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Judiciary

Orissa HC awards Rs 10 lakh to father who lost child to stray dog attack [Read Judgment]

By Rintu Mariam      16 December, 2023 02:09 PM      0 Comments
Orissa HC awards Rs lakh to father who lost child to stray dog attack

The Orissa High Court recently directed the Puri Municipal Corporation to pay Rs 10 lakhs as compensation to the father of a child who was killed by street dogs in 2016. 


“Taking into consideration the aforementioned judgments and applying the same to the present case, this Court is of the considered view that the father of the deceased child is entitled to get compensation of Rs.10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakhs) due to death caused by the street dogs’ bite. Accordingly, this Court directs opposite party no.4 (Puri Municipal Corporation) to pay Rs.10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakhs) as compensation to the father of the deceased within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of this judgment, failing which the amount will carry interest @ 6% per annum from the date of passing of the judgment till such payment is made”, a bench of Acting Chief Justice BR Sarangi and Justice Murahari Sri Raman directed. 


The petitioner, an advocate by profession filed a PIL seeking to control and check the roaming dogs within the human inhabitants and to pay compensation of Rs.10 lakhs to the family of the deceased child.


On the eventful day, four roving dogs furiously attacked the child and within 2 to 3 minutes the child breathed his last. Hearing his cry, though his mother and neighbours rushed in, the child couldn’t be saved. 


The petitioner contended that the frightful incident has happened due to negligence on the part of the State Administration. It is the duty of the State to save and protect the lives of the people as per Article 21 of the Constitution. Also, the father of the deceased child has lost his only son due to attack of the street dogs. Therefore, for the mental agony and sufferings incurred, he should be granted compensation of Rs.10.00 lakhs. But, the Municipal Authorities have washed their hands by giving a lump sum of Rs.50,000/- towards compensation.


The Senior Advocate PK Mohanty appearing for the Puri Municipality stated that they undertook suitable measures ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme. 1620 stray dogs have been brought under sterilization operation and the said process is continuing. So far as compensation to the family of the deceased child is concerned, he contended that there is no provision under the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950. Therefore, no liability arises for Puri Municipality in case of any death that may have occurred because of attack by stray dogs. Nonetheless, Rs 50,000 as compensation was made to the father. 


Parents lost only child, suffering permanent, HC says Adequate compensation necessary  

As such, suffering is permanent, obscure, and dark, and shares the nature of infinity. The death of the only child has caused mental agony to the parents and from that, they have not well recouped and it will continue throughout their lives, the Court highlighted. 


“Rather, it is to be seen whether the parents, who have lost their only child, are adequately compensated for the irreparable loss or damages caused to them due to negligence and callous attitude of the Municipal Administration”.


The Bench then went on explain how life and personal liberty has been well integrated into Article 21 of the Constitution of India. 


“Personal liberty has an important role to play in the life of every citizen. Life or personal liberty includes a right to live with human dignity. Life and personal liberty are inalienable to human existence, and existed even before the advent of the Constitution. Hence, the Constitution cannot be said to be the sole repository of these natural law rights. Enjoyment of a quality life by the people is the essence of the guaranteed right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The protection of the Article extends to all ‘person’, not merely citizens, including even persons under imprisonment (as regards restrictions imposed in jail).”


In view of meaning attached to ‘negligence’, the Court noted that adequate precautions were not been taken by the Puri Municipality for maintenance of the street dogs. There is no dispute before this Court that the death of the child has been caused due to attack of the street dogs. “Thereby, the Municipal Authorities have failed in their due discharge of statutory duties enshrined in the Orissa Municipal Act, 1950. Therefore, the negligence caused by the Municipal Authorities in due discharge of their statutory responsibilities cannot be absolved its liability to pay compensation contending that there is no provision under the Orissa Municipal Act, 1950 to pay compensation.”


Referring to various Supreme Court cases and DK Basu’s case, the Court went through grant of compensation in proceedings under Articles 32 and 226 for the established violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 - for penalising the wrong doer and fixing the liability for the public wrong on the State which failed in the discharge of its public duty. 


The Court also stated that mere punishment of the offender won’t offer much solace to the victim’s family. What may be a useful remedy here would be monetary compensation, was the Court’s view. 


“A Court of law cannot close its consciousness and aliveness to stark realities. Mere punishment of the offender cannot give much solace to the family of the victim-civil action for damages is a long drawn and cumbersome judicial process. Monetary compensation for redressal by the Court finding the infringement of the indefeasible right to life of the citizen is, therefore, a useful and at times perhaps the only effective remedy to apply balm to the wounds of the family members of the deceased victim, who may have been the bread winner of the family.”

 

[Read Judgment]



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