2010(5) ALL MR (JOURNAL) 59
(ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT)
ASHOK BHUSHAN AND VIRENDER SINGH, JJ.
U.P. Power Corpn. Ltd. & Anr.Vs.National Human Rights Commission & Anr.
C.M.W.P. No.13821 of 2010
27th May, 2010
(A) Protection of Human Rights Act (1994), S.18(a) - Compensation - Death due to contact with live wire of 11000 volts which had come down from pole - Negligence of Power Corporation to maintain transmission line in good condition - Human Rights Commission was justified in proceeding under the Act and granting compensation. (Para 11)
(B) Protection of Human Rights Act (1994), S.18(a) - Compensation - U.P. Power Corporation fixing compensation at Rs.1,00,000 in case of death or injury - Human Rights Commission can award compensation over and above Rs.1 lakh - Power of commission are in addition to any other provisions covering the subject matter and it can award compensation "as it may consider necessary". (Para 13)
-ASHOK BHUSHAN, J. :- These two writ petitions challenging the orders passed by the National Human Rights Commission and other of U.P. Human Rights Commission respectively, raise similar question of law and have been heard together. Brief facts necessary to be noticed of these two writ petitions are; writ petition No.13821 of 2010 has been filed by the U.P. Power Corporation Ltd. challenging the order dated 6.11.2009, recommending General Manager U.P. Power Corporation to pay a sum of Rs.3,00000/- as monetary relief to the next of kin of deceased Ramadhar Yadav. The deceased Ramadhar Yadav was electrocuted, while working on an electric pole of 11 KV Transmission Line. Ramadhar Yadav was an electric mechanic, who although was not regular or causal employee of the U.P. Power Corporation but the work was being taken from him by the employees of the U.P. Power Corporation and on a fateful day on 6.8.2008, it is the case of the petitioner that the deceased Ramadhar Yadav was called from his house by one Markandey Singh, skill coolie and Chandrapati Pandey, S.S.O for repairing of 11 K.V. Line. Ramadhar Yadav, while working on the pole suffered electric current and was taken to hospital by aforesaid two persons and thereafter to Varanasi, where he died on 8.8.2008. A complaint was filed by the respondent No.2, the son of the deceased Ramadhar Yadav before the National Human Rights Commission, who after calling a report from the Corporation and Senior Superintendent of Police, Mau held an inquiry and thereafter passed the impugned order holding that the Commission has found in some other cases that outsiders are some times engaged in an unauthorised manner for repairs of transmission lines. This practice results in serious violation of human rights inasmuch as the hapless worker is not only exposed to insecurity of life but is also deprived of the benefits of labour laws. The National Human Rights Commission recommended for payment of a sum of Rs.3,00000/- as monetary relief to next of kin of the deceased Ramadhar Yadav.
2. In writ petition No.41053 of 2008, the petitioner has challenged the order dated 27.3.2008, passed by one member of U.P. Human Rights Commission. The facts of the case are that one Smt. Chandrawati Devi, wife of Nand Lal Yadav, while going to her paddy field on 8.9.2007 at 8:00 a.m. in the morning came in touch with a live wire of 11000 volt which had broken from pole and was hanging near the earth. A complaint was submitted by the respondent No.2, the husband of Smt. Chandrawati Devi in January, 2008, stating that wife of the complainant came into contact of live wire of 11 KV on 8.9.2007, while going to her agricultural field and fell down, who was subsequently taken to hospital, she was being treated at Varanasi and an amount of Rs.70,000/- had been spent towards treatment and an amount of Rs.1,00000/- has more to be spent on her treatment. The wire was broken on 6.9.2007 but no safety measures were taken by the Corporation. The Electricity Department or the State should be directed to pay an amount of Rs.5,00000/-. A report dated 24.3.2008 was submitted to the Commission by the Executive Engineer of the U.P. Power Corporation on 25.3.2008 and the Commission by order dated 27.3.2008 recommended that the Corporation should pay relief of Rs.4,00000/- within one month and further recommended for action against the guilty officials of the Electricity Department.
3. Sri Arvind Kumar, learned counsel for the petitioner challenging the orders passed by the National Human Rights Commission dated 6.11.2009 and the order of the U.P. Human Rights Commission dated 27.3.2008, contended that U.P. Power Corporation has already framed its policy for payment of compensation to the persons suffering death or injury due to electric accident. It is submitted that by order dated 19.6.2008, U.P. Power Corporation has decided that amount of Rs. 50,0001/- should be increased to Rs.1,00000/- in case of death in the electricity accident, with regard to injury in cases of total disability an amount of Rs.1,00000/- and in the cases of partial disability a proportionate amount be paid on the basis of medical certificate up to the maximum of Rs.1,00000/-. Copy of the said order has been filed as Annexure-7 to the writ petition.
