Death by flex boards: Madras High Court asks Tamil Nadu government to pay ₹5 lakh to victim Subasri’s family

Recover it from officials who didn’t act against flex boards, the court says.

September 14, 2019 12:15 am | Updated December 03, 2021 08:11 am IST - CHENNAI

Subasri was crushed to death by a water tanker, which was following her two-wheeler.

Subasri was crushed to death by a water tanker, which was following her two-wheeler.

A day after 22-year-old R. Subasri, the only child to her parents, was run over by a water tanker at Pallikaranai in Chennai after an illegal flex board fell on her while riding a two-wheeler, the Madras High Court on Friday directed the State government to pay an interim compensation of ₹5 lakh to the family of the deceased.

Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and N. Seshasayee ordered that the money be recovered from government officials who failed to prevent AIADMK functionary C. Jayagopal from erecting many flex boards on the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam radial road for his son’s marriage.

Action against officials

The judges also ordered that appropriate action, including disciplinary proceedings, be initiated against the Corporation as well as police officials concerned, who turned a blind eye to the erection of the flex boards by the ruling party functionary without obtaining permission from the local body and the traffic police. They took cognisance of the woman’s death while hearing a contempt of court plea filed by activist ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy early this year.

Mr. Ramaswamy had accused the Chief Secretary of having failed to implement the court’s December 19 order banning political parties from erecting flex boards on arterial roads, platforms, walkways and major roads across the State.

HC to monitor case

Annoyed that an observation mahazar prepared by the investigating officer D. Ravi Kumar had no mention about the presence of flex boards at the scene of crime, the judges decided to monitor the investigation in the criminal case and called for a status report by September 25. They also directed the Commissioner of Police, Greater Chennai, to supervise the probe.

 

Earlier, the judges were told that two First Information Reports were registered. The first FIR was registered against Mr. Jayagopal under the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act of 1959 on the basis of a complaint lodged by an Assistant Engineer of the Greater Chennai Corporation after the woman’s death. The second FIR was registered against the tanker lorry driver under Sections 279 (rash driving), 336 (indulging in an act endangering others’ life) and 304A (causing death by negligence) of Indian Penal Code on the basis of a complaint lodged by the victim’s father and Jayagopal shall be included as an accused in this case too, the court was informed.

The judges expressed surprise over the police having expected the victim’s father to lodge a complaint though the accident had occurred in a public place and any person, including the local traffic policemen, could have lodged the complaint and set the law in motion without wasting time.

In order to ensure that such unfortunate deaths do not occur in the future, the judges directed the Chennai city police as well as the Corporation officials to come up with a joint action plan for conducting a mass drive against illegal flex boards across the city and submit it in court during the next hearing.

They also recorded that after the court took serious note of the death of the girl, major political parties, including the DMK and AIADMK, issued statements on Friday urging their partymen to desist from erecting flex boards. The court wanted the general public to be sensitised against erecting such boards for weddings, ear piercing ceremonies and so on.

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