Mumbai: Civic bodies can be held liable for deaths, injuries caused by accidents: Legal experts
Legal experts are of the opinion that deaths or injuries caused due to apparent negligence or the inability or failure to maintain facilities are grounds for state and civic authorities to offer compensation to the victims
Jagruti Hogale lost her life on the Dahanu-Jawhar road. She fell off her bike after it hit a pothole and was run over by a truck
Legal experts are of the opinion that deaths or injuries caused due to apparent negligence or the inability or failure to maintain facilities are grounds for state and civic authorities to offer compensation to the victims. This view has been made in the wake of recent incidents, where a woman biker from Bandra, lost her life after she was thrown off her bike after hitting a pothole on Dahanu-Jawhar road and run over by a truck and the falling tree that crushed ex-Doordarshan anchor Kanchan Rajatnath.
According to The Times of India, advocte Uday Warunjikar explains that the state can be held accountable legally for deaths or injuries caused due to negligence or failure on their part under the principle of 'vicarious liability', which means the responsibility of a body for negligence by staff. In such cases the victim or victims can seek damages in the form of a writ petition in the high court, under Article 226 of the Constitution.
Also read - Mumbai woman killed in pothole accident
The above stated method was utilised in the case of Bhiwandi resident Bhavika Mehta (25), who lost her leg in 2012 after getting pushed off a moving train. Uday Warunjikar, who represented her argued that the railways failed to provide adequate security on trains. This led to Bhavika receiving a compensation from the railways along with her medical bills being paid, following the court ruling in her favour.
Chembur resident and former Doordarshan anchor Kanchan Rajatnath died after a coconut tree suddenly fell on her, crushing her. Her husband blamed civic bodies for their apathy
Another way to seek compensation is by filing a lawsuit in cases like contaminated water, bad roads or others. Advocate Firoz Bharucha says yardsticks can be applied in cases such as motor accidents, after which compensation can be calculated accordingly. Bharucha further stated that state can't express apathy when a lives are at stake.
The failure to provide proper amneties by civic and state authorities was noted in 2011, when the Bombay HC directed that a Nagpur couple, who lost their son to jaundice in 2003, be compensated by the Hinganghat Municipal Council. The court ruled that the civic body failed in providing uncontaminated water by not noticing leakages in water pipelines to avoid access to virus-infested water. The deceased's parents had earlier requested the authorities to fix water pipeline leakages to tackle the jaundice outbreak. They submitted a letter to the municipal council, which was written by the Wardha civil surgeon.
Similar to the case of Jagruti Hogale, in 2011, the public works department (PWD) were directed by the court to offer compensation to the kin of a Nashik resident, who lost his life after his scooter fell on a ditch on the road. The court stated that the PWD failed in its duty to warn motorists using display boards and thus didn't perform its duty of proper maintenance of roads.