Death due to Negligence: No Relief from MCD
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07 July 2010
New Delhi, India
Death due to its negligence doesn’t seem to bother the MCD too much. Even as such cases are routine, believe it or not, MCD has no provision for paying compensation to the victim’s family.
“If a death or accident takes place due to MCD’s negligence, no compensation is usually paid to the victim or the deceased’s family,” said MCD press and information director Deep Mathur.“However, the mayor may give money from his discretionary funds. From our end, we initiate action against the erring officials.”
However, the guilty official rarely gets punished, say sources in the civic body.“An official is usually immediately placed under suspension for dereliction of duty. The inquiry usually takes time and then one has to decide whether a minor or major penalty will be levied. By this time, the matter is usually forgotten. In some cases, when the offence is not major, the official is just suspended for a certain period,” said an MCD official who didn’t wish to be named.
Therefore, the best course of action for a victim of the family is to approach the court. Most of the time the courts, especially Delhi high court, have taken a very grim view of such official callousness that leads to death. The compensation, calculated after taking into account several factors like age of the victim, family status, employment and income, has often been generous. HC has rarely hesitated in pinning liability on the civic agencies in the city, once it has been established that the death of a victim was avoidable.
For instance, in February this year, a division bench of HC granted Rs 15 lakh as compensation to the families of two boys who died after falling in a seven–foot deep pit dug by the MCD in Shakarpur area of the capital. The court was pained to know that though the pit was dug in December, the MCD refused to cover it or place any warning signs next to it, resulting in the two kids’ fatal fall. The court slammed the MCD and asked it to cough up Rs 7.5 lakh for each family even as it ordered a police probe for establishing criminal negligence.
In fact a PIL is being heard in HC on the issue of fixing liability on civic agencies. It was filed by a lawyers’ body after a senior retired civil servant lost his life in Malviya Nagar when he fell into an uncovered pit dug up for construction related to Commonwealth Games. Besides demanding a hefty compensation for the victim’s widow, the PIL also seeks comprehensive guidelines from the court to ensure that such negligence is checked. Hopefully, whenever the verdict comes from the court in this matter, it will act as a deterrent for the officials.