The Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Centre, the Delhi government and the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) on a petition seeking inquiry into the death of Nitisha Negi, the teenage footballer from Delhi who drowned at Gelnelg beach in Adelaide, Australia, where she was on a tour as part of a 120-member Indian contingent participating in the Pacific School Games.
The petition moved by Nitisha’s parents, grandparents and siblings also seeks compensation of Rs 35 crore for the bereavement caused by the untimely death of a promising sportsperson.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru has issued notice to the Centre, the Delhi government, SGFI headed by Olympic Champion Sushil Kumar, and the Rajkiya Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Mayur Vihar, where 15-year-old Nitisha was studying in Class XI.
Petitioners’ counsel Wills Mathews told the court that Nitisha and her friends were part of the contingent which traveled to Australia at the behest of SGFI, for participation in the Pacific International School Games, 2017, held at Adelaide from 03.12.2017 to 09.12.2017.
On December 10, 2017, after the conclusion of the sporting event, Nitisha and her friends visited the beach at the Holdfast Marina area in Adelaide where they were swept away by a wave while they were busy taking selfies.
While the other girls were rescued, Nitisha’s body was recovered later.
Mathews said in the petition that the Indian authorities, especially the SGFI, were not of much help to the family and accused officials of the SGFI of taking the students to the beach without any provision to ensure their safety.
The petition also said that none of the officials of the team accompanying the players contacted the petitioners or communicated about the accident and it was a phone call from the Australian police that they learnt about the tragedy.
Maintaining that the Indian authorities, especially the officials of SGFI, had been irresponsible leading to death of Nitisha, who excelled in both sports and academic and had represented India in two international events, the petition demanded that a direction be issued to the Centre, the Delhi government and others concerned to conduct an enquiry into the reasons/lapses from the part of the officials of the respondents leading to the drowning of Nitisha and to take appropriate action against those found guilty.
It also demanded that they be directed to pay a sum of Rs 35 crores to the petitioners as compensation/damages.
It is to be noted that Nitisha’s family had sent a legal notice on April 6 to the Centre, the Delhi government, the Government of South Australia and the administrator, Management of Adelaide Glegn Beach, the School Games Federation of India and Rajkiya Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Mayur Vihar.
The notice demanded a compensation of Rs 35 crores from the Indian agencies and 10000000 Australian Dollars from the Australian parties as damages for unnatural death/drowning of Nitisha.
The notice said the Australian counterparts were negligent in not deploying any lifeguard on the beach notorious for such incidents of drowning and allowing minors in the beach water without security measures.
The State of South Australia replied to the legal notice stating that there are warning signs erected at the beach and that the state has no obligation to employ lifeguards or other personnel at the beach and denied any liability whatsoever.
The Indian authorities did not respond to the legal notice forcing the family to move high court.
Read the Order Here