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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sursagar Lake - 38 persons died due to capsized of boat in lake - claims against corporation - contractor and insurance company - first denied they are not consumer - next denied there is no service deficiency - corporation denied it's liability - Insurance company limited it's liability only for one lakh per head - consumer court allowed the claim - NCDRC confirmed the same - Apex court held that It is not in dispute that the boat was carrying 38 passengers as against the capacity of 22 passengers. Neither any life guards were deployed nor any life saving jackets were provided to the passengers. The finding of negligence concurrently recorded by the State Commission and the NCDRC does not call for any interference. Primary liability of the contractor stands established. The victims were consumers and the contractor was service provider. Deficiency of service stood established. The stand of the Insurance Company based on second policy dated 1st December, 1992 limiting its liability is untenable. Having issued policy dated 1st November, 1992 covering loss to the extent of Rs.20 lakhs per accident with Rs.80 lakhs as maximum in one year, the Insurance Company could not avoid its responsibility, as rightly held concurrently by the State Commission and the NCRDC. Risk was required to be statutorily covered under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. The Insurance Company was bound by the The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Protection of Policyholders’ Interest) Regulation, 2002 framed under the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 and the law laid down in M.J.K. Corporation, Pushpalaya Printers and Asha Goel (supra), rightly referred to by the NCDRC in its order. We do not find any ground to exonerate the Corporation. Admittedly, the activity in question was covered by the statutory duty of the Corporation under Sections 62, 63 and 66 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949. Mere appointment of a contractor or employee did not absolve the Corporation of its liability to supervise the boating activities particularly when there are express stipulations in the contract entered into with the contractor. The Corporation was not only discharging its statutory duties but also was acting as service provider to the passengers through its agent. The Corporation had a duty of care, when activity of plying boat is inherently dangerous and there is clear forseeability of such occurrence unless precautions are taken like providing life saving jackets. Accordingly, we do not find any merit in the appeals filed by the contractor, the Corporation and the Insurance Company against the award of compensation by the State Commission as affirmed/modified by the NCDRC.= CIVIL APPEAL NO.3594-3611 of 2010 VADODARA MUNICIPAL CORPORATION ….. APPELLANT VERSUS PURSHOTTAM V. MURJANI AND ORS. ..... RESPONDENTS = 2014 - Sept. Month - http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41898

  Sursagar Lake - 38 persons died due to capsized of boat in lake - claims against corporation - contractor and insurance company - first denied they are not consumer - next denied there is no service deficiency - corporation denied it's liability - Insurance company limited it's liability only for one lakh per head - consumer court allowed the claim - NCDRC  confirmed the same - Apex court held that   It  is not in dispute that the boat was  carrying  38  passengers  as  against  the
capacity of 22 passengers.  Neither any life guards were  deployed  nor  any life saving jackets  were  provided  to  the  passengers.   The  finding  of negligence concurrently recorded by the State Commission and the NCDRC  does not call for any interference.  Primary liability of the  contractor  stands established.  The victims were consumers  and  the  contractor  was  service
provider.  Deficiency of  service  stood  established.   The  stand  of  the Insurance Company based on second policy dated 1st December, 1992 limiting its liability is untenable. Having issued policy
dated 1st November, 1992 covering loss to the  extent  of  Rs.20  lakhs  per accident with Rs.80 lakhs as maximum in  one  year,  the  Insurance  Company could not avoid its responsibility, as  rightly  held  concurrently  by  the State Commission and  the  NCRDC.   Risk  was  required  to  be  statutorily covered under the Public  Liability  Insurance  Act,  1991.   The  Insurance
Company was bound by the The Insurance Regulatory and Development  Authority (Protection of Policyholders’ Interest) Regulation, 2002  framed  under  the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 and  the  law  laid down in M.J.K. Corporation,  Pushpalaya  Printers  and  Asha  Goel  (supra), rightly referred to by the NCDRC in its order. We do not find any ground to exonerate the  Corporation.   Admittedly, the  activity  in  question  was  covered  by  the  statutory  duty  of  the Corporation under Sections 62, 63 and 66 of the Bombay Provincial  Municipal Corporation Act, 1949.   Mere appointment of a contractor  or  employee  did
not absolve the Corporation  of  its  liability  to  supervise  the  boating activities particularly when there are express stipulations in the  contract entered into with the contractor.  The Corporation was not only  discharging its statutory duties  but  also  was  acting  as  service  provider  to  the
passengers through its agent.  The Corporation had  a  duty  of  care,  when activity  of  plying  boat  is  inherently  dangerous  and  there  is  clear forseeability  of  such  occurrence  unless  precautions  are   taken   like providing life saving jackets. Accordingly, we do not find any merit in  the  appeals  filed  by  the contractor, the Corporation and the Insurance Company against the  award  of compensation by the State Commission  as  affirmed/modified  by  the  NCDRC.=