4. It has been further contended that the Corporation having already fixed the maximum limit of Rs.1,00000/- National Human Rights Commission or the U.P. Human Rights Commission could not have awarded any amount more than Rs.1,00000/-. He further submits that Human Rights Commission holds only a summary inquiry and the determination of the amount contrary to the Rules and Regulations framed by the U.P. Power Corporation, cannot be made. He submits that in any view of the matter, the amount paid is excessive. Learned counsel for the petitioner further submits that there is no violation of the human rights in the accident which had occurred and complainants were free to approach the normal forum for compensation and the Human Rights Commission ought not we taken such decision.
5. Counter affidavit has been filed in second writ petition by the respondent No.2 to which a rejoinder affidavit has also been filed. In the counter affidavit, it has been stated that U.P. Human Rights Commission has rightly awarded the amount on the complaint submitted by the respondent No.2 but no action was taken by the Corporation. The Human Rights Commission has jurisdiction to pass order of compensation and there is no ground to interfere with the order of the U.P. Human Rights Commission awarding the compensation.
7. The orders impugned have been passed by the National Human Rights Commission and the U.P. Human Rights Commission in exercise of their jurisdiction under section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 has been enacted by Parliament to provide for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commissions for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. "Human rights" have been defined under section 2(d) which is as follows:
"human rights" means the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India."
8. The definition of word "human Rights" includes rights relating to life. Any violation of rights to life can be a violation of a human rights. Human rights are thus minimal rights which every individual must have against the State or other public authority by virtue of he/she being a human being. Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees life and personal liberty. Article 21 prohibits deprivation of life or personal liberty except due process of law. One of the submissions which has been pressed by learned counsel for the petitioners in both the cases is that there is no violation of human rights hence, National Human Rights Commission and U.P. Human Rights Commission committed error in initiating proceedings under the 1993 Act.
9. Coming to the facts of the first case, it is to be noted that in the said case, services of deceased Ramadhar Yadav was being taken by the employees of the U.P. Power Corporation exposing him threats of danger to his life. Ramadhar Yadav was not an employee of the Corporation nor he was protected by various safeguards which protect other regular/casual employees of the Corporation. The Commission has recorded a finding that Ramadhar Yadav was taken from his home by two employees of the Corporation Markandey Singh and Chandrapati Pandey for repairing of 11 K.V. transmission line. The finding has been recorded that at the instance of aforesaid two employees of the corporation Ramadhar Yadav climbed on the pole and while he was working on the pole, he was electrocuted. National Human Rights Commission made following observation in the order:
"The Commission has found in some other cases that outsiders are some times engaged in an unauthorised manner for repairs of transmission lines. This practice results in serious violation of human rights inasmuch as the hapless worker is not only exposed to insecurity of life but is also deprived of the benefits of labour laws."
10. The findings recorded by National Human Rights Commission fully prove that there was violation of human rights of deceased Ramadhar Yadav when his services were taken by the employees of the Corporation exposing him threats of danger to his life. Thus, the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioners that there was no violation of human rights, cannot be accepted.
11. In second writ petition, the findings have been recorded by the U.P. Human Rights Commission that a live wire broke down and was hanging on the ground in whose contact the wife of respondent No.2 Smt. Chandrawati Devi came on 8.9.2007 causing her injury. On the basis of report of the District Magistrate and S.D.O., it was found that on the pole insulator was of wood. The Wood being old broke out due to which a live wire hung four feet above the ground. It has also come on the record that information of the broken wire was given by one Lalji Yadav to the Sub Station on 6.9.2007, which was not repaired. It is statutory duty of the Power Corporation to maintain the transmission line in such a manner so as the peoples' lives are not exposed to dangers and threats from the transmission line. The officials of the Power Corporation being negligent, human rights of the citizens are violated. Hence, the second writ petition is also a case of violation of human rights and no error has been committed by the Commission in proceeding with the 1993 Act.
12. Sri Arvind Kumar, learned counsel for the petitioner submits that Corporation having already fixed the maximum amount of compensation in case of death as Rs.1,00000/-, in case of total disability Rs.1,00000/- and in the cases of partial disability proportionate amount on the basis of medical certificate up to the maximum of Rs.1,00000/-, the Commission was not entitled to award any compensation in excess of the aforesaid amount. For considering the aforesaid submissions, it is relevant to note the object as well as scheme of the Act as delineated from the various provisions of the Act. The preamble of the Act contains the key words" for better protection of human rights" thus, the object for enacting the Act was for constituting a National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commissions for better protection of the human rights . The legislature felt that the laws in existence, regulating the function of the statutory and autonomous body including the power corporation are not sufficient to protect the human rights of the citizens hence, the 1993 Act was enacted. Section 18 of the Act contains the steps which are to be taken by the Commission during and after the inquiry. Section 18 of the Act which is relevant is quoted as below:
"18. Steps during and after inquiry.- The Commission may take any of the following Steps during or upon the completion of an inquiry held under this Act, namely:-
(a) where the inquiry discloses the commission of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights or abetment thereof by a public servant, it may recommend to the concerned Government or authority-
(i) to make payment of compensation or damages to the complainant or to the victim or the members of his family as the Commission may consider necessary;
(ii) to initiate proceedings for prosecution or such other suitable action as the Commission may deem fit against the concerned person or persons;
(iii) to take such further action as it may think fit;
(b) approach the Supreme Court or the High Court concerned for such directions, orders or writs as that Court may deem necessary;
(c) recommend to the concerned Government or authority at any stage of the inquiry for the grant of such immediate interim relief to the victim or the members of his family as the Commission may consider necessary;
(d) subject to the provisions of clause (e), provide a copy of the inquiry report to the petitioner or his representative;
(e) the Commission shall send a copy of its inquiry report together with its recommendations to the concerned Government or authority and the concerned Government or authority shall, within a period of one month, or such further time as the Commission may allow, forward its comments on the report, including the action taken or proposed to be taken thereon, to the Commission;
(f) the Commission shall publish its inquiry report together with the comments of the concerned Government or authority, if any, and the action taken or proposed to be taken by the concerned Government or authority on the recommendations of the Commission."
