Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HC split verdict over death compensation

Ahmedabad: Two judges of Gujarat high court have differed in their judgment over issue of death compensation to family of a person killed in Army firing. The incident took place in 1985 rath yatra procession.
After the split verdict, the division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice SR Brahmbhatt referred the case of death compensation to the chief justice for further action.
The case pertains to the death of 29-year-old Gulam Rasul Rathod, who fell to bullet injury in firing done to quell rioting on Jordan Road in Dariapur on June 20.
Following this incident, Rathod’s family filed a suit in civil court demanding compensation of Rs 1.10 lakh claiming that Rathod died on the roof of his house where he had gone to get a mattress. He died in irresponsible and reckless firing by Army without any warning. The state government paid Rs 20,000 ex-gratia towards compensation. The trial court rejected the demand of the rest of the amount in 1995.
A single judge bench in the high court also rejected their demand the following year. Against this decision, the family of six persons filed an appeal before a division bench. Justice Brahmbhatt refused to interfere in the earlier orders and held that state government cannot be held responsible for the death and hence compensation cannot be given.
However, Justice Patel observed that rath yatra procession was taken out on that day even after the government denied permission.
Justice Patel cited Article 21 of the Constitution and observed, “Any casual or cavalier approach on part of the state can neither be leniently viewed nor countenanced by the court, but on the contrary, such approach not only deserves to be deprecated strongly, but should result into heavy compensation for deprivation of the life of the citizen.”

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