Sursagar Lake -
contract for plying the boats was  given  to  Ripple Aqua Sports vide licence agreement-
Contractor took insurance policy dated  1st  November,  1992.   On  11th
August, 1993, against  the  capacity  of  20  persons,  38  passengers  were
allowed to ride in the boat which capsized resulting  in  the  death  of  22
passengers.
 The  victims  claimed  that  the
insurance policy covered  the  claim  to  the  extent  of  Rs.20  lakhs  per
passenger with maximum of  Rs.80  lakh  in  one  year.

The Insurance Company contested the case and  submitted  that  as  per
the insurance policy given, the liability  was  limited  to  Rs.1  lakh  per
person.  Stand of the Corporation was that complainants were  not  consumers
and had remedy under the Indian  Vessels  Act,  1917.   The  Contractor  was
independent licensee without any control of the Corporation.  The  stand  of
the Contractor was that  it  was  not  liable  as  the  claimants  were  not
consumers and the liability was of the Corporation.  The  Insurance  Company
also opposed the claim and also submitted that its liability did not  exceed
Rs.20 lakhs.
The State Commission allowed the claims.  It held that even  a  public
authority exercising statutory power  was  not  exempt  from  liability  for
negligent  actions.   When  the  Corporation  exercised  control  over   the
Contractor, it  was  vicariously  responsible  for  the  negligence  of  the
Contractor.
On due consideration, we do not find any ground to interfere.   It  is
not in dispute that the boat was  carrying  38  passengers  as  against  the
capacity of 22 passengers.  Neither any life guards were  deployed  nor  any
life saving jackets  were  provided  to  the  passengers.   The  finding  of
negligence concurrently recorded by the State Commission and the NCDRC  does
not call for any interference.  Primary liability of the  contractor  stands
established.  The victims were consumers  and  the  contractor  was  service
provider.  Deficiency of  service  stood  established.   The  stand  of  the
Insurance Company based on second policy dated 1st December, 1992
limiting its liability is untenable. Having issued policy
dated 1st November, 1992 covering loss to the  extent  of  Rs.20  lakhs  per
accident with Rs.80 lakhs as maximum in  one  year,  the  Insurance  Company
could not avoid its responsibility, as  rightly  held  concurrently  by  the
State Commission and  the  NCRDC.   Risk  was  required  to  be  statutorily
covered under the Public  Liability  Insurance  Act,  1991.   The  Insurance
Company was bound by the The Insurance Regulatory and Development  Authority
(Protection of Policyholders’ Interest) Regulation, 2002  framed  under  the
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 and  the  law  laid
down in M.J.K. Corporation,  Pushpalaya  Printers  and  Asha  Goel  (supra),
rightly referred to by the NCDRC in its order.
17.   We do not find any ground to exonerate the  Corporation.   Admittedly,
the  activity  in  question  was  covered  by  the  statutory  duty  of  the
Corporation under Sections 62, 63 and 66 of the Bombay Provincial  Municipal
Corporation Act, 1949.   Mere appointment of a contractor  or  employee  did
not absolve the Corporation  of  its  liability  to  supervise  the  boating
activities particularly when there are express stipulations in the  contract
entered into with the contractor.  The Corporation was not only  discharging
its statutory duties  but  also  was  acting  as  service  provider  to  the
passengers through its agent.  The Corporation had  a  duty  of  care,  when
activity  of  plying  boat  is  inherently  dangerous  and  there  is  clear
forseeability  of  such  occurrence  unless  precautions  are   taken   like
providing life saving jackets.
Accordingly, we do not find any merit in  the  appeals  filed  by  the
contractor, the Corporation and the Insurance Company against the  award  of
compensation by the State Commission  as  affirmed/modified  by  the  NCDRC.
The appeals are accordingly dismissed.  

