Power departments cannot abdicate their responsibility to ensure electric supply wires running through residential areas do not threaten lives of a common man, the Supreme Court has said ordering the Haryana government to compensate an eight-year-old boy who became permanently disabled after he got electrocuted on coming in contact with a naked live wire lying on the roof of his house.
A bench headed by justice V Gopala Gowda directed Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited to pay Rs 60 lakh to Panipat-based Raman who, at 5 years, lost his both arms and left leg after he suffered incurable injuries due to the electrocution in 2011.
Of the amount Rs 30 lakh would be kept in a fixed deposit with the State Bank of Patiala, Punjab and Haryana High Court branch, under joint guardianship of the minor’s parents and the power department’s engineer-in-chief. The said amount can be withdrawn once Raman turns 21.
Restoring HC’s single-bench order, the SC further said the department would deposit the remaining amount in an interest bearing account with the same bank to enable the child meet his day-to-day needs. The interest accrued, around Rs 20,000 per month, would be transferred to Raman’s account to be maintained by the same bank. The principle amount would be transferred once he turns 21.
Noting the compensation awarded by the HC was far too less vis-à-vis the injuries, the SC also came down heavily on the HC’s division bench for making variations in the single judge’s order. It faulted the two-judges for reducing the interest amount from Rs 20,000 to 10,000.
“Having regard to the age of the boy as 5 years at the time of the incidence and longevity of life of Indian citizen as 70 years, the remaining 65 years the appellant is required to suffer from mental agony and hardship. He is virtually dead wood and further he has to undergo continuous pain and suffering at the time of attending the nature’s call, sitting, standing, walking and sleeping,” the bench noted, adding the life Raman would continue to live is worse than death.
The order to provide him with a monthly interest of Rs 20,000 was given after the court noted the boy required a permanent attendant throughout his lifetime. The department was held guilty of “statutory negligence” as Raman’s father proved that he had complained to the authorities regarding the dangerous naked wires.