Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court: While considering the instant petition seeking compensation of Rs. 20 Lakhs on account of permanent disability suffered by a boy of 14 years who was electrocuted due to alleged negligence by the respondents; the Bench of M.A. Chowdhary, J.*, stated that the respondent’s contention that the petitioner was himself negligent cannot be simply accepted, for the reason that a person of such a tender age of 13/14 years cannot be expected to have contributed to the unfortunate electrocution. Noting that the petitioner suffered 100% disability due to this tragic accident and having regard to the age of the petitioner, the Court awarded him monetary compensation of Rs.19,96,000 which was rounded off to Rs. 20,00,000. The petitioner was also held to be entitled to simple interest at 6% per annum from the respondents on the aforesaid amount of Rs.20,00,000 from the date of filing of the writ petition till its realization.
In 2011, the petitioner, a 7th standard student, had gone to the fields with family’s cattle and while tending them, he came near an unattended electric transformer installed by the respondents and suddenly suffered an electric shock.
As a result of the electrocution the petitioner’s left arm was amputated and left thigh also suffered debridement. The disability certificate issued by the board of doctors of SDH Akhnoor vide order dated 25-04-2013 recorded 100% permanent disability of the petitioner due to the injuries suffered.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that State being a welfare State has a liability to ensure the safety of its subjects. The State being engaged in hazards and dangerous activities, is strictly under an obligation to compensate the petitioner in respect of the negligence or carelessness on their part as in the present case, the respondents were negligent in not maintaining and keeping the transformer unattended and thus put the life of the inhabitants into danger and that the petitioner has become permanently disabled on account of the negligent act of the respondents.
Per contra, the respondents rebutted the arguments stating that that the respondents were not negligent at all, as the petitioner suffered injuries because of his own negligence. They argued that the petitioner contributed to the incident knowingly well that the transformer was tested, and all precautions were taken by the department, still the petitioner climbed over the transformer and suffered electric shock, therefore, there was no negligence on the part of respondents.
Perusing the facts and contentions of the parties, the Court did not accept the argument of contributory negligence as submitted by the respondents stating that a young child cannot be expected to have contributed to negligence in the instant case.
Furthermore, given the extensive disability caused to the petitioner in 2011, the Court determined a monetary compensation of 20 Lakhs and expressed its hope that the respondents would not make any further delays in giving the compensation to the petitioner.
[Sagar Singh v. State of J&K, 2023 SCC OnLine J&K 659, decided on 18-09-2023]
*Judgment by Justice M.A. Chowdhary
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For petitioner- M. L. Gupta, Advocate
For respondent- Ravinder Gupta, AAG