HC directs State to pay ₹10-lakh compensation to family of domestic mosquito breeding checker

Updated - July 09, 2024 11:48 pm IST

Published - July 09, 2024 08:34 pm IST - MADURAI

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the State government to pay a compensation of ₹10 lakh to the family of a domestic mosquito breeding checker from Tiruchi district who died after he sustained serious burn injuries while disposing of discarded medical waste on the premises of a government hospital.

Justice G.R. Swaminathan observed that Article 42 of the Constitution mandates that the State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work. This is a case in which res ipsa loquitur principle applies and I fasten the State with liability, the judge observed. The court was hearing the petition filed by Arjunan of Tiruchi district. His son Kalaiyarasan was working as a domestic mosquito breeding checker at a Primary Health Centre in Maravanur at Manapparai in Tiruchi district.

Recently, a number of people died after consuming illicit liquor. The State announced an ex-gratia of ₹ 10 lakh to each family. When the family of a person who knowingly consumed spurious liquor and died can be given ₹ 10 lakh, certainly, the petitioner, the father of an innocent victim like Kalaiyarasan, deserves no less, the court observed.

The petitioner said that last year his son was sent to the new UPHC at Manapparai and asked to dispose of the discarded medical waste along with the garbage at the backyard. When his son was carrying out the instruction, the expired medicines exploded and he suffered 80% burn injuries. He was taken to the Government Hospital in Manapparai and later shifted to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in Tiruchi. Subsequently, he succumbed to injuries.

The petitioner contended that the occurrence took place on account of negligence of the authorities and sought compensation. However, the authorities submitted that the petitioner’s son on his own had burnt the medical waste and he did not obtain any instruction from superiors.

The court observed that without instruction from superiors Kalaiyarasan would not have gone to the UPHC at Manapparai for garbage disposal. This conclusion can be easily made in view of the dying declaration made by him. Kalaiyarasan said that he was asked to burn the garbage.

Any hospital waste will have to be disposed of only as per the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016. It contains elaborate provisions for disposal. The authorities have an obligation to adhere to the disposal regime set out. The State has to be a model employer. It cannot be seen compromising the safety of its employees. Kalaiyarasan was tasked to do something which he was not trained or expected to do. He had obviously been provided with a sanitiser liquid. He was instructed to dispose of the garbage by setting fire to it. No warning was given. In fact, such disposal was not contemplated by law, the court observed.

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