HC orders compensation for drowning victims in Chandigarh
Over 12 years after three students drowned in a pond created in a low-lying area here, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday held the Chandigarh administration responsible for not maintaining the area and ordered compensation of Rs.7.5 lakh each to the victims' families.
Justice Ritu Bahri allowed the compensation to the parents of three young students of Manimajra area who died by drowning in a pond there Aug 28, 2002. The victims - Ajay, Vijay Masih and Vijay Kumar - were class 8 students in a government school in Mani Majra.
The three students were playing in the area where the pond had been created in a low-lying area that had not been properly maintained by the administration, counsel for the victims Satya Pal Jain said.
The parents of all three victims had filed a joint writ petition before the high court for compensation alleging that the officers of the union territory administration had ordered digging of earth, which resulted in a big low lying area, which ultimately got converted into a pond in the rainy season.
Counsel for the victims had argued that the pond was the result of gross negligence on the part of officers of the Chandigarh Administration, and the deaths had been caused because of this negligence.
The administration had however sought to wash its hands off from the whole incident, saying that the land did not belong to the government and was privately-owned.
However, the judge observed that it was the responsibility of the administration to maintain the low lying area. The court also observed that from the record and affidavits, it was clear that the administration's stand that the low-lying area was private land was proven as false.
The court, along with the compensation of Rs.7.5 lakh each, also ordered payment of interest to the families of victims from the date of filing of the petition.
(Posted on 02-09-2014)