The High Court of the J&K and Ladakh, last week, asked concerned government authorities to think ‘out of the box’ to find solutions to the “unforeseen situations” being the managers of the electric supply. The court made the observation while awarding over Rs 24 lakh compensation to the family of a person from Uri who died due to electrocution after 11000 KV line fell upon him in 2013.
Importantly, the court responded in negative to the question whether the government can escape liability to pay compensation to the victim’s family by simply projecting that the matter involves “disputed questions of fact”.
It underlined that the authorities being the managers of the electric supply were “duty bound in law” to ensure that the requisite measures are in place to prevent the “leakage, loss of such energy or to see that the wire snapped would not remain live on the road to endanger the lives of the people.”
“It would not suffice the (authorities) to say that an individual indulged in siphoning or fiddling or any other mischief which resulted in his death,” the court said.
It also importantly pointed out that such mischief is to be prevented by the ‘managers of the electric supply’ by installing the necessary devices at the spots where the electric transformers are placed, reiterating that officials are duty bound to take extra care to prevent the mishaps.
The court has given a clarion call for developing a mechanism that would not only detect but prevent any mischief that may be resorted to illegally by any individual.
It had asked the authorities to think out of the box to find solutions to the unforeseen situations, underlining that the authorities cannot afford to be “mechanical in an era that is witnessing a tremendous industrial and technological advancement”. There is need for advanced measures to prevent mishaps, the court said, pointing out that “the hazardous activities should and must always be carried out by its managers at their own peril.”
Among others, the concerned authorities should carry audits, if possible through a third party, to detect any safety issues. The audits would help in ensuring strict adherence to the conditions laid out for distribution network infrastructure. The concerned authorities should ensure that minimum height, from the ground as per the voltage, is maintained as regards overhead lines—HTs or LTs. Transform areas should be fenced to prevent any person from going close to it and mend the lines on their own.