Rejecting Tamil Nadu Electricity Board’s contention that the electrocution of a nine-year old boy, two years ago, was “nothing but an act of God,” the Madras High Court has directed it to pay Rs. 3 lakh as compensation to the victim’s father, an agriculturist. He is also entitled to costs of Rs. 20,000.

Justice K.K. Sasidharan said that the TNEB was expected to take all precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incident. It had a statutory duty of maintaining the live wire and other electricity system used for transmission. “It is not possible to avoid the liability by pleading that the incident was an act of God.”

Petitioner G. Ponnusamy stated that his son Vimal, was studying in Standard IV in Government Middle School at Seemaputhur in Tiruvannamalai district.

On August 15, 2010, while returning from school, he was electrocuted. On August 12 , Punyakoti had lodged a complaint with the board’s Junior Engineer at Desur, Vandavasi taluk, that the electric wire to his pump-set had got disconnected and was lying in an adjacent property. No action was taken by the board.

The petitioner submitted a representation to the board claiming compensation. In a communication of May 9, 2011, the Junior Engineer informed him that the incident “was nothing but an act of God.”

Mr. Ponnusamy sought the quashing of the communication as illegal and consequently direct the board to compensate his son’s death.

Mr. Justice Sasidharan said that the board was expected to conduct pre-monsoon inspection for taking preventive measures. The counter did not contain any statement that such an inspection and preventive maintenance schedules for line and equipment had been done. The board had not strengthened the service lines. It was only on account of such negligence that the wire got snapped.

The factual matrix gave a clear indication that the board was at fault and the officials had not taken reasonable care and as a result a young boy died. The board was liable to pay compensation to the petitioner.