Chennai: Holding Chennai city corporation responsible for the death of a couple, who succumbed to injury after a tree fell on the car in which they were travelling in 2005, Madras High Court directed the state government to pay Rs 29.26 lakh to their only child, a son, who escaped unhurt.
In his order today on a petition by K Kartik, son of C Krishnamurthy and K Chitra, Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar said Chennai City Corporation had failed in its statutory duty by not removing trees that were dangerous to public safety.
The Judge pointed out that trees growing on public roads are the responsibility of the corporation as per Section 203 of Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, while Section 204 made it mandatory for the local body to maintain, carry out repairs and make all improvements necessary for public safety.
The petitioner said he was travelling with his parents in the busy city area when a huge old tree fell on the car killing them instantaneously on Oct 12 2005. He was then about 14 years old and escaped with minor injuries.
After the accident he went to Salem to live with his grandparents and continued his studies there. In 2008 he had filed a writ petition for a direction to the government to pay him a compensation of Rs 22 lakh for the loss of his parents.
His father was assistant director at Director of Highway Research Station, while his mother was a teacher in a matriculation school.
The corporation said it could not be held responsible for an occurrence due to a natural calamity and that after the incident, it had identified 138 trees old and dangerous trees in the vicinity.
The judge said as per law laid down by the Supreme Court legal heirs of riot victims,custodial killings or death due to negligence on the part of the state administration could claim compensation if the facts of the case were not in dispute.
He said an enumeration by the civic body after the tragedy showed 877 trees had to be cut. In all 85 had fallen down over the years,including the one that had killed the couple.`If the enumeration was conducted prior to the occurrence,the lives of the petitioner`s parents could have been saved," he said.