Pay Rs 10 lakh ex gratia to kin of domestic breeding worker, Madras HC tells TN govt

Kalaiyarasan suffered burn injuries after expired medicines, which were part of the medical waste, exploded on June 26, 2023, and succumbed three days later.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court said that when the family of a person who knowingly consumed spurious liquor and died can be given Rs 10 lakh ex gratia, then the family of a domestic breeding checker who died while clearing medical waste of a government hospital is also entitled to similar compensation.

Justice GR Swaminathan, while hearing a petition filed by one Arjunan seeking compensation of Rs 25 lakh for his son’s death, said that recently, several people died after consuming illicit liquor and the state government announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the family of each deceased. When the family of a person who knowingly consumed spurious liquor and died can be given Rs 10 lakh, certainly the petitioner, the father of an innocent victim Kalaiyarasan, deserves no less.

The court said that Kalaiyarasan, who was working as a domestic breeding checker in a public health centre in Maravanur of Tiruchy district, went to dispose of discarded medical waste, along with garbage, behind the Manaparai urban public health centre. He suffered burn injuries after expired medicines, which were part of the medical waste, exploded on June 26, 2023, and succumbed three days later.

Refusing to accept the claim that Kalaiyarasan went on his own, the court said that unless some kind of inflammable substances were present in the waste, it would not have suddenly caught fire and enveloped Kalaiyarasan in flames. A worker’s right to life cannot be deemed contingent on the mercy of the employer or the state.

The court noted that Kalaiyarasan should not have been put on this job as he was not meant for such type of work. The authorities must adhere to the disposal regime set out in the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016. In this case, Kalaiyarasan must not have been permitted to douse the garbage with sanitiser liquid and set fire to the same.

“No precautions were taken in this case. He was instructed to dispose of the garbage by setting fire to it. Such disposal was not contemplated by law and I find an egregious breach of the aforesaid rules in this case,” the court said and directed the state government to provide compensation.

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