Delhi zoo tiger attack: HC notice on plea for compensation

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response from the Centre, National Zoological Park and the city government on a plea seeking compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the family members of a youth, mauled to death recently by a white tiger in the zoo here.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response from the Centre, National Zoological Park and the city government on a plea seeking compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the family members of a youth, mauled to death recently by a white tiger in the zoo here.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru also issued notice to the Central Zoo Authority, a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, and Delhi Police Commissioner while directing them to file their counter affidavits within four weeks.

The court asked an English news channel to respond before December 18 on the plea seeking direction to produce video footage of the incident.

The notices were issued while hearing the plea filed by the deceased' wife Fatima, who alleged that the government is liable to pay them the compensation for their "act of negligence, safety and security lapses which resulted into the tragic death of 22-year-old Maqsood who was mauled to death by a white tiger at National Zoological Park here on September 23".

The petitioner's counsel Mohammed Faisal told the court that the deceased was the only earning member in his family that included his wife, who is seven months pregnant, his mother (43) and 18-year-old brother.

The counsel said that Maqsood's father had deserted him and his family members 15 years ago.

"On September 23, 2014 deceased Maqsood went to National Zoological Park, Mathura Road, New Delhi after taking entry ticket and at around 1.00 PM, suddenly he fell into the dry moat of the white tiger's enclosure.

"According to some eyewitnesses and by some TV channels, as soon as he fell, his leg was fractured and he was unable to move. On seeing white tiger which was roaming nearby the place, the deceased started calling for help. However, the white tiger on seeing him in his enclosure encircled him and looked at him from sniffing distance for about 15 minutes," the petition said.

The plea submitted that the white tiger attacked Maqsood and dragged him away to the other end of enclosure and mauled him to death.

"His lifeless body was then dragged around for some time before the tiger lost interest. However, the zoo authorities did not take a single step to save him even as they had sufficient time of around 15-20 minutes before the attack of the tiger on Maqsood. Moreover, there were also serious safety and security lapses on the part of soo authorities," it alleged.

"The police failed to find any witnesses and registered an FIR against unknown persons which shows that they did the formalities of registering the FIR" and took it just as a "normal incident", it said.

"The zoo authorities have committed gross negligence and did not follow the guidelines, rules, norms as given under the Wildlife Protection Act," the plea alleged.

The petition said, "Maqsood lost his life because the authorities upon whom the responsibility to protect and care the visitors at the zoo (was there) have failed to discharge their duty and they have no emergency or contingency plans to rescue the people from such untoward incident."

"...Respondents 1, 2, 3 & 4 (National Zoological Park, Central Zoo Authority, Ministry of Environment & Forests and Delhi government) are jointly and severally liable for their acts of negligence and lapses of safety and security in the zoo which resulted into the tragic death of young Maqsood," the plea said.  

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