W.P.(C) Nos. 630 and 631 of 2013. Case: Elangbam Ongbi Amubi Devi Vs The State of Manipur and Ors.. Manipur High Court

Case Number:W.P.(C) Nos. 630 and 631 of 2013
Party Name:Elangbam Ongbi Amubi Devi Vs The State of Manipur and Ors.
Counsel:For Appellant: Kh. Tarunkumar, Advocate and For Respondents: R.K. Nokulsana, Sr. Advocate asstd. by Y. Sanajaoba, Advocate and K. Jagat, Govt. Advocate
Judges:Kh. Nobin Singh, J.
Issue:Constitution of India - Articles 21, 226, 30(1), 32
Judgement Date:February 27, 2017
Court:Manipur High Court
 
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Judgment:

Kh. Nobin Singh, J.

1. Heard Shri Kh. Tarunkumar, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioners; Shri R.K. Nokulsana, the learned Senior Advocate assisted by Shri Y. Sanajaoba, the learned counsels appearing for the respondent Nos. 2 and 3 and Shri K. Jagat, the learned Government Advocate appearing for the respondent No. 1.

1.1. The facts and circumstances of these cases are almost identical and therefore, the same are being disposed of by this common judgment and order.

W.P.(C) No. 630 of 2013

2. The instant writ petition has been filed by the petitioner praying for a direction directing the respondents to pay adequate compensation for a sum of Rs. 20,00,000/- (Rupees twenty lakh) to the petitioner.

3.1. According to the petitioner, she is the widow of late Elangbam Ranjit Singh who was engaged as a labourer in the Sewage Project undertaken by the Department of Public Health Engineering, Government of Manipur (hereinafter referred to as the 'PHED') near Kekrupat Area, Imphal and expired while performing the work of cleaning inside the manhole of the said Sewage Project. On 25-04-2013 at around 07:30 AM, her husband went down inside the manhole for cleaning work by lifting the cover of the hole using a ladder and as soon as he reached the bottom of the manhole, he fell unconscious because of suffocation. On seeing the said situation, another co-worker namely Elangbam Indra Singh who also hails from the same village of the petitioner went inside the manhole to save the life of her husband and unfortunately, he also fell down unconscious inside the manhole. As the other co-workers could not lift him up immediately for want of emergency materials to save the worker/labourer, some personnel of the Manipur Fire Service who came there pulled up her husband from inside the manhole. Thereafter, he was taken to JNIMS where the doctor declared him as brought dead.

3.2. The news about the death of her husband and another co-worker came to be published in the local daily called the "POKNAPHAM" in its edition dated 26-04-2013 wherein it was clearly written that they had died while cleaning the manhole of the Sewage Project. A post mortem was conducted on her husband's dead body and an FIR in respect thereof was also registered by the Imphal Police Station. The authorities of the PHED gave a sum of Rs. 2,10,000/- (Rupees two lakh ten thousands) only to the petitioner but they did not provide adequate compensation to the petitioner for her livelihood and three minor children left behind by her husband who was the sole bread earner of her family. Accordingly, she submitted a representation to the Chief Engineer, PHED on 10-06-2013 praying for providing adequate compensation and the same is still pending for consideration. Being aggrieved by the inaction on the part of the authorities of the PHED, the instant writ petition has been filed by the petitioner.

4. To contest the writ petition, an affidavit on behalf of the respondent Nos. 2 and 3 has been filed wherein it is stated that the Sewage Project Phase-I, Zone-I for Imphal Town was undertaken by the PHED, Government of Manipur by awarding the work to a Contractor. The petitioner's husband was not known to the PHED because he was not engaged by it for the work of cleaning the manhole of the Sewage Project. The PHED came to know about the incident from the newspaper and on coming to know about it, the Chief Engineer, PHED rushed to the site of the incident and consoled the petitioner and other bereaved members of the family. The PHED managed to help the petitioner by giving monetary help because the incident took place in the execution of the work undertaken by it. A sum of Rs. 2,10,000/- (Rupees two lakh ten thousand) only was paid to the petitioner as agreed between the petitioner and the PHED to be the last and final demand for settlement in connection with the death of her husband. The stand of the respondent No. 1 as indicated in its affidavit, is similar to that of the respondent Nos. 2 & 3 and in addition thereto, it is stated that safety measures were taken from the day the execution of the Sewage Project came to be started by the PHED and that the issue as regards the determination of liability or inadequacy of the amount already paid to the petitioner is the one which can be decided by a competent Civil Court.

W.P.(C) No. 631 of 2013

5. The instant writ petition has been filed by the petitioner praying for a direction directing the respondents to pay adequate compensation for a sum of Rs. 20,00,000/- (Rupees twenty lakh) to the petitioner.

6. The facts of the instant case are almost identical to that of the writ petition being W.P. (C) No. 630 of 2013 mentioned above. The petitioner herein is the widow of late Elangbam Indra Singh who was also engaged as a labourer for the Sewage Project undertaken by the PHED near Kekrupat Area, Imphal and expired on 25-04-2013 while performing the work of cleaning inside the manhole of the said Sewage Project. The detailed facts of the present case are not narrated herein for the sake of brevity and moreover, the stands of the respondents remain the same in both the cases.

7. Shri Kh. Tarunkumar, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioners submitted that the respondents failed to take preventive safety measures and to provide equipment/kits before such hazardous activities being carried out...

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