2014 - Sept. Month - http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41898

                                                               REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.3594-3611 of 2010


VADODARA MUNICIPAL CORPORATION      ….. APPELLANT

VERSUS

PURSHOTTAM V. MURJANI AND ORS.    ..... RESPONDENTS


                                    With

Civil Appeal No.3630 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3631 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3647 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3632 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3633 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3634 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3635 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3636 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3638 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3646 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3639 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3640 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3641 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3642 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3643 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3644 of 2010,
Civil Appeal No.3645 of 2010, Civil Appeal No.3648 of 2010 and Civil Appeal
No.3612-3629 of 2010.


                               J U D G M E N T

ADARSH KUMAR GOEL, J.
1.    These  appeals  have  been  preferred  against  the  Judgment  of  the
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (for  short  “NCDRC”)  dated
2nd November, 2006 in F.A.  Nos.464/2002  and  61  to  77  of  2004  by  the
Vadodara Municipal Corporation (for short “the Corporation”),  the  Oriental
Insurance  Company  Ltd.  (for  short  “the  Insurance  Company”)  and   the
proprietor  of  Ripple  Aqua  Sports  (hereinafter  referred  to   as   “the
Contractor”) against the award of compensation for the death of  22  persons
by drowning in Sursagar Lake at Vadodara while riding the boat,  on  account
of negligence in plying the boat.
2.    Sursagar Lake is under the control and management of  the  Corporation
which has been plying boats for joy rides  and  boating  club.   During  the
period in question, the contract for plying the boats was  given  to  Ripple
Aqua Sports vide licence agreement
dated 26th September, 1992 for managing the affairs of the Boating  Club  at
the  Lake  for  purposes  of  entertainment.   The  agreement,  inter  alia,
provided that the facility of boating was to be given  to  the  public.   It
was necessary that the contractor shall  be  taking  insurance  policies  to
cover the risk liability of all persons using the  equipment  of  the  club.
The Corporation had the right to supervise the boating  club.   Accordingly,
the Contractor took insurance policy dated  1st  November,  1992.   On  11th
August, 1993, against  the  capacity  of  20  persons,  38  passengers  were
allowed to ride in the boat which capsized resulting  in  the  death  of  22
passengers.
3.    The victims approached the State Commission
on 30th March, 1994 and around under the provisions of  Consumer  Protection
Act, 1986 claiming compensation alleging deficiency of service on  the  part
of the Contractor  and  the  Corporation.   The  victims  claimed  that  the
insurance policy covered  the  claim  to  the  extent  of  Rs.20  lakhs  per
passenger with maximum of  Rs.80  lakh  in  one  year.    Under  the  Bombay
Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, the Corporation had the duty  to
maintain the safety of  the  passengers  and  in  case  of  negligence,  the
Corporation had the tortuous liability under the law.  The  Corporation  was
also liable for tortious acts of the Contractor.  The passengers  had  taken
tickets for the boat ride but  on  account  of  deficiency  in  service  the
