It rejects CESU’s ‘Act of God’ contention

Rejecting ‘Act of God’ contention of Central Electricity Supply Utility, Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has awarded a compensation of Rs. 2.5 lakh to a woman, whose mother-in-law died of electrocution by coming in contact with snapped live conductor.

OHRC was hearing the case pertaining death of Brahmani Bewa (70), who came in contact with a live conductor that got snapped from the overhead main electric line on the night of April 10, 2012 by thunder storm and due to the inaction of the electricity department for charging the line without rectifying the defects.

Victim’s daughter-in-law, Anupama Moharana, resident of Benupur under Balianta Police Station limits in Khurda district, also got injured in the electric accidents. Subsequently, Ms. Moharana had moved OHRC alleging that it was lapse on part of CESU, the power distribution company, that caused death.

During course of hearing, CESU Chief Executive Officers disowned the liability of company to pay any compensation to petitioner terming the incident to be an ‘Act of God’.

CESU CEO had submitted that considering the damage caused by storm at several places, the staff strength was inadequate to meet the situation arising out of such natural calamity.

OHRC, however, came down heavily on the CESU holding it responsible for the electrocution.

“We have no doubt in our mind that the CESU is responsible for the maintenance of electric line and they are duty bound to take protective measures so that live electric wires do not fall on any surface or touch any live object more so, a human being,” observed OHRC division bench comprising acting Chairperson R. N. Bohidar and Justice B. K. Mishra, member.

Commission further pointed out that, “had the CESU and its employees exercised proper care and supervision and replaced the weak conductor in time and before charging the line, had made thorough patrolling in the area, which was affected by thunder storm by placing adequate safety devices like tripping mechanism, the accident in question could have been averted.”

“We conclude that the unfortunate death of old woman and pain and suffering so caused to petitioner who received severe electric shock, when she came in contact with the live snapped conductor, was solely due to lack of care and diligence on part of the CESU and its functionaries,” OHRC said.

The Commission considering the age of victim awarded compensation to the tune of Rs. 2.5 lakh and directed CESU to pay the amount within two months.