Kerala High Court: Following up on the tragic Tanur boat accident on 7-5-2023, the Kerala High Court through Devan Ramachandran* and Shoba Annamma Eapen, JJ. initiated suo motu proceedings on 9-5-2023. The Court opened with a heartening note “It is with shuddering hearts that we pen this order.”
Taking note of the 22 lives lost due to Tanur boat accident in Kerala on 7-5-2023, the Court said that it should have never happened. Pointing towards the various tragedies of boats capsized happening in frightening regularity killing several people at a time, the Court expressed displeasure that “citizens seem justifiably indurated to the news of loss of lives caused solely by the deathly cocktail of callousness, indifference, greed and official apathy.”
The Court questioned “How many more will we have to see?”
The Court believed that fatalities like Kerala boat accident may repeat if the Courts do not take matter in their own hands, as the obvious factors of such tragedies, like overloading, blatant violation of statutory imperatives and criminal absence of essential safety requirements, are repeated without any caution or care.
Pointing its' fingers towards the authorities, the Court said that “Every tragedy triggers routine investigations, followed by recommendations, but never to be heeded thereafter.” The Court highlighted State's failure to provide basic safety protocols while having hundreds of boats in tourism and said that another such incident may follow, if the present state of affairs are allowed to continue.
The Court prima facie viewed that the Tanur boat accident could be avoided if the authorities would have invested vital legal and statutory duty to watch and monitor the situation. The Court also pulled the operators whose illegal actions obtain deliberate or other support resulting in violations perpetrated with no fear of law.
The Court viewed judicial intervention a necessity and initiated suo motu proceedings in public interest while arraying the Government of Kerala, District Tourism Promotion Council of Malappuram and others as parties in the instant matter. The next hearing of the matter is listed on 12-5-2023, when the District Collector is specifically called in his capacity as the Chairperson of the District Disaster Management Authority.
[In re boat tragedy, dated 9-5-2023]