The Delhi high court has awarded a ‘barely alive’ crippled man a compensation of rs. 20 lakhs

By: Aparajita Patel

The Delhi High Court ruled on Wednesday that though Bharat is alive, he is barely alive, after awarding a 28-year-old crippled man a compensation of 20 lakh after he fell in 2014 while performing his profession as an electrician.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani’s 78-page decision found a construction business and BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) jointly and severally accountable for his injuries.

The court further ordered that the victim’s 20 lakh settlement be used to open a shop in his native village in Uttar Pradesh in his name.

“…the store would be run for and in Bharat’s name by the petitioner (Bharat’s father) or any other responsible member of Bharat’s immediate family, with the provision that Bharat would be involved in running the store to the extent his health and physical condition allows. It is made clear that all proceeds from the business will go toward Bharat’s medical and living needs, as well as his welfare and well-being,” the statement continued.

Bharat, 21, was climbing an electricity pole to solve a power fluctuation at a farmhouse in Bijwasan, New Delhi, on April 25, 2014, when the pole snapped and fell, knocking him down.

Aside from Bharat’s “dismal” physical condition, the Court noted that he had turned into a “psychological wreck” after breaking down multiple times during his interactions with the Court. His medical records stated that he was completely disabled and unable to move his lower limbs.

According to the Court, the case was fully covered by the res ipsa loquitur principle, which required no detailed evidence, much alone a trial, to demonstrate ex-facie negligence on the side of BRPL and Bryn.

To support its argument, the Court cited the Supreme Court’s decision in Shyam Sundar & Ors. v. State of Rajasthan, in which the maxim res ipsa loquitur was explained (that which speaks for itself). As a result, even if Bryn and/or BRPL had not been negligent in taking reasonable efforts to avoid it, the principle would apply.

Without entering into the debate over who was to blame, the Court used the “strict liability” principle to hold both Bryn and BRPL jointly and severally accountable to pay Bharat for putting him in his current situation.

While the court-ordered BRPL and Bryn to pay a total of 20 lakh in compensation, it also imposed non-monetary reliefs in Bharat’s favour. These are some of them:

  1. Pension for people with disabilities
  2. Free bus and train passes for life
  3. Physiotherapy and occupational therapy are provided free of charge for as long as they are deemed required by the treating physicians.
  4. All such forms of relief, support, help, and aid that he is entitled to under government programmes, rules, and notices that may be applicable to him from time to time in line with his entitlements.

Bharat, according to the Court, suffered in his everyday life since he was unable to complete any of his daily activities on his own and needed physical assistance from the time, he awoke to the time he went to bed. As a result of the incident, he was unable to stand, walk, or even sit in a chair without assistance. Even while seated, he needed continual care because he was not stable and could fall over. BRPL had objected to the petition, claiming that it was unworkable and that the victim was not working under it. Bryn, on the other side, claimed that the accident occurred on BRPL’s property and during Bharat’s work for and on behalf of the company. As a result, it was maintained that Bryn was not accountable for Bharat’s injuries.