JKL High Court Holds State 'Strictly Liable' To 5-Yr-Old Permanently Disabled Due To Electrocution, Orders 30 Lakh Compensation
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently awarded compensation of Rs 30.2 lakhs to a five-year-old boy disabled for life by 33,000 KV HT line laid by the Power Development Department (PDD). The liability for negligence cast upon the functionaries of the State would lie within the parameters of "strict liability" under law of Torts, the Court reiterated.
The Minor had come in direct contact with live 33000 KV HT line passing through adjacent to his residential house. The installation was said to have been made despite objections raised by the inhabitants of the village, including the minor's father. He approached the court seeking Rs. 1.22 crores compensation.
The victim submitted that as a consequence of negligence shown by the respondents he suffered severe burn injuries on account of electrocution and was operated on a number of times resulting in amputation of his right hand, thumb of the left hand, finger of right foot, besides burnt injuries to the whole body. The disability was assessed by the Medical Board to the extent of 90% Permanent in nature.
State on the other hand claimed the victim got electrocuted due to his own negligence while playing with some metallic object on his 3rd storied residential house, as confirmed by the locals of the area.
Dealing with the matter Justice Wani noted that father of the victim had constructed 3rd storey of his residential house in close proximity of the HT line in question having been laid in the year 2012. It observed that it was incumbent and obligatory for the respondents under Jammu and Kashmir Electricity Act, 2010 read with Jammu and Kashmir Electricity Rules 1978 to have not permitted construction of 3rd storey in close proximity of HT line.
"The said assertion of the respondents 1 to 4 is not based on any proof or documentary evidence supporting the said assertion. The said assertion is stated to be based on the version of the locals whose particulars even have not been provided in the objections" the court added.
Expounding on the Strict Liability Principle applicable to the instant case the bench placed firm reliance on the Supreme Court judgement in Mc Mehta Vs Union of India 1987 where it was held,
"Where an enterprise is engaged in a hazardous and inherently dangerous activity and harm is caused on anyone on account of the accident in operation of the such activity, the enterprise is strictly and absolutely liable to compensate those who get affected by the accident and such liability is not subject to any of the exceptions to the principle of strict liability under the rule contained in Rylands Vs. Fletcher".
Finally, the Court directed the respondents to pay an amount of Rs. 30,20,000/- (with interest) to the victim by depositing the same in a Fixed Deposit Account.
"Monthly interest that would be earned on the aforesaid amount of compensation during the period of minority of the victim petitioner shall be withdrawn by the father of the victim petitioner and spend upon victim petitioner as monthly expenses including treatment", the bench concluded.
Case Title : Aatif Irshad Kumar Vs UT of J&K
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 247
Coram : Justice Javed Iqbal wani
Counsel For Petitioner : Mr BA Tak
Counsel For Respondent : Mr Asif Maqbool DyAG, Mr Suman Sharma Adv