BENGALURU: While Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) continues to drag its feet on granting compensation to the family of an excavator operator who was washed away in a drain recently, citing legal issues, experts in field have a different take.
They feel that the civic body can, in fact, give out compensation as Mayor G Padmavathi and Bengaluru Development Minister K J George have already made announcements on granting relief to the family.
On May 20, Shanthakumar was working in an open drain when he was washed away after the excavator toppled due to heavy rain.
The following day, the mayor and the minister had announced compensation of `10 lakh to his family. After four days of looking for him, the search and rescue operation was called off.
Retired Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice K Chandru, told Express, “Since the minister had announced the compensation, the officials cannot withhold it on flimsy grounds. Once the bona-fide family is identified, they must hand over the compensation. Perhaps, they can take an indemnity bond from them. The requirement that a person can be declared dead only if he is missing for seven years is only under the Evidence Act and does not apply in this case since compensation was announced presuming that the worker is dead”.
Offering his legal services to the family of Shanthakumar, former special prosecutor Venkatesh B T said, “I can take up the case pro bono if there is any further delay by BBMP in giving compensation.”
“Let BBMP officials give in writing that they need proof of death. A writ petition can be filed in court holding BBMP directly responsible for Shanthakumar being washed away in the drain. There can be no excuses to delay grant of compensation,” he added.
Former advocate general of Karnataka, Ashok Harnahalli said, “Shanthakumar cannot be presumed to be missing. He washed away in the drain. Thus, the family is eligible to get compensation. Police and BBMP officials should collect evidences and record statements of witnesses and release the compensation to the family.”
A senior police officer at Mahalakshmi Layout police station said, “A missing person’s case was filed based on the statement by the father in-law Basavaraju, who is also a contractor. He told the police that Shanthakumar was working on the site and was washed away though some co-workers tried to rescue him by throwing him a rope.”