CHENNAI: Death due to electrocution during natural calamity is not an act of God but because of negligence on the part of the TN Electricity Board, the Madras High Court has held.
‘Room’ Batcha (40) died of electrocution when he ventured out to his agricultural land in Sayalkudi village in Ramanathapuram district on September 4, 2009. His wife R Pareetha Beevi and two sons moved the Madras High Court seeking compensation of Rs. 6 lakh. They contended that the death had happened due to the poor maintenance by the Electricity Board.
In its counter, the TNEB submitted that if at all the petitioners were aggrieved, the proper remedy was to file a civil suit. Falling of a live wire was due to a natural calamity and it was the negligence on the part of the deceased, who inadvertently came into contact with it.
Rejecting the submissions, Justice S Vaidyanathan said that the undisputed facts are that Batcha died due to electrocution; he has not done any illegal act or violated the provisions of the Electricity Act; the death on account of electric shock has been admitted by the Electricity Board and immediately after the incident it rectified the fault by joining the snapped wires.
When these facts are not in dispute, asking the legal heirs of the deceased to approach a civil court is not going to answer the question. As the death had occurred not on account of negligence of the deceased, but due to electric shock, whether it is due to rain and heavy winds, there is no justification on the part of the Board in asking the petitioner to approach the civil court and the contention of the Board that the death occurred beyond their control, i.e. act of God, cannot be accepted. The Board was negligent since it had not maintained the electrical wires properly, the judge said.
Fixing the income of the deceased at Rs. 3,000 per month, the judge ordered payment of Rs. 5 lakh as compensation by the Board, within three months.