Court orders payment of compensation to family of sanitary worker
Observing that not only assets but also the liabilities of parents get passed on to the children, the Madras High Court has directed a litigant to pay compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the family of a person who had died while cleaning a septic tank about 16 years ago when the litigant was a child and the house was owned by his father in Chennai.
Justice S. Vaidyanathan passed the order while disposing of a writ petition filed by A. Ravichandran alias Ravi of Kottivakkam near here challenging a communication sent to him by a zonal officer of Greater Chennai Corporation on August 21, 2017, asking him to pay Rs. 10 lakh for the death of Narasimhan, the sanitary worker engaged for cleaning work on August 26, 2001.
“The concept of pious obligation originated in Dharmasastras, according to which non-payment of debt is a sin which results in unbearable suffering in the next world. Just as Lord Rama was obligated to fulfil his deceased father’s promise to his step-mother, the petitioner herein is obligated to pay compensation to the deceased worker’s family.
“When a father’s assets are passed on to his sons after his death, so are his liabilities,” the judge said, and directed the petitioner to pay the amount to the legal heirs of the deceased within two months.
He directed the Corporation also to pay Rs. 2.5 lakh to the victim’s family within two months for having failed in its duty to prohibit manual scavenging.
The judge ordered that an amount of Rs. 7.5 lakh should be paid to the victim’s family through online bank transfer in order to avoid complaints of government officials demanding commission before handing over cheques to the beneficiaries.
Justice Vaidyanathan made it clear that the legal heirs, including the victim’s wife N. Adhilakshmi, would be entitled to claim the rest of Rs. 2.5 lakh if they were able to establish that the delay of 16 years in claiming the compensation was not because of any fault on their part as claimed by the writ petitioner.