The Permanent Lok Adalat constituted to settle disputes relating to public utility services has awarded Rs. 2.7 lakh as compensation to a headload worker who was gored by a captive elephant.

It directed the elephant's owner, G. Vishambaran of Kollam, to pay Rs.1.7 lakh. The insurance company, which extended accident indemnity coverage for the elephant, will pay the balance.

The forum chaired by A. Dennison and comprising K.M.A. Latheef and D. Santosh Kumar as its members passed the order last week on the basis of a petition filed by Niyaz, 56, of Kollam.

Niyaz said he along with a friend was asleep on the verandah of a textile shop at Kottiyam after unloading a consignment of fish at a nearby market at 2 a.m. on April 11, 2005. Two mahouts, Rajesh and Vishwambaran, were escorting a captive elephant along the route. Niyaz stated that the elephant gored him, apparently without any provocation.

He alleged that the mahouts had allowed the elephant to walk unfettered. Nizam required several costly surgeries to cure his leg. The incident left him handicapped and he was deprived of his livelihood. The Lok Adalat observed that the mahouts should have taken sufficient care to ensure that the animal did not endanger the life of others. There was no justification in “driving” Niyaz to seek satisfaction in the civil court as it was against the “spirit of the novel purpose behind the establishment of the Lok Adalat.”