passengers drowned on capsizing of  the  boat  which  was  overloaded.   The
occurrence took place on account of negligence of the contractor as well  as
failure of the Corporation to  exercise  due  care.   No  life  guards  were
provided, no life saving  jackets  were  provided  and  if  suitable  safety
measures would have been taken, the lives of the victims could be saved.
4.    The Insurance Company contested the case and  submitted  that  as  per
the insurance policy given, the liability  was  limited  to  Rs.1  lakh  per
person.  Stand of the Corporation was that complainants were  not  consumers
and had remedy under the Indian  Vessels  Act,  1917.   The  Contractor  was
independent licensee without any control of the Corporation.  The  stand  of
the Contractor was that  it  was  not  liable  as  the  claimants  were  not
consumers and the liability was of the Corporation.  The  Insurance  Company
also opposed the claim and also submitted that its liability did not  exceed
Rs.20 lakhs.
5.    The State Commission allowed the claims.  It held that even  a  public
authority exercising statutory power  was  not  exempt  from  liability  for
negligent  actions.   When  the  Corporation  exercised  control  over   the
Contractor, it  was  vicariously  responsible  for  the  negligence  of  the
Contractor.   Reliance  was  placed  on  Rajasthan  State   Road   Transport
Corporation  vs.  Kailash  Nath  Kothari[1]   holding  the  employer  to  be
responsible vicariously.
6.    As regards liability of the Insurance Company, it was  held  that  its
liability under the policy was Rs.20 lakhs for one incident which meant  one
death in view of Motor Owner’s  Insurance  Co.  Ltd.  vs.  Jadavji  Keshavji
Modi[2].   The policy was covered by Public Liability Insurance  Act,  1991.
It was also held that Contractor could  not  escape  its  liability  in  the
given circumstances when  deficiency  in  service  was  patent  in  view  of
violation of Indian Vessels Act, 1917.  Negligence  in  operating  the  boat
amounted to deficiency in service as held in Ravneet  Singh  Bagga  vs.  KLM
Royal Dutch Airlines & Anr.[3]
7.    Accordingly, the  State  Commission  held  the  Aqua  Sports  and  the
Corporation to  be  jointly  and  severely  liable.   The  State  Commission
awarded total compensation of Rs.30,18,900/- with interest @ 10%  per  annum
from  the  date  of  the  incident  till  payment.   The  State   Commission
determined  the  quantum  of  compensation  ranging  from   Rs.50,000/-   to
Rs.10,76,000/- in respect of claims for death of 22 passengers.
8.    The decision of the State Commission has  been  upheld  by  the  NCDRC
with the enhancement in  quantum  of  compensation  in  some  of  the  cases
keeping in mind principles for  determining  compensation  under  the  Motor
Vehicles Act, 1988.
9.    Affirming the finding of the State Commission, the NCDRC held:-
“(i)  Contractor had the primary liability to compensate the victims  as  it
was responsible for the catastrophe in question;


(ii)  The Corporation had vicarious liability for  the  negligence.   Plying
boat was inherently dangerous activity.  Even for its  statutory  functions,
liability for negligence was attracted on the principle laid down in  Rajkot
Municipal  vs.  Manjuben  Jayantilal  Nakum,  (1997)  9   SCC   552.     The
Corporation failed to perform its duty of supervision undertaken  under  the
agreement with the Contractor;


(iii) The Insurance Company was liable upto
Rs.20 lakhs per accident (per death) subject
to maximum of Rs.80 lakhs as per policy.  Variations in policy could not  be
allowed  in  view  of  United  India  Insurance  Company  Ltd.  vs.   M.J.K.
Corporation, (1997) 7 SCC 481 and United India Insurance  Company  Ltd.  vs.
Pushpalaya Printers, (2004) 3 SCC 694  and  Life  Insurance  Corporation  of
India and ors. vs. Smt. Asha Goel and anr.,
(2001) 2 SCC 160.


