Madras HC Affirms State’s Vicarious Liability and Upholds Compensation for Man Injured in 2001 Protests

Madras HC Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: January 25, 2024 at 11:46 IST

The Madras High Court has upheld a compensation order for a man injured during protests following the arrest of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 2001.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy, held the State accountable, along with the political party that had called for the bandh, emphasizing the State’s vicarious liability for its inaction and failure to maintain law and order.

The Court heard an appeal by the state challenging a single-judge order granting Rs. 10 Lakh compensation to Krishnaswamy, who suffered injuries when miscreants threw stones at the bus he was traveling in on July 1, 2001.

Krishnaswamy, employed at Vysya Bank Limited as an ALPM Operator, endured a 40% permanent disability, including the removal of his left eye and the installation of a dummy eye. He sought Rs. 25 Lakh compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and hospitalization.

The State argued against liability, contending that the bandh call was for July 2, and it could only be held responsible if untoward incidents occurred on that specific date.

TheCourt noted that the Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation admitted to incidents obstructing vehicle operations and causing damage on June 30, July 1, and July 2, 2001.

The Court opined that the State, having witnessed incidents on June 30, should have taken necessary precautions for the following days.

The State would be liable along with the political party in question who had called for the Bandh. The said political party was not arrayed as a respondent; however, that would not make much difference. The State under any circumstances would be liable to pay the compensation amount,” stated the court.

The Court affirmed the single judge’s invocation of the concepts of strict liability and vicarious liability, emphasizing the State’s responsibility to compensate under any circumstances.

Dismissing the appeal for lack of supporting materials, the court directed the State to compensate Krishnaswamy within six weeks.

Case Title: State of Tamil Nadu v S Krishnaswamy

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