28 Nov 2022 8:00 AM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court while awarding Rs 24 Lakh to a woman left crippled because of a High Voltage electric shock observed that authorities manning dangerous commodities like electricity have an extra duty to take all measures to prevent any mishap. The observations were made by Justice Sanjay Dhar while hearing a plea in terms of which the petitioner had...
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court while awarding Rs 24 Lakh to a woman left crippled because of a High Voltage electric shock observed that authorities manning dangerous commodities like electricity have an extra duty to take all measures to prevent any mishap.
The observations were made by Justice Sanjay Dhar while hearing a plea in terms of which the petitioner had sought direction upon the respondents for providing compensation to her for the permanent disability caused to her due to electrocution with a further direction upon the respondents to appoint her son on compassionate grounds and to regularize services of husband of the petitioner.
The facts borne out of the record revealed that the petitioner was a housewife and in August, 2011, while she was working in the field cultivating vegetables, 33000 kv power transmission line fell down, as a result of which she received severe burns and injuries. The petitioner was shifted to hospital where she was diagnosed as an electric burns case and had to remain in the hospital for more than three months.
In her plea the petitioner submitted that on account of the burns, both her legs below the knees were amputated which in turn rendered her 100% disable and hence she had also to bear the expenses of Rs.1,85,250/ for installation of artificial limbs.
It was also averred that on account of disability, she is unable to perform any job and that she needs help of an attendant for day-to-day chores and as a consequence she has spent more than Rs.15.00 lacs on her treatment. The petitioner further submitted that she has been paid only an amount of Rs.1.00 lacs as ex-gratia relief but the respondents have not acceded to her request for engaging her husband as a permanent employee.
On the basis of these assertions, the petitioner sought compensation of Rs.50.00 lacs from the respondents.
Contesting the plea the respondents submitted that the said mishap was a result of breaking of wooden cross of HT Frame near Goripora Hamdania Colony which resulted in sagging of conductor to a lower level and denied any negligence on their part and claimed that all safety measures to safeguard the life and property of the people were taken.
Adjudicating upon the matter Justice Dhar observed that according to the reply filed by the Power Development Department, the respondents have admitted that on the fateful day, Bemina-Budgam transmission line tripped down and after ascertaining the reason, it found was that one wooden cross of HT Frame near Goripora Hamdania Colony was broken which resulted in sagging of conductor to a lower level.
"Thus, even as per the case of the respondents, the reason for happening of the occurrence is sagging of conductor of transmission line to a lower level. This had happened because the wooden cross of HT Frame had broken", the bench noted.
Underscoring the vitality of the functions of power development department the bench observed that it is the duty of officers/officials of the Power Development Department to regularly check all electric connections, particularly vital installations, high tension wires and transformers.
"It is their statutory duty to ensure that no mishap takes place on account of lack of proper maintenance of these installations. The fact that the wooden cross of HT Frame of the transmission line had broken which resulted in sagging of conductor to a lower level shows that the field officials of the respondent Department have failed in their duty to check and supervise the transmission line", the court maintained.
Elaborating further on the matter the bench recorded,
"Authorities manning dangerous commodity like electricity current have extra duty to take all measures to prevent any mishap. High voltage electric current passing through transmission lines are invariably pass above agricultural and other cultivable/uncultivable lands. If the authorities of the respondent Department are allowed to wash off their hands from a case where some mishap has taken place due to the falling of transmission line on the fields where people are working, it will have dangerous consequences and no one would allow the transmission lines to pass over his/her fields".
Holding the respondents guilty of negligence the court took recourse to principles governing assessment of compensation in MACT cases or fatal accidents cases and went on to award a sum of Rs.24.00 lacs along with interest @6% per annum, except upon the component of future earnings, from the date of filing of this petition till its realization is awarded in favour of the petitioner.
Case Title : Mst Mala Begum Vs State of J&K
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 227
Coram : Justice Sanjay Dhar
Counsel For Petitioner : Mr MA Wani & ZA Wani
Counsel For Respondent : Mr Asif Maqbool.
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