Orissa High Court: In a case where a father (‘petitioner') is seeking compensation on the death of his seven-year-old daughter, a Division Bench of S. Muralidhar CJ. and R K Pattnaik J. directed the State (‘Opposite party') to pay compensation on account of negligence by its authorities.

The Petitioner's daughter was a student of Class-I at Kolhabeda Ashram School under Ghasipura Block in the district of Keonjhar. She was staying in the hostel of the said school when one day due to sudden collapse of a newly constructed area of the hostel, she succumbed to death . Aggrieved by the unfortunate death of a young girl, the father of the deceased filed the instant writ petition seeking compensation for her death.

The District Welfare Officer, Keonjhar submitted that the Petitioner had been provided with ex gratia sum of Rs.50,000/- apart from Rs.10,000/- paid out of the District Red Cross Society Fund. Also, the In-charge Head Sevak of the Ashram School was suspended for negligence committed by constructing a kitchen shed without obtaining permission from the competent authority as well as without any technical support.

Placing reliance on Nilabati Behera v. State of Odisha (1993) 2 SCC 746, Shyam Sundar v. State of Rajasthan (1974) 1 SCC 690 and Darshan v. Union of India, 1999 SCC OnLine Del 326, the Court in Jambeswar Naik v. State of Odisha in WP (C) No. 24882 of 2012 held that a clear case has been made out for grant of compensation for violation of the constitutional right to life of the two children, resulting in their avoidable deaths at a very young age.

The Court further noted that the negligence of the State authorities in using defective materials to construct a kitchen on the school premises has already been established during the enquiry. The death of the young child was totally avoidable. The responsibility for death definitely rests with the State. The death would not have occurred if all the safety measures, that were instructed to be put in place by the State, had been strictly followed.

The Court directed the Opposite Party-State to pay the petitioner a sum of Rs.10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakhs) as compensation deducting the amount already paid to him by the State within a period of eight weeks from today. The aforesaid amount shall be directly deposited into the bank account of the Petitioner.

[Madhav Soren v State of Odisha, 2022 SCC OnLine Ori 2459, decided on 11-08-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Prabir Kumar Das, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Mr. Ishwar Mohanty, Addl. Standing Counsel, Advocate, for the Respondent.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.

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