(iv)  Insurance Company was bound to act as  per  Insurance  Regulatory  and
Development Authority Acts of 1999 and 2002  regulations  framed  thereunder
and        also         Public         Liability         Act,         1991.”









10.   Concluding part of the judgment of the NCDRC is as follows:-
“In the result, it is held that:


 the Ripple Aqua Sports and the Vadodara Municipal Corporation  are  jointly
and severally  liable  to  pay  the  compensation  to  the  Complainants  as
awarded;


the Vadodara Municipal  Corporation  is  directed  to  pay  the  balance  of
compensation (that is, after deducting the amount paid) to the  Complainants
in each case within a period of eight weeks from the date of the Order.   It
would be open to the Corporation to recover the same from  the  Ripple  Aqua
Sports;


the Insurance Company is liable  to  pay  Rs.20  lakhs  for  each  accident,
namely, each death, but in aggregate the sum  is  limited  to  Rs.80  lakhs.
Hence, the Insurance Company shall reimburse, in all, Rs. 80  lakhs  to  the
Vadodara Municipal Corporation; and,


the rest of the order passed by the State Commission  directing  payment  of
interest at the rate of 10% p.a. from the date of the  incident,  i.e.  from
11.8.1993 till the date of payment of compensation is confirmed.


      With these modifications the First Appeal Nos.464 of  2002  and  First
Appeal Nos.464 of 2002 and First Appeal Nos.61 to 77 of 2004  filed  by  the
Vadodara Municipal Corporation are  disposed  of  accordingly.   Considering
the facts, there shall be no order as to costs.


First Appeal Nos. 197 of 2003 and First Appeal Nos.210 to 226 of 2003  filed
by the Ripple Aqua Sports are disposed of accordingly.  There  shall  be  no
order as to costs.


Cross-Appeals for enhancement:


The Appeals filed by the Complainants in First Appeal Nos.488 of  2002;  289
of 2004; 290 of 2004; 292  of  2004;  295  of  2004  and  296  of  2004  are
dismissed.  There shall be no order as to costs.


The First Appeal Nos.288 of 2004; 291 of 2004; 294 of  2004;  297  of  2004;
299 of 2004; 293 of 2004; 298  of  2004,  and  300  of  2004  filed  by  the
complaints are partly allowed.  The order passed by the State Commission  is
modified as under:-


It is held that the complainants are entitled to have compensation of:-


(i)   Rs.1 lakh in each Appeal Nos.288 of 2004, 291  of  2004;  and  294  of
2004;


(ii)  Rs.1,25,000/- in each Appeal Nos.297 of 2004 and 299 of 2004;


(iii) Rs.1,50,000/- in each Appeal Nos.293 of 2004; 298 of 2004; and 300  of
2004.”


