₹10lakh compensation for death due to wildlife accident: Bombay HC to state govt
The accident in question occurred in the wee hours on February 5, 2019, when the woman’s husband, Arjun Redij, a head mechanic at MSRTC workshop, was returning home from Ratnagiri to Chanderai
Observing that the state government has a twin duty to protect the wildlife and citizens from any injury caused by the wildlife, the Bombay high court on Monday directed the state government to pay an amount of ₹10 lakh, as compensation to the wife of a Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) employee, who died in an accident caused by wild boar attack in Ratnagiri district in February 2019.
“It is an obligation of the State Government to protect wildlife as well as protect citizens from any injury caused by wildlife,” said the division bench of justice Gautam Patel and justice Gauri Godse.
“Therefore, if any wild animal causes injury to any person, this in fact is a failure of the State Government to protect right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the bench added and held that the petitioner, Anuja Redij, a resident of Chanderai village of Ratnagiri Taluka was entitled to compensation from the government.
“It is necessary to note that it is the duty of the concerned officer of the State Government to protect wild animals and not allow them to wander outside the restricted safety zone,” the bench clarified. “As a corollary, it is also the obligation cast upon the concerned officers to protect the citizens from any injuries by the wild animals.”
The accident in question occurred in the wee hours on February 5, 2019, when the woman’s husband, Arjun Redij, a head mechanic at MSRTC workshop, was returning home from Ratnagiri to Chanderai.
A wild boar attacked him because of which he fell down on road and sustained severe injuries and succumbed to it a few hours later.
The incident was reported to the local police, who conducted a spot memorandum, noting that a wild boar collided with the bike of the deceased, resulting in the accident.
On February 11, 2019, the widow of the deceased applied to the Regional Forest Offence at Ratnagiri for compensation under the Government Resolution (GR) dated July 11, 2018, that provided for grant of compensation in case of death of a person due to attack by a wild animal.
A few days after she sent a reminder, the Regional Forest Officer on March 18, 2019, informed her that her application for grant of compensation had been rejected, promoting her to move high court.
The state government contested her petition, claiming that the case was not covered by the GR, as the post-mortem report clearly stated that the deceased had died due to head injury sustained in the road accident.
The excuse, contention, however, failed to impress upon the judges.
The bench said GR imposes an additional obligation on the State Government - to pay reasonable compensation to people who have suffered losses due to wild animals.
“Thus, the approach of the State Government is not acceptable and in fact is dis-heartening,” said the court, concluding that the husband of the petitioner lost his life in the accident which was caused due to attack by wild boar and therefore the woman was entitled to compensation under the GR.
HC has now directed the state government to pay ₹10 lakh to the woman along with interest at the rate of 6 % per annum from May 2019 – the due date for payment under the GR (three months from the date of application) and additional sum of ₹50,000 towards litigation cost for compelling her to approach HC for the relief.