Should A ‘Welfare’ State Compensate Family Of A Doctor Shot Dead By Punjab Home Guard Constable, Even If It Has No Vicarious Liability: SC Notice To Punjab Govt [Read Order]

Should A ‘Welfare’ State Compensate Family Of A Doctor Shot Dead By Punjab Home Guard Constable, Even If It Has No Vicarious Liability: SC Notice To Punjab Govt [Read Order]

While considering a special leave petition filed by a widow of a doctor who was shot dead by Punjab Home Guard Constable, the Supreme Court bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice RF Nariman has issued notice to the state only to consider whether irrespective of fact that state may have no vicarious liability in the present situation, whether the state can, as a welfare state, offer some amount of compensation.

In an incident that happened in 1997, a Punjab Home Guard Constable Nasib Singh fired at Dr Parkash Singh Dhaliwal with his official rifle and later killed himself with the same rifle.

His family members approached the high court seeking compensation from the Government of Punjab as Nasib Singh Constable was an employee of the Punjab Government who had killed Dr. Parkash Singh Dhaliwal without any reason.

The single bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court awarded total compensation of Rs.23, 25,800 to the victim family, observing that official rifle was used by the PHG constable, and therefore state is liable to compensate.

The division bench, allowing the appeal filed by the state, set aside the single bench order holding that when there is no material to suggest the use of the weapon in the discharge of the official functions and in the absence of any clear-cut regular employment of the offender with the state, it would be unjust to hold the state vicariously liable for the acts done by someone driven by a personal vendetta.

Read the Order Here