13. According to section 18(a) where inquiry discloses the commission of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of violation of human rights or abetment thereof by a public servant, it may recommend to the concerned Government or authority to make payment of compensation or damages as the Commission may consider necessary." Thus, the commission has jurisdiction to recommend compensation as the Commission may consider necessary. The power of the Commission under section 18 is not inhibited by any other provisions or any State Legislature or subordinate legislation. The power of the Commission under section 18 is in addition to any other provisions covering the subject matter and not in derogation of any other provisions of law. Entitlement of a person whose human rights have been violated in accordance with the relevant statutory provisions governing payment of compensation, does not in any manner create a fetter in the right of Commission to find out the magnitude of violation of human rights and award a compensation. Thus, the mere fact that under the orders issued by the U.P. Power Corporation, amount of Rs.1,00000/- has been fixed in case of death or injury by the Corporation, does not fetter the rights of the Commission to award compensation over and above the amount of Rs.1,00000/-. Thus, the order of the Commission awarding compensation more than Rs.1,00000/- cannot be faulted on the above ground.
14. Now reverting to the first writ petition, an amount of Rs.3,00,000/- has been awarded as compensation to the next kin of deceased Ramadhar Yadav. We are satisfied that no error has been committed by National Human Rights Commission in awarding a compensation of Rs.3,00,000/- to the next of kin of the deceased Ramadhar Yadav. No grounds are made out to interfere with the order dated 6.11.2009. The first writ petition is dismissed.
15. Now comes the second writ petition being writ petition No.40513 of 2008, as observed above the U.P. Human Rights Commission found violation of the human rights of the wife of the respondent No.2 and the findings recorded by the U.P. Human Rights Commission in so far as violation of human right of the wife of the respondent No.2, deserves no interference by this Court.
16. However, there is one aspect of the matter, which cannot be ignored. The wife of respondent No.2 came into touch with the electric wire on 8.9.2007 and complaint appears to have been submitted in January, 2008, copy of which has been filed as Annexure-7. In the complaint, the respondent No.2 after narrating the incident that his wife came into contact with 11 kv line and suffered injury whose treatment was going on in Meridian Nursing Home And Hospital Private Ltd. Saidpur, Ghazipur Road, Varanasi, it was stated in the complaint that an amount of Rs.70,000/- has already been spent and it has been clarified that a further amount of Rs.1,00,000/- is likely to be spent on her treatment. After making the aforesaid claim, in last paragraph of the complaint, the respondent No.2 claimed that State or Electricity Department be directed to pay Rs.5,00000/-. When in the complaint an amount of Rs.70,000+ 1,00000 has been disclosed towards the medical expenses including the amount likely to be spent on treatment. we see no basis for the U.P. Human Rights Commission to award an amount of Rs.4,00000/-. It has been noted in the order that one of the toe which was burnt has to be amputated. The Commission was considering the violation of human rights and compensation to be paid on the basis of such violation. When the complaint himself in January, 2008 in his complainant has stated total amount likely to be spent was Rs.70.000+1,00000 we do not see any reasonable basis for awarding compensation of Rs.400000/-. We however, do not propose to remit the matter to the U.P. Human Rights Commission for redetermination of the amount for payment of compensation to the complainant's wife. Since the violation of human rights is proved and any further delay in payment of compensation shall be denying the relief to the respondent No. 2.
17. In the facts and circumstances of the present case, we are satisfied that the order of the U.P. Human Rights Commission directing for payment of Rs. 4,00,000/- be substituted with a direction to make payment of Rs.2,50,000/-. The second writ petition is thus, partly allowed by substituting the direction for payment of Rs.2,50,000/- as compensation within one month.
18. In the result first writ petition being writ petition No. 13821 is dismissed. The second writ petition being writ petition No.40513 of 2008 is partly allowed by modifying the order of the U.P. Human Rights Commission dated 27.3.2008 to the extent that an amount of Rs.2,50,000/- be paid as compensation to the wife of respondent No.2 within one month.