Electrocution; Jairam Mishra Vs. Chief Executive Officer [Orissa High Court, 01-08-2016]

Constitution of India – Article 226 – Death was due to Electrocution – Compensation – Whether opposite parties can deny the liability on the ground that the death was due to act of a third party ?

Held, a person undertaking an activity involving hazardous or risky exposure to human life is liable under law of torts to compensate for the injury suffered by any other person, irrespective of any negligence or carelessness on the part of the managers of such undertakings. The basis of such liability is the foreseeable risk inherent in the very nature of such activity. Authorities manning such dangerous commodities have extra duty to chalk out measures to prevent such mishaps. The opposite parties can not shirk their responsibility on trivial grounds. For the lackadaisical attitude exhibited by the opposite parties, a valuable life was lost. The deceased was 21 years old at the time of accident and was prosecuting his study. Therefore, this Court directs the opposite parties to pay interim compensation of Rs.2,00,000/-(Two lakhs eighty thousand) to the petitioners within two months leaving the petitioners to work out their remedies in the common law forum for higher compensation. The writ petition is allowed. No costs.

HIGH COURT OF ORISSA: CUTTACK

PRESENT: THE HON’BLE DR. JUSTICE A.K.RATH

Date of Judgment:01.8.2016

W.P.(C) No.16804 of 2012

In the matter of an application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.

Jairam Mishra and another …. Petitioners

Versus

Chief Executive Officer (Electrical) C.E.S.U. and another …. Opposite parties

For Petitioners — Mr.D.C.Swain, Advocate; For Opp. Parties — Mr.Bibhuendra Dash, Advocate (For O.P.No.2)

Dr.A.K.Rath, J.

In this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioners have prayed, inter alia, for a direction to the opposite parties to pay an amount of Rs.4,00,000/- towards compensation for the death of their only son, Bibhuti Ranjan Mishra, in electrocution.

2. Shorn of unnecessary details, the short facts of the case of the petitioners are that on 16.11.2008 afternoon while their son, Bibhuti Ranjan Mishra was going to market on the road, he came in contact with the live naked electric wire snapped from the pole, as a result of which, he sustained sever burn injuries and became senseless. Thereafter he was shifted to S.C.B. Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack for treatment. On the way he expired. On the very same day the matter was reported at Mangalabag Police Station whereafter Mangalabag P.S. U.D.Case No.1194 of 2008 was registered. Thereafter the dead body, on completion of inquest, was sent for autopsy. The police submitted the final report declaring that the cause of death of the deceased was due to electrical shock. The doctor, who conducted the postmortem, opined that the cause of death was due to electrocution complications. The deceased was a strong and stout young man of 21 years. He was continuing M.B.A. course. With this factual scenario, this petition has been filed.

3. Pursuant to issuance of notice, a counter affidavit has been filed by the opposite parties stating therein that the factum of death of the son of the petitioners had not been informed to the opposite parties or the local authorities of CESU. Though the occurrence took place on 16.12.2008, but the writ application was filed in the year 2012. It is further submitted that the death by electrical shock does not mean that the said electrical shock was occurred due to the negligence on the part of the opposite parties. The petitioners have not filed any Succession Certificate or legal heir Certificate from the competent authorities. The petitioners have not filed any document relating to the educational qualification of the deceased i.e., graduation or MBA course.

4. Heard Mr.D.C.Swain, learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr.B.Dash, learned counsel for opposite party no.2.

5. Really two points arise for consideration of this Court ;

(1) Whether a writ application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is maintainable for payment of compensation when death is caused due to electrocution ?

(2) Whether opposite parties can deny the liability on the ground that the death of Bibhuti Ranjan Mishra was due to act of a third party ?