Madras High Court has ordered to pay compensation to the son of a deceased mother who was shot accidentally in a 'Shoot and Kill' stray dog hunt with the sanction of Eraiyur Panchayat.
A single-judge bench of Justice S.M Subramaniam has ordered the District Collector, Perambalur and the functionaries including the Eraiyur Panchayat President to pay Rs 5 laksh each as compensation to the petitioner son.
The court has also censured the authorities for shooting stray dogs, which is an illegal act in itself.
"It is an unusual incident where the responsible Panchayat President and the Councilors have engaged the 8th respondent for shooting out the stray dogs in the Village. The very operation itself is illegal and further the bullet removed from the mother of the petitioner during postmortem confirms that the death occurred due to the bullet injuries. Under these circumstances, this Court is inclined to consider the case of the petitioner for grant of compensation…"
The court went on to observe that the respondent authorities were insensitive in dealing with the issue at hand and their passive collusion of public authorities are reprehensible.
"…Unfortunately, the official respondents 1 to 4 have not shown an sensitiveness in this matter nor initiated appropriate immediate action, contrarily they have slowed down the actions and thereby colluded in a passive manner. Even the passive collusion of the public authorities can never be tolerated. The illegal operations made by the respondents 5 to 8 were not seriously taken nor immediate actions are initiated", the court added.
The petitioner approached the High Court seeking a writ of mandamus to compensate in 2016 in the aftermath of the 'negligent, lethargic and irresponsible act' of Panchayat officials who engaged a shooter from the 'Narikuravar' community to shoot out stray dogs wandering in the streets. In 2015, when the mother of the petitioner was doing household works outside her home, the shooter allegedly shot the petitioner on her foot 'without any aim or without any concern'.
Though she was taken to hospital, the petitioner alleges that she was only treated for her wound. Days later, his mother developed respiratory problems and succumbed to death. According to the post mortem report, the death occurred due to the remaining poisonous bullet from the country gun generally used by 'Narikuravars' that was still inside her foot.
The case was altered from Section 174 Cr.P.C. to Section 304(ii) of IPC r/w. 25(1)(a) of Indian Arms Act. The weapon was seized and sent for Ballistic examination. The respondents were granted anticipatory bail from High Court. According to the petitioner, no progress was made in the criminal case and the writ petition was filed before the High Court.
Perusing the status report filed by the Investigating officer and the counter affidavit filed by Block Development Officer, the court noted that the criminal case must go on expeditiously.
"As far as the writ petition is concerned, the petitioner was able to establish a prima facie case and the death of the mother of the petitioner occurred due to the illegal operation conducted by the respondents 5 to 8 by shooting the stray dogs in that Village. Shooting the stray dogs itself is an illegal act. The respondents 5 to 7 engaged the 8 th respondent and thereby committed the act of illegality and an offence. The prosecution has been initiated and it is for them to defend their case before the Competent Court of law. However, the petitioner is entitled for compensation as the 5 th respondent is the President and the respondents 6 and 7 were the Councilors", the court observed about the liability of the respondents.
Before parting, the court added that the amount of compensation must be shared between the legal heirs of the deceased mother equally. The compensation payable must be settled by the respondent authorities in eight weeks. In this regard, the petitioner was also directed to furnish legal heir certificate and the particulars of the legal heirs to the first respondent District Collector within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of order copy.
Case Title: G. Babu v. the District Collector & Others
Case No: W.P.No.14420 of 2016
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 16