In a significant ruling, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has held that principal electricity supplier company is liable for the damage or death caused by mishaps like electrocution and not its franchisee holder.
Acting on a petition filed by India Media Centre (IMC) on the death of one Sanjulata Tarei due to electrocution at Paral village under Krushnaprasad block of Puri district on November 2 last year, the Commission has issued show cause notice to Southern Electricity Supply Company (SouthCo).
The company has been directed to explain within four weeks why it should not be asked to pay compensation to the family of the victim.
The victim had come in contact with 11 KV supply line on her way to the temple on the fateful day.
Due to heavy rainfall, the LT pole had come down bringing the line dangerously low. By the time the supply was disconnected, she had succumbed.
However, the SouthCo, while admitting the incident, had contended that the operation and maintenance work of the area had been franchised to Enzen Global Solutions Private Ltd.
Therefore, the franchise was solely responsible for the accident and has to pay compensation, if any.
Drawing reference to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of MP Electricity Board and Shail Kumari and others in 2002, the Commission stated that it is now a well settled law that the supplier is liable for damage caused due to negligence.
“It is a clear cut case of negligence of the supplier for not maintaining the services in safe conditions. As regards the liability to pay compensation, prima facie, the principal supplier is responsible for the same. It is for the supplier to consider as to whether or not and or how to recover the amount from the franchisee,” the Commission observed while directing Chairman of SouthCo to show cause within four weeks.