Death due to attack by wild animal is violative of Article 21; Bombay High Court directs compensation of 10 lakhs to the wife of the deceased

Bombay High Court

   

Bombay High Court: In a petition filed by petitioner-wife praying for quashing and setting aside the impugned communication dated 18-03-2019 issued by Respondent 2-Regional Forest Officer by which the request for compensation was rejected and seeks further directions against the Respondents to pay compensation to the Petitioner as per Government Resolution dated 11-07-2018, on account of death of her husband due to attack by wild Boar, a Division Bench of G S Patel and Gauri Godse, JJ., directed the State to pay an amount of Rs 10 lakhs to the Petitioner as compensation, within a period of three months from today, as per Government Resolution dated 11-07-2018 along with 6 per cent interest from the expiry of three months from date of her application till the actual payment is made. The Court premised the compensation on failure of State machinery to provide the required protection to human life which is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Petitioner is widow of Arun Arvind Redij who died in an accident that was caused due to an attack by a wild boar. The said accident was reported to the local police station at Ratnagiri, Gramin and FIR was registered. The spot panchanama records that a wild boar attacked and collided with the two-wheeler of the deceased, which resulted into an accident and caused the death. Spot panchanama was conducted on the very same day of the accident by the said police station.

Petitioner on 11th February 2019 made an application to Respondent no.2-Regional Forest Officer, Ratnagiri inter alia seeking compensation for the loss of life of her husband relying upon the Government Resolution dated 11th July 2018 which provides for grant of compensation in case of death of a person due to attack by a wild animal which was rejected by Respondent 2 stating that accident was not intimated to the nearest Forest Officer within 48 hours of the accident and panchanama was not conducted within three days in presence of the forest officer.

The Court noted that the panchanama records that accident was caused due to involvement of wild boar, hence, it was the duty of the said police station to inform the nearest forest office regarding the accident. It was further noted that the State Government has not produced on record copy of any Government Resolution or Order which mandates that such information is to be given within 48 hours. Thus, the Court did not find relevance on the grounds of rejection.

The Court opined that on perusal of records placed before Court, it is clear that the human life is lost in the attack by wild boar, thus the reasons given in the impugned communication are illegal and unjustified.

The Court remarked “it is a twin obligation of the State Government. The first is to protect wildlife (wild animals) and the second is to protect humans from any injuries caused by any wild animal. It is thus an obligation of the State Government to protect lives of the citizens guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.” Thus, 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.

As per Government Order relied by the petitioner for seeking compensation, the State is under an obligation to protect the human life from wild animals, and even dehors the said GR it is the obligation of the State Government to pay reasonable compensation, as the State Government could not protect the right to life of the deceased guaranteed under Article 21.

Thus, the Court quashed the impugned communication/rejection order and directed compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs within a maximum of three months from the date of the order and Rs. 50,000 as the cost of litigation.

[Anuja Arun Redij v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 2871, decided on 26-09-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the petitioner Mr RS Apte, Senior Advocate, i/b Ketan A Dhavle;

For respondent- State Mr Milind More, Additional Government Pleader.


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

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