The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has faulted the State government for allegedly escaping from its responsibilities with regards to providing solace to electrocution victims. In one incident of electrocution, a person died and two others sustained injuries under the jurisdiction of North Eastern Electricity Supply Company of Orissa Limited (NESCO). The State government was made a party in the case which was heard by the NHRC.

While replying to NHRC's show-cause notice, the government had stated that 5 per cent of shares in the distribution company NESCO were held by Reliance Infra Limited, a private company, and hence Reliance Infra Limited was responsible in the case.

The State government had subsequently sent the NHRC recommendation for consideration of compensation to the victims to NESCO. “The issue raised by the State of Orissa is only a technical one. Before privatisation of distribution business, the Grid Corporation of Orissa Limited, a fully-owned government company, was the owner of NESCO. After privatisation, 51 per cent equity is now being held by Reliance Infra Limited. That is to say, the State Government, through the Grid Corporation of Orissa Limited, is still holding 49 per cent shares in the NESCO,” the NHRC pointed out.

The rights body said, “thus, the State is a joint owner of the distribution company and it cannot escape its liability for breach of human rights by the NESCO under the garb of majority share holder being a private company. Hence, the State Government has to compensate the victims.”

“Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission recommends to the State government, through its Chief Secretary, to pay compensation of Rs. 3,00,000 to the next of the kin of the deceased Umakant Parida. The Chief Secretary has been directed to submit compliance report along with proof of payment within six weeks,” the NHRC said on August 29.

Unable to submit the report due to long vacation in first week of October, the State government has now sought another four weeks time to submit compliance report and injury report.