The Allahabad High Court, in the case of Yash Pal (Minor) & Anr vs State of UP, issued directions to the State to ensure that adequate safety measures are undertaken by the electricity department.
In the present case, two minor kids came in contact with a live 11 KV transmission wire touching the roof of a house. As a result of the electrocution, both legs and one hand of both the children had to be amputated.
A Bench comprising of Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Justice Shri Narayan Shukla noted that electrocution by live wires necessitates strict liability, i.e., the electricity department would be liable irrespective of whether the harm occurred due to the negligence of the victim or whether all necessary precautions had been undertaken by the Board.
The Bench further noted that when a writ petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, the defence of sovereign immunity is inapplicable. Therefore, monetary compensation for violation of fundamental rights is justifiable in cases where it’s the only practical form of compensation. Since the Electricity Board is statutorily authorized to supply electricity and the Board shall therefore be liable to compensate for any death or injury caused due to the transmission of energy.
The loss of future earning, medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life and loss of expectation of life need to be taken into consideration while calculating the amount of compensation to be awarded.
Further, the Bench also issued the following directions to the Electricity Board.
“62. In light of the above submissions and keeping in view the totality of the circumstances and balance to be struck between just compensation and other compensations, we are of the view that beside payment of a reasonable monetary compensation in the form of damages and other ancillaries, incidental matters, certain directions may also be given to the respondents regarding maintenance and safety measurements to be taken by the electricity department either to raise the height of the offending transmission line above the abadi for by means of any safety measurement, to make the high tension line safe and render them electrically harmless and take them beyond the reach of man and kids. We are of the view that following directions would sub-serve the purpose -
i. On the principle of joint and several liability, the respondents are jointly and severally liable for payment of compensation awarded in this petition.
ii. To secure the financial and monetary future of the minors Yash Pal Singh and Ankit Kumar Yadav, it is directed that the respondent U.P. Power Corporation Limited would pay 60 lakhs compensation immediately for loss of enjoyment of life, trauma suffered and to act as a guard against neglect and dependence on others, loss of future employability and the agony of future, paid and mental shock 50% of this amount will be deposited in a fixed deposit account in the name of the petitioners separately under joint guardianship of the parents with the petitioners (separately) in a nationalized bank preferably State Bank of India, Lucknow. The amount is directed to be deposited within two months from the receipt of certified copy of this order failing which the amount will carry 6% simple interest per annum till deposit in the bank. The amount awarded under this head will be available to the petitioners on attaining the age of majority.
iii. To meet out the running expenditure at present and daily expenses/attendant or family help or any labour, 50% of this amount for each petitioner is required to be invested in a nationalized bank, State Bank of India, Lucknow, to earn interest on long term fixed deposit. The interest so earned per month on this fixed deposit amount shall be credited to the Saving Bank Accounts of the petitioners with natural guardianship and credited to these accounts. The amount of interest so accrued against these fixed deposits shall automatically be transferred in the Saving Bank Accounts of the petitioners which are to be opened in the same branch in the name of the petitioners operated jointly by the parents and be paid on monthly basis to be used and expended for the care of the petitioners by the parents for educational expenses, nutritious food, cost of the attendants. Respondents are directed to pay this amount within two months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order failing which the amount will carry 6% per annum simple interest till it is deposited in the bank accounts.
iv. The Chairman/ Managing Director of the Department, with consultation and assistance of the Director General of Health Services, U.P., Lucknow, may also consider the case for immediate medical treatment of the minor petitioners to provide them artificial/robotic limb.
v. Respondents are directed to pay compensation of Rs.4,00,000/- (Four lakhs) immediately within two months to the natural guardians of each of the petitioners for trauma, mental shock, pain and agony caused to them.
vi. Each petitioner is entitled to have cost of litigation quantified to Rs.50,000/- (fifty thousands) payable to the guardians of the petitioners.
vii. It would be better to provide that since the Court has awarded a reasonable monetary compensation on the principles of both strict and vicarious liability and tortuous liability based on negligence, it is directed that no civil suit would lie claiming further compensation with regards to this incident in future in any Court.
viii. Respondents are directed to immediately make some safety measures regarding high tension lines transmitting above or near abadi to make it safe and render them electrically harmless to habitation and take them beyond the reach of man below or to device such other alternatives so as to bypass the colony like the present abadi land in the State of U.P. For the purpose, the Managing Director of the electricity department by constituting a team of experts, engineers of the department may obtain a report and take such remedial measures which are required to meet out and avoid such type of electrocution
ix. The entitlement of compensation as provided above is individual (per petitioner) and both the petitioners are entitled for above compensation separately.”
Read the Judgment here.