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Delhi HC holds BSES-RPL guilty of negligence in death by electrocution of 23-year-old, awards Rs 10 lakh to family of deceased

Delhi High Court on the basis of judgment in Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board Vs Shail Kumari & Anr., AIR 2002 SC 551 held that the Company supplying electricity is liable for damages without proof that they have been negligent based on the principle of absolute liability.

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The Delhi High Court on Friday held BSES-Rajdhani Power Limited guilty of negligence on its part which has claimed a young boy’s life due to electrocution when an exposed live wire fell down upon his bicycle. The Court has awarded Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased.

The Court on the basis of judgment in Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board Vs Shail Kumari & Anr., AIR 2002 SC 551, has held that the Company supplying electricity is liable for damages without proof that they have been negligent based on the principle of absolute liability. “It is clear that BSES-RPL in any case would be liable for compensating the petitioner on account of the death of her son due to electrocution.

That apart, as noted above, this Court has also come to a conclusion on the facts of this case that respondent no 2 (BSES-RPL) was negligent in performing its duty. The death of deceased Mintu Kumar Jha took place on account of the negligence on part of respondent No 2 and it’s officials. Hence, even otherwise, apart from the principle of absolute liability, on account of its negligence, respondent no 2 is liable to compensate the petitioner,” said the Court.

The petition was filed by Munni Devi who is mother of 23-year-old boy who was died due to electrocution seeking an appropriate writ of mandamus directing Delhi Government and BSES Rajdhani Power Limited to pay a compensation of Rs.30 lakhs or any other reasonable compensation. She has submitted that this act was totally attributable to the negligence of the mentioned respondents.

The Single Bench of Justice Jayant Nath has held that,

“I direct that the compensation amount will be the liability of respondents No.2 / BSES Rajdhani Power Limited and 3/ Reliance General Insurance Company Ltd. jointly and severally. It is for them to decide inter se as to in terms of the insurance policy taken by respondent No.2, whether the liability to pay compensation is of respondent No.2 or is of respondent No.3. The payment shall be made to the petitioner within three months from today failing which the petitioner shall be entitled to simple interest @ 10% per annum with effect from today.”

The case of the petitioner was that her son Mintu Kumar Jha who was 23 years old was pursuing a degree in Bachelor of Science from Indira Gandhi Open University. He was at the prime of his youth and due to carelessness and negligence of the respondents, the petitioner lost her son at a young age. Her son had a very bright future ahead of him.

The Petitioner has further submitted that her other son Sonu Kumar Jha, who was suffering from acute depression was also passed away due to his brother’s death.

The petitioner has submitted that after the accident the petitioner regularly visited P.S. Kalkaji to enquire about the death of her son but no information regarding the same was given. Thereafter, the petitioner’s husband approached the court of Nishant Garg, MM, Saket Courts, New Delhi calling for a status report of the incident of 16.05.2007. The court passed an order directing Delhi Police to file a status report.

The Status report was filed by Delhi Police after a decade on 08.12.2017, where it was clearly stated that the death of the deceased Mintu Kumar Jha was caused due to electrocution and all injuries were ante-mortem. Despite this, no FIR was registered by the Police against the respondents.

The Court has applied the doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur” (the principle that mere occurrence of some types of accident is sufficient to imply negligence) where a young boy has died after coming in contact with a live electric wire that has fallen on the road and the counter affidavit filed by the respondents vaguely and evasively denied their part of negligence. The facts of the case made it very clear that respondent No.2/BSES-RPL is guilty of negligence. The death of the deceased took place due to the negligence of respondent No.2.

On the question of power of High Court to exercise its power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India the Court has held that,

“There is no limitations or fetter on the powers except self imposed limitations. The court has the power to award monetary compensation in appropriate cases. Where the negligence of the state/state authorities is clear from the record, appropriate compensation to the family of the victims can be awarded.”

The respondents have pleaded that the claim filed by the petitioner is barred by delay of 12 years and laches in filing of the present petition. Hence, the writ petition is liable to dismissed on the face of it.

On the question of delay the Court has observed that,

“the petitioner comes from an economically weaker section of the society. The parents of the deceased live in the interior of the Bihar. The husband of the petitioner is working as a labourer. They have painstakingly been following up with the Police for appropriate steps but no results have followed. It is only in 2017 that from the court of learned MM through status report that was filed that some details were provided as to how their son had got electrocuted. Thereafter, they have perused and filed the suit which was dismissed as withdrawn and now they have filed the present writ petition.”

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The Court said that the petitioners are illiterate and inarticulate persons and cannot be deprived of their rights in this manner.

Read the Judgment;


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