and fencing erected around the pole had not been earthed.
During the hearing on the petition moved by Amit’s parents, the NDMC filed a counter affidavit wherein it admitted having installed the high mast pole but went on to say that the wires in the park were maintained by respondent no.2, BSES and the accident was caused due to its negligence.
NDMC further said the alleged accident might have taken place due to the accumulation of rain water in the park and leakage in earthing of the main lines maintained BSES. The civic body even submitted that the petitioners were negligent in not stopping their child from going to park.
BSES, on the other hand, said it is only providing the electricity to NDMC for street light and high mast poles and LV mains and the maintenance of service lines and semi-high mast poles is the responsibility of NDMC.
DUSIB was also impleaded in the matter and said it was not responsible for the park.
After the court held the NDMC liable, the civic agency told the court in an affidavit that it has agreed to pay the compensation to the petitioners without prejudice to its rights and contentions with liberty to recover the same from DUSIB, BSES Yamuna Power Limited and/or any other authority in accordance with the law.
The court then fixed the amount of compensation at Rs 10 lakh by referring to various cases, including the case titled Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, wherein the Supreme Court had said, “Taking note of the facts and circumstances, the amount of compensation awarded in public law remedy cases, and the need to provide a deterrent, we are of the view that award of Rs. 10 lakhs in the case of persons aged above 20 years and Rs. 7.5 lakhs in regard to those who were 20 years or below as on the date of the incident, would be appropriate…”
In another case titled Chiranji Lal v. DDA which related to the death of an 11-year-old due to the falling of an iron gate of a DDA park on him, a committee appointed by the Delhi High Court had recommended the payment of compensation of Rs. 10 lakh in death cases and Rs. 5 lakh in case of permanent disability.
It is to be noted that recently, in a similar case of death of a 14-year-old boy due to electrocution in a public park, a division bench of the Delhi High Court had held that victims of state’s negligence cannot be denied compensation because of a dispute between government agencies as to who was negligent.