Court Directs Government Administration to pay Victim Citizen Rs 3 Lakh
“Law is the greatest human invention.
All the rest, give man mastery over his world.
Law gives him mastery over himself. Lyndon B. Johnson
Aristotle said that the law is a pledge, that the citizens of a State will do justice to one another.
Our Constitution goes much beyond that.
It takes a pledge, that justice shall inform all institutions of the national life.
Nation’s continuing dedication to Rule of law need not to be affirmed.
If rule of Law is an Ideal, the establishment of that rule is practical work of practical men.
The first condition of law is justice……………Law must not be prisoner of privilege.
The second condition of law is Institutions…………………Courts Of law are Parens Patriae and risen time and again to deliver justice and sooth the citizens.
The third condition of law is acceptance…………………….The administration and government must realize it and perform their duty and lawful obligations towards citizens.
Justice has been regarded as one of the greatest concerns of mankind on this planet.
Our Constitution, in its very preamble, speaks of justice as one of the great values which its makers have cherished.
The law that contains the principles that will govern the liability of the State, for torts committed by its agencies, should be just in its substance, reasonably certain in its form and fairly predictable in its working.
In any modern society, interactions between the State and the citizens are large in their number, frequent in their periodicity and important from the point of view of their effect on the lives and fortunes of citizens. It also encompasses all wrongs for which a legal remedy is considered appropriate.
THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a 1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the 2[unity and integrity of the Nation];
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
If the State exists for the people, this ought not to be the position in law.
An organization which is set up to protect its citizens and to promote their welfare, should, as a rule, accept legal liability for its wrongful acts, rather them denounce such liability.
In 2013 a dead tree fell on leg of 23 year old woman Kajal, whose leg had to be amputated due to gangrene development.
Kajal approached the High Court in year 2014, seeking compensation on account of the alleged negligence on the part of Chandigarh administration and municipal corporation (MC).
The administration argued that MC is required to follow procedure laid down for the removal of trees and there is no laxity on the part of any official and as such none is responsible for the mishap.
IN the high Court it, came to light that in January 2013, executive engineer (horticulture) of Union Territory (UT) of Chandigarh, had recommended for removal of three trees in Sector 17, including the one which fell on the woman.
The adviser to administrator gave the nod for same in February 2013, but tender for removal of tree could not be awarded due to procedural delays.
The tender was awarded in October 2013, a month after the incident, in which dead tree fell on leg of Kajal and her leg had to be amputated.
The high court bench of justice MMS Bedi did not accept UT’s argument, and decided that:
"prima-facie, it is a case of negligence on the part of the respondents.
The respondents have got a duty towards the protection of the citizens of the city. In the present case, prima-facie, there is a breach of the said obligation by not taking expeditious decision to remove the culprit tree.” and directed UT to grant Rs.3 lakh to the victim woman within one month.
The petitioner was an unmarried girl of about 20 years of age on September 15, 2013, when she suffered injuries in Sector – 17, Chandigarh, pursuant to a dead tree having fallen on her leg. On account of gangrenous development in her leg, her leg had to be amputated.
Through instant petition, she has approached this Court for grant of adequate compensation for the amputation of her leg, on account of negligence on the part of Chandigarh Administration, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, and the Horticulture division of Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh.
In reply filed on behalf of respondents No. 2 and 3, it has been pleaded that the injuries received by the petitioner are not concerned with the said respondents.
The plea, taken by respondents No. 2 and 3, is as follows:
“It is however submitted that there is a procedure for removal/ disposal of dead / dry trees in Chandigarh. The Chandigarh Administration issued a notification on dated 12.11.1992 & dated 23.2.1999 laying down the said procedure according to which the final orders for removal of tree is to be obtained from the Advisor to the Administrator after verification.
Copy of the said letters/ notifications are appended as Annexure R-1
and R-2. The letter dated 16.1.2013 addressed to the Executive Engineer (Horticulture) was dealt by the office and the case was refer to the SDE (H) for necessary action for scrutiny / processing the case. The SDE (H) vide his letter dated 28.1.2013 recommended for removal of three trees in Sector 17, Chandigarh. The case was thereafter dealt by the office on 8.2.2013 and was recommended to the Superintending Engineer. The case file was received back after the approval of the Advisor and the matter was referred to the SDE for submission of case for fixation of the reserved price and its approval thereof. The reserve price was fixed on 11.4.2013.
It is further submitted that the cases for the approval of the trees are grouped in one lot and thereafter the bids are invited for the removal and disposal of such trees. Accordingly, in that lot of 19 no. trees were got uprooted and the approval for the reserve price of last lot Ram Darbar trees (4 nos) was received on 19.6.2013, thus making it a total of 19 nos. The bid documents were prepared and for the 1st time the bids were invited on 20.7.2013 and no bids were received on that date. In the 2nd time, the bids were invited on 2.8.2013 and no bids were received for the 2nd time also. For the 3rd time, the bids were invited on 30.9.2013 and the allotment of the work was approved in favour of Sh. Anil Kumar, Contractor, Maloya,
Chandigarh for Rs. 63,642/- on dated 1.10.2013 and the allotment letter to him was issued by this office on 8.10.2013 with a time limit of one month and the trees were uprooted within the stipulated period. It is further crystal
clear that the office is required to follow procedure laid down for the removal of trees and there is no laxity on the part of any official of the M.C. Chandigarh and as such none is responsible for the mishap.”
A perusal of the above said reply clearly indicates that on account of cumbersome procedure provided by the Chandigarh Administration for removal of trees, including the dead trees, the incident of September 15, 2013, has occurred. It is admitted that the dead tree, which had caused injuries to the petitioner, was one of those trees which were to be removed after all the formalities as per the recommendation dated January 28, 2013, for removal of the tree by S.D.E. (Horticulture).
It will be premature to express any opinion, regarding the relief, which can be granted to the petitioner, but, prima-facie, it is a case of negligence on the part of the respondents.
The respondents have got a duty towards the protection of the citizens of the city.
In the present case, prima-facie, there is a breach of the said obligation by not taking expeditious decision to remove the culprit tree.
Despite a recommendation having been made on January 28, 2013, for removal of the tree, the incident has taken place on September 15, 2013, clearly indicating that there was a breach of obligation, which has caused damage to the petitioner.
The petitioner is, prima-facie, entitled to be compensated for the above said incident.
……………….. that the respondents will pay an interim compensation of Rs. 3,00,000/- to the petitioner within a period of one month.
KAJAL V/S CHANDIGARH ADMINISTRATION
High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh