`What is price of human life in this city`, HC asks; takes note of 2 kids death

“What is the price of a human life in this city,” an anguished Bombay High Court asked on Thursday while taking suo motu (on its own) cognizance of an incident where two children died after falling into an open water tank in a public garden in the metropolis.

The two minors, aged four and five years, were reported missing and found dead on April 1. Their bodies were discovered in a water tank in civic corporation-run Maharshi Karve Garden at suburban Wadala, where the kids had gone to play on Sunday (March 31). The tank did not have a proper cover or lid.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata took suo motu cognizance of the tragic incident and initiated a public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue. It also issued a notice to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and directed for the PIL to be placed before the appropriate bench.

The bench said it was inconceivable that a municipal corporation could have no responsibility or liability when such incidents occur. The court referred to news articles which said that the BMC was facing budgetary constraints.

“What is the price of a human life in this city? Are the so called “budgetary constraints” of the BMC an answer for a failure to provide minimal safety precaution during civic works?” HC said.

The bench noted the matter would also concern issues regarding civic responsibility, questions of negligence and financial responsibility, not just for individual officers of the BMC but also for the corporation as a body.

The court noted the Railways has a policy for providing compensation to victims but there is no such scheme for municipal corporations. “It seems to us inconceivable that a Municipal Corporation could have no responsibility or liability at all if it is demonstrated that an accident or a death has been caused due to negligence on the part of the Corporation concerned,” the HC observed.

The bench appointed senior advocates Sharan Jagtiani and Mayur Khandeparkar to assist the court on the issue. 

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