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The Delhi High Court directs Northern Railway and its contractor to pay Rs.23 lacs as compensation to parents of a minor who died after falling in an unprotected pit.

Sharafat Khan and Anr. vs. Northern Railway & Anr.


Sharafat Khan and Anr. vs. Northern Railway & Anr.

The Delhi High Court has allowed an appeal filed by the father of a deceased minor who had died by falling in a pit dug up for constructing a rainy well by Northern Railway and its contractor. A division bench of the Delhi High Court directed that the compensation of Rs.23,33,666/- as be paid along with simple interest @ 6% from date of filing of the petition till realization of compensation within three months.
The facts leading to the filing of the appeal are that Respondent no.1, Northern Railway engaged Respondent No.2, the Contractor to dig up a rainy. The digging work was continued for many days and the entire area had become slippery due to filling up of water in the pit/trench. The officials of the respondents did not take due precautions while digging up the said well/pit/trench. In particular Respondent No.2, the Contractor neither deputed any safety guard nor secured the place by a fence to ward-off an innocent person or animal from straying towards it and/or suffering any harm or injury. The deceased child while playing in the said area fell into the water-filled pit/trench, and died. A FIR was registered under sections 290/304A IPC wherein the Respondent No.2, contractor was implicated. The Respondent No. 2 entered into a settlement with the parents of the deceased and went on to quash the criminal proceedings by paying an amount of Rs.310000/- as compensation in lieu of quashing of the FIR.

However the Appellants, parents of the deceased filed a writ petition before the High Court praying that the respondents be directed to pay Rs.15,00,000/- along with 12% interest from the date of filing of the petition till its realization. The Writ Petition came to be dismissed by the Single Judge and as such against the order of dismissal of the Writ Petition the appellants appealed before the decision bench.
The High Court observed thus:
“Admittedly, the appellants received compensation of Rs.3,10,000/- from the Respondent No.2 only towards discharge of criminal liability arising out of FIR wherein the Respondent No.2 was implicated as an accused, however, it does not disentitle the appellants to claim further compensation from the respondents for commission of a civil wrong. The liability to pay compensation for a civil wrong and a criminal wrong are independent to each other and mutually exclusive. The appellants cannot be denied to claim compensation from the respondents for the civil wrong pertaining to the death of their minor son. The acceptance of the said compensation by the appellants is not good enough to defeat their legitimate claim of further compensation from the respondents. The respondents are liable to pay compensation to the appellants irrespective of receipt of Rs.3,10,000/- as compensation from the Respondent No.2.”
“The appellants are entitled to claim “Standard Compensation or Conventional Amount” and “Pecuniary Compensation” from the respondents. The Standard Compensation is awarded for the fatal injury caused to the son of the appellants i.e. the deceased and the appellants are also entitled to receive additional compensation for loss of dependency.”


Sharafat Khan and Anr. vs. Northern Railway & Anr.

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