Probe into failure to settle claims for kin of ship crew sought

Taking a serious view of the inordinate delay in disbursal of the amount to the parents of one of the engineers of a vessels resulting in their committing suicide, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has requested the acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court to conduct an enquiry against the Registrar-General G. Chockalingam for his failure to perform his duty. In a letter addressed to the acting Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal, the Chairman of the Commission Justice M.N. Rao said the Commission had received a representation from advocate T.P. Senthilkumar about the gross injustice meted out to K.N. Kothandapani and his wife Bharathy, who apparently had no alternative but to commit suicide on February 22, leaving suicide notes.

Justice Rao said, “The allegations against the Registrar-General Sri G. Chockalingam are very grave in nature. I would request you to kindly cause an enquiry into the allegations and take appropriate action so that such instance may not surface in future.”

Meanwhile, NCBC Member S.K. Kharventhan has forwarded the copy of the complaint to the National Human Rights Commission for appropriate action against the Registrar-General alleging that his gross failure to distribute the amount amounted to violation of rights. In his letter to the NHRC, Mr. Kharventhan said as per the High Court order the Shipping Company deposited Rs. 30 lakh on December 3, 2012 and on December 5 the High Court directed the Registrar-General to disburse the amount to the families of the six deceased crew members.

He said, “Even though the deceased K.N. Kothandapani and his wife Bharathy had submitted all necessary documents and affidavits to the Registrar-General, he had failed in his duty to settle the claim for nearly three months. Not only did he fail in his duty but also failed to follow the direction given by the High Court. Due to the lethargic attitude of the Registrar-General, the deceased Kothandapani and his wife Bharathy committed suicide on their wedding anniversary day on February 22 by leaving three suicide notes to draw the attention of the State and the judiciary to their plight.”