Chennai

Madras High Court asks Chennai Corporation to pay carousel operator ₹1 crore

A view of the Madras High Court in Chennai. File

A view of the Madras High Court in Chennai. File   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

Victim had become a paraplegic after a lamp post fell on him in 2009.

April 27, 2009 must have been the darkest day in the life of N. Ananda Kumar, a 26-year-old carousel operator at the Marina beach here, when a lamp post near Vivekanandar Illam fell on him, making him a paraplegic. More than 10 years later, the Madras High Court has come to his rescue by awarding him a compensation of over ₹1 crore.

A Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and P. Velmurugan suo motu enhanced the compensation amount from just ₹5 lakh awarded by a single judge, who had allowed the victim’s 2009 writ petition. The enhancement was ordered while dismissing an appeal preferred by the Greater Chennai Corporation against the single judge’s July 4, 2019 order.

Holding that the victim was entitled to a compensation of ₹63.26 lakh, the Bench directed the Corporation to deposit the amount in his bank account along with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum from May 27, 2009 on or before February 22, 2020, or appear in person before the court on that day.

Interest on deposit

From the deposit, the victim should be allowed to withdraw ₹ 10 lakh within a week and the rest of the amount should be kept in a monthly interest-bearing fixed deposit for at least 10 years. The interest should be paid to the victim every month without any hassle and no tax should be deducted at source, since the money was only a compensation awarded for disability, the Bench ordered.

The preamble to the judgment penned by Justice Kirubakaran read: “Celibacy or matrimony is one’s choice. He or she can choose either of it according to one’s own wish. Nobody can be compelled either to undertake celibacy or to get into matrimony, and if it is done, it will be a violation of the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

“Here is a case where a healthy male person is compelled to undergo celibacy because of injuries sustained in an accident. Such a situation is a very grave one. The victim has lost marital prospects depriving of him of marital bliss apart from suffering serious complication of autonomic dysreflexia. His pain, suffering and mental agony can neither be estimated nor compensated.”

Accidents were a source of violation of human rights and the fundamental rights of citizens. Therefore, government officials must be vigilant in not ending up causing such accidents. In the present case, the Corporation had not ensured that sufficient warning boards were created around the area where its contractors were cutting down an electric lamp post, the judges said.

It was the case of the Corporation that the carousel operator was talking on a phone while walking on the road and it was his fault that he did not notice that the lamp post being cut down, but the judges rejected the claim for want of proof. They pointed out that the Corporation had not produced any evidence to prove sufficient warning signs had been kept near the lamp post.

After summoning the wheelchair bound victim to the court and finding that he was suffering from incontinence, the judges granted him compensation under various heads, including ₹ 28.56 lakh for loss of income, ₹ 3 lakh for pain and suffering, ₹ 2.5 lakh for loss of marital prospects and bliss, another ₹ 2.5 lakh for loss of amenities and ₹ 12 lakh towards attendant charges.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 2:43:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hc-asks-corpn-to-pay-carousel-operator-1-cr/article30071097.ece

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