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Prosthetic limbs for electrocuted boy

Award of compensation in writ jurisdiction for violation of human rights is a developing jurisprudence. However, the quantum of compensation so awarded has been in limited parameters. But, in a recent decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court dated July 2, 2013, in Raman v. State of Haryana and Others, reported as 2013 (3) PLR 502, it knew no bounds. Dispelling the argument of contributory negligence and following the doctrine of strict liability, the High Court awarded exemplary relief of ` 60 lakhs besides providing all expenses incurred in securing robotic limbs lifelong for a four year old child who lost three limbs in an electrocution accident upon contact with high transmission electricity lines. Assisting the Court as an amicus curiae, Anil Malhotra, had contended that the Supreme Court in Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, 1993 (2)

SCC 746 and in Dr. Mehmood Nayyar Azam v. State of Chhatisgarh, JT 2012 (7) SC 178, had enunciated that the Supreme Court and the High Courts being the protectors of civil liberties of citizens, have not only the power and jurisdiction but also an obligation to grant relief in exercise of their extra ordinary jurisdiction under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution. Award of compensation in writ jurisdiction for contravention of human rights and fundamental freedoms more so under Article 21 dealing with life and personal liberty can be thus innovated to repair damage and provide monetary aid, not withstanding the rights of the citizen to enforce conventional civil or criminal proceedings for relief.

The judgment assumed finality with the Supreme Court decision dated December 17, 2014, in Raman v. Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd., reported as 2015(1) Recent Apex Judgments 43, wherein it was directed that the directions of the High Court shall be complied with and its report shall be submitted before the learned Single Judge. The judgment is a landmark precedent in terms of the quantum of compensation awarded in writ jurisdiction but is no solace for the child now eight years old who uses his solitary limb i.e. his right leg to perform all his daily functions.

The Panipat boy who suffered amputation of both his arms and left leg after he came in contact with a naked 11 KV transmission line passing over the roof of his house in November 2011, has become used to getting help from others – except for the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (UHBVNL). He was only 4 years old when this accident happened; now he is 8 years old and has been waiting for the last three years for UHBVNL to comply with the High Court order and to provide him prosthetic limbs.
Now, on April 25, 2016, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, on an application moved by amicus curiae advocate Anil Malhotra seeking compliance with court orders, has directed UHBVNL to issue a short-term tender at the earliest keeping in view Raman’s present age and requirement of Myo electric prosthesis (prosthetic limbs). Raman is a resident of Sanoli Khurd village in Panipat district.

Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain in his recent judgment remarked, “The court has also felt that the technology will keep on changing with the passage of time including the stem cells therapy and there may be a possibility that other companies, who are in the process of developing such type of limbs, may come out with better technology in future.”

Therefore, the court said that UHBVNL shall resort to a short-term tender keeping in view Raman’s present age and requirement with comprehensive maintenance which shall be taken from the firm providing limbs. The court said that UHBVNL should issue a fresh tender for the change of limbs with Raman’s advancement of age, as required from time to time, with the prior permission of the court.
Amicus curiae Malhotra after consultation with super specialised hi-technology rehabilitation service centres had informed the court that Raman requires bilateral shoulder dis-articulation prosthesis and the knee prosthesis from time to time up to the age of 65 years, and the total expenses for both would be ` 2.65 crore. He also told the court that this medical facility is not available in the premier medical institute of the region, PGIMER in Chandigarh.

It was on July 2, 2013, that Justice Rajiv Narain Raina had directed the Haryana government to immediately deposit a compensation of ` 30 lakh in Raman’s joint account with his father as a long-term fixed deposit so as to earn him on interest of ` 20,000 per month. Also, in order to secure the minor boy’s financial and monetary future, Justice Raina had directed UHBVNL to deposit ` 30 lakh more in a nationalised bank so that the amount would be made available to Raman with interest on reaching the age of 21 years. At the same time, the court had ordered UHBVNL’s engineer-in-chief to immediately tie up with the Director General of Health Services, Haryana, to consider the case for immediate medical treatment of Raman to make him mobile through artificial limbs.

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