CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has declined to interfere against the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)’s order where it directed the state government to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to the family of each of the 40 persons, who died in various parts of Cuttack and Khurda districts by consuming spurious liquor.
The hooch tragedy had happened in February 2012. The NHRC had issued the order on February 11, 2015 on a petition filed by Raghib Ali, member governing board Manav Adhikar Jan Nigarani Samiti (Uttar Pradesh). But the state government challenged it in the high court in August 2015.
While dismissing the petition on Tuesday the division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice M S Raman said, “The court notes that even otherwise for the accidental deaths, an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1,50,000 is usually paid by the state government. The NHRC itself noted that the Justice Naidu Commission has already recommended payment of such relief to the families of victims. Consequently, the court is not persuaded to interfere.” Justice AS Naidu, a retired high court judge was appointed Commission of Inquiry after the illicit liquor deaths of brick kiln workers. The incident rocked the state and also led to the resignation of excise minister AU Singhdeo on moral grounds.
Justice AS Naidu Commission of Inquiry submitted its report in April 2013 confirming that 41 persons had died after consuming contaminated medicinal preparation containing spurious alcohol.The Commission recommended payment of Rs 1.5 lakh as compensation to the families of the 40 deceased although 41 people had died in the tragedy. The Commission was not inclined to pay damage to one of those dead as he was one of the illicit vendors of the spurious liquor.The state government accepted the report of the Judicial Commission, but decided not to pay compensation to the families of the victims.