CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has quashed a Railway Tribunal order that refused compensation to a widow and a mother of three minor daughters on the grounds that her application requesting compensation for the death of her husband was inordinately delayed.
Justice S Vimala said, social justice, an objective under the preamble of the Indian Constitution can be meted as long as it does not deprive any person of his/her existing legal rights.
Adhilakshmi lost her husband, a Southern Railway employee, in a work-related accident on February 16, 2009. As per rules, Adhilakshmi should have applied for compensation within a year but did so only five years after the accident. She, however, applied for condonation of the delay of 1,826 days while filing the petition for compensation. By an order dated April 17, 2005, the Railway Claims Tribunal rejected her plea on the ground that the delay of over five years could not be condoned. In response, Adhilakshmi petitioned the High Court.
Quashing the tribunal’s order and directing the tribunal to proceed with the case, Justice S Vimala observed that in legal terms, it may appear to be an inordinate delay, but not in the life of an illiterate woman, whose relatives and neighbours, were no better in education and who has had to take such a long time to take stock of a great tragedy which “plucked the flower from her locks,” besides reducing her, a young widow, with three minor children to take care of to a state of shock. The widow was thrown into the winds with no one to fall back on. The great loss made her weak mentally, financially and socially. Who stands to gain by this belated application? Instead, she will be the happiest person, if she is compensated at the earliest. Under such circumstances, if there is a delay, then it must be only on account of want of knowledge. The society in which she is living is the cause for that, for which, she cannot be punished the judge said.
Administration of justice can no longer be merely a protector of legal rights but must, wherever possible, be dispenser of social justice and in doing so, overlook legal technicalities. Whatever be the precise contents of social justice, it must include a recognition of the needs of the weaker sections of the community as human beings.
The court system belongs to the people and must promote constructive justice; and all institutions, including the Governments and Universities, likewise belong to the people. This commitment is the whet-stone for doing justice in the context of social good, the judge added.
Vacation Court Judges Named
Chennai: The period of summer vacation for this year has been split into four parts for the Madras High Court and its Bench at Madurai. Justices KK Sasidharan, S Vimala and P Kalyanasundaram will be the vacation judges for the first part of the vacation. They will sit on May 4 and 6. During the second part, Justices N Kirubakaran, MV Muralidharan and V Bharathidasan will sit on May 11 and 12. Justices K Kalyanasundaram, D Krishnakumar and R Mahadevan will sit on May 19 and 20 for the third part. For the last part of vacation, Justices M Sathyanarayanan, Muralidharan and B Gokuldas will sit on May 25 and 26. The courts will resume regular work from June 1.