The Bombay High Court passed the concerned judgment in a writ petition filed by a woman challenging the State’s refusal to compensate her for the death of her husband, who was attacked by a wild boar. through the learned bench consisting of Justice G. S. Patel and Justice Gauri Godse in the case of Anuja Arun Redij v. State of Maharashtra (Writ Petition No. 3116 of 2022)
FACTS OF THE CASE:
In February 2019, a wild boar attack resulted in a vehicle accident that claimed the petitioner’s husband’s life. On the day of the accident, the neighbourhood police station filed a FIR and carried out a spot panchnama. A wild boar attacked the victim’s two-wheeler and crashed with it, causing a deadly accident, according to the spot panchnama.
The Regional Forest Officer denied her request for Rs 10 lakh in compensation under a government resolution dated July 11, 2018, on the grounds that information wasn’t provided within 48 hours after the event. She was also informed that the panchnama was not conducted in front of the forest officer within three days.
She went to court after the state minister for forests didn’t reply to her representation.
The petitioner’s senior attorney R. S. Apte stated that there is no disputing the attack and the accident. “The denial of payment was unreasonable. Additionally, as part of the state’s machinery, the police station should have notified the local forest office “Apte said.
Milind, a further government leader More specifically, the State claimed that no compensation could be given because the death was brought on by brain injuries sustained in a car accident, not a wild boar attack.
OBSERVATION OF THE COURT:
“…it is the duty of the concerned officer of the State Government to protect wild animals and not allow them to wander outside the restricted safety zone. Similarly, as a corollary duty, it is also the obligation cast upon the concerned officers to protect the citizens from any injuries by the wild animals. Thus, it is a twin obligation of the State Government”, ruled the court
The court took notice of the fact that the State Government had not presented a copy of any government resolution requiring the disclosure of accident information within 48 hours.
“In any case, the chronology of 48 hours is unimportant in light of the Petitioner’s argument. In any case, the State Government will still be obligated to pay compensation “The court stated.
The court also ruled that the neighbourhood police station had a responsibility to report the accident to the closest forest office that was relevant.
The court further said, “…if any wild animal causes injury to any person, this in fact is a failure of the State Government to protect right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
The judge remarked that the panchnama proves the wild boar attack was the only factor contributing to the catastrophe. The State has not denied that a human life was lost in the wild boar attack, hence the court found that the reasons for rejecting the petitioner’s claim were inappropriate.
The court ruled that the Wild life (Protection) Act of 1972 imposes a duty on the State Government to safeguard the lives of citizens, as provided by Article 21 of the Constitution, as well as the rights of wild animals.
The petitioner would still be entitled to compensation even without the 2018 GR because the death was brought on by a breakdown in state apparatus, according to the court.
The state was ordered by the court to pay the petitioner’s compensation in accordance with the 2018 GR plus interest. As the State had adopted a hyper-technical strategy that forced the petitioner to seek the court, the court further granted an additional compensation of Rs. 50,000 for litigation costs.
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Judgement reviewed by – Sudarshana Jha