A recent Delhi court order has redefined and explicated the duties a power distribution company is obligated to perform besides supplying electricity and collecting dues. It has asked the North Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) to pay Rs 10 lakh to the family of a man who died two years ago after coming in contact with a high-tension wire hanging loose in Shastri Nagar area.
Additional District Judge (ADJ) Kamini Lau held that a distribution company (discom) was duty-bound to guarantee public safety.
Due degree of care,which an undertaking is required to exercise,is not confined to the period of supply,but extends to ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to prevent any kind of mischief,pilferage,theft or accident, the judge said.
The ADJ said the discoms failure to ensure public safety was one of the prime reasons that led to the death of 40-year-old Laxmi Narain.
Narain,survived by his wife Daya Rani and four children,died on June 28,2007,as he touched a live wire hanging loose after an NDPL official had disconnected the power supply of a shop in the area. Narain earned his living by driving a tempo and had visited Shastri Nagar to deliver goods to shops.
In reply to Daya Ranis petition,alleging gross negligence on part of the NDPL,the discom contended that it could not be held responsible for the death that was caused due to the unlawful acts (illegally drawing power) of a few residents of the area.
Elucidating the various principles and precedents of the Law of Torts that creates and provides remedies for various civil wrongs,the court said the NDPL had failed to meet the standards of foreseeability and breached the duty of reasonable care and caution in the particular case.
It noted that a naked hanging wire on a motorable road in front of the premises of a registered consumer could not have gone unnoticed and hence,leaving the wire unattended after disconnecting the power supply not only proved NDPL officials negligence but also violated the Indian Electricity Rules-1956.
The tragedy could have been possibly averted had the NDPL being a little more vigilant… It is liable for negligence and the plaintiff will be entitled for compensation, said ADJ Lau.