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A kin of deceased was granted a compensation of Rs.5 lakh. The deceased was on his two wheeler, died after falling into a pit dug on a road for construction work that was being carried out by the government [N Annamalai v The Union of India ].

 Justice GR Swaminathan (L), Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in his judgement on January 3 invoked the principle of “no fault liability” and said that the deceased was entitled to use the public road and ride his two wheeler.

“In these circumstances, I can very well without going into the question of negligence award compensation based on no fault liability approach,” the High Court said.

Therefore, even without going into claims and counter claims of negligence on both sides, the court gave allowance to deceased’s father, N Annamalai to withdraw compensation, deposited at the admission stage of the case by the concerned contractor.

Sarvanan, deceased person who used to work as a conductor in a private bus, died on August 27, 2021 after falling into a pit that had been dug by the contractor engaged by the district administration of Puddhokotai district for construction of a bridge under the Pradhan Mantri scheme.

The petitioner that the State government was vicariously liable and obliged to pay compensation.

Advocate A Rahul sided with the deceased’s father N Annamalai and the court approved the claim.

The petitioner, Annamalai alleged state government as vicariously liable for the same. In return, the  contractor, one of the respondents in the case, filed a counter-affidavit saying that the accident had occurred because the deceased wasn’t vigilant enough to read through the warning sign, indicating diversion. Advocate P Thiyagarajan was standing on behalf of the contractor.

The High Court, however, noted that both parties were negligent on their part.

Under the Motor Vehicles Act envisages an approach of no fault liability, where the owner of a vehicle that has been in an accident and causes injuries or death of another party, is liable to pay compensation, Justice Swaminathan said.

He also said that the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation also follows a policy where it gives a compensation of ₹5 lakh to the family of those who die of electrocution, without going into the question of negligence.

“Following the direction given by this Court, the contractor had also deposited a sum of Rs.5.00 lakhs. The petitioner can very well withdraw the same without prejudice to his right to claim higher compensation. Since disputed facts have been thrown up for consideration, exercising writ jurisdiction, I am not in a position to go into the same. The petitioner would allege that the contractor had not put up barricades. On the other hand, the contractor would claim that the road users had been specifically called upon to take diversion and that the occurrence took place because the petitioner’s son did not pay heed to the same. Unless evidence is taken, I cannot decide whether the contractor had breached his obligations,” the Court said.

The Court also granted the petitioner the liberty to file a civil suit if he wishes to enhance the compensation amount.



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