Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Saturday directed payment of compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the parents of each of the 24 engineering students of a Hyderabad college who were washed away in river Beas in near Thalot in Kullu district of the state on June 8,2014.
The HC ordered the compensation to be paid within eight weeks.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan directed that the amount compensation, including the interim compensation of Rs 500,000 already paid, would be paid along with interest at the rate of 7.5 per cent per annum from the date of the accident till realisation of the money.
Asking the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, Management of the Engineer College and the state government to share the burden in the ratio of 60:30:10, the Court observed that the "Board authorities had a major role and they failed to exercise due care and thus saddled with liability upto 60 per cent."
"The college authorities should also have ascertained all the facts including the circumstances and other factors previously in the area before planning the excursion and we deem it proper to hold the college responsible upto 30 per cent and remaining liability of 10 per cent would be borne by the state government," the order said.
The bench, which treated the matter as Public Interest Litigation (PIL), taking suo motu notice of news reports, disposed off the matter but made it clear that the findings recorded here in above are only prima facie in nature in order to grant compensation and cannot be basis for recording judgments in any civil suit, criminal proceedings or departmental proceedings.
Twenty-four students of the VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology in Hyderabad and a co-tour operator were swept away in turbulent Beas river when the Larji project authorities suddenly released water from Larji Dam on June 8 last year.
The HC had on court on June 25 ordered an interim compensation of Rs.500,000 to the families of each student who were washed away in Beas river.
Earlier, turning down a plea of the engineering institute to modify or recall its order to pay an interim compensation to the families of each victim, the high court had directed the college management to refund the amount of tuition fee of the students within two weeks.
The judges, who reserved the judgment on December 14, observed that the news about the incident was so shocking that it shattered everyone.
"Keeping in view the fact that the parents lost their sons/daughters who were undergoing engineering course and were expected to be at least engineers, which is so painful and cannot be redressed by any relief, rather no substitute is available," the bench had observed.