11.   We have heard learned counsel for the parties.
12.   Learned counsel for the Corporation  submitted  that  the  Corporation
was not a service provider and had no privy contract with the  victims.   It
was only facilitating the plying of boating and the  liability  was  of  the
contractor.  As per  the  licence  agreement  dated  26th  September,  1992,
control and responsibility for the boating activities was completely of  the
contractor.  The Corporation had no direct control over  the  contractor  or
its employees.
13.    Learned  counsel  for  the  Insurance  Company  submitted  that   its
liability was limited to Rs.1 lakh as per policy  issued  on  1st  December,
1992 and the policy dated  1st  November,  1992  could  not  be  taken  into
account.
14.   Learned  counsel  for  the  Contractor,  submitted  that  it  was  not
responsible for the accident and liability was of the  Manager  individually
or of the Corporation for whom the boat was being plied.
15.   Learned counsel for the victims supported the
impugned order.
16.   On due consideration, we do not find any ground to interfere.   It  is
not in dispute that the boat was  carrying  38  passengers  as  against  the
capacity of 22 passengers.  Neither any life guards were  deployed  nor  any
life saving jackets  were  provided  to  the  passengers.   The  finding  of
negligence concurrently recorded by the State Commission and the NCDRC  does
not call for any interference.  Primary liability of the  contractor  stands
established.  The victims were consumers  and  the  contractor  was  service
provider.  Deficiency of  service  stood  established.   The  stand  of  the
Insurance Company based on second policy dated 1st December, 1992
limiting its liability is untenable. Having issued policy
dated 1st November, 1992 covering loss to the  extent  of  Rs.20  lakhs  per
accident with Rs.80 lakhs as maximum in  one  year,  the  Insurance  Company
could not avoid its responsibility, as  rightly  held  concurrently  by  the
State Commission and  the  NCRDC.   Risk  was  required  to  be  statutorily
covered under the Public  Liability  Insurance  Act,  1991.   The  Insurance
Company was bound by the The Insurance Regulatory and Development  Authority
(Protection of Policyholders’ Interest) Regulation, 2002  framed  under  the
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 and  the  law  laid
down in M.J.K. Corporation,  Pushpalaya  Printers  and  Asha  Goel  (supra),
rightly referred to by the NCDRC in its order.
17.   We do not find any ground to exonerate the  Corporation.   Admittedly,
the  activity  in  question  was  covered  by  the  statutory  duty  of  the
Corporation under Sections 62, 63 and 66 of the Bombay Provincial  Municipal
Corporation Act, 1949.   Mere appointment of a contractor  or  employee  did
not absolve the Corporation  of  its  liability  to  supervise  the  boating
activities particularly when there are express stipulations in the  contract
entered into with the contractor.  The Corporation was not only  discharging
its statutory duties  but  also  was  acting  as  service  provider  to  the
passengers through its agent.  The Corporation had  a  duty  of  care,  when
activity  of  plying  boat  is  inherently  dangerous  and  there  is  clear
forseeability  of  such  occurrence  unless  precautions  are   taken   like
providing life saving jackets.
18.    In  Municipal  Corporation  of  Delhi  vs.  Uphaar  Tragedy   Victims
Association and Ors.[4], concept of negligence or breach  of  duty  to  take
care in Tort law as against breach of duty in exercising statutory  duty  in
public law was  gone  into  with  reference  to  developments  in  different
jurisdictions.  It was observed that archaic  principle  of  State  immunity
which was  based  on  assumption  of  State  being  efficient,  sincere  and
dignified was giving way to protection of  liberty,  equality  and  rule  of
law.   Applying  the  test  of   proximity   of   relationship,   reasonable
forseeability and justness of claim, liability of a public  authority  could
be fixed.  After noticing development of law world over, it was observed:-

“109. Need for a comprehensive legislation dealing with  tortious  liability
of the State and its instrumentalities has been highlighted  by  this  Court
and the academic world on various occasions and it  is  high  time  that  we
develop a sophisticated jurisprudence of public law liability. Due  to  lack
of legislation, the  courts  dealing  with  the  cases  of  tortious  claims
against the State and its officials are  not  following  a  uniform  pattern
while deciding  those  claims,  and  this  at  times  leads  to  undesirable
consequences and arbitrary fixation of compensation amount.


110. The Government of  India  on  the  recommendations  of  the  First  Law
Commission introduced two Bills on the government liability in torts in  the
years 1965-1967 in the Lok Sabha but those  Bills  lapsed.  In  Kasturi  Lal
case, AIR  1965  SC  1039,  this  Court  has  highlighted  the  need  for  a
comprehensive legislation which was reiterated  by  this  Court  in  various
subsequent decisions as well.


111.   Public authorities are now made liable in damages  in  UK  under  the
Human Rights Act, 1998. Section 6 of the Human  Rights  Act,  1998  makes  a
public authority liable for damages if it is found to have committed  breach
of human rights. The Court of Appeal in England in Anufrijeva  v.  Southwark
London Borough Council, 2004 QB 1124 : (2004) 2 WLR 603 : (2004)  1  All  ER
833 (CA),  attempted  to  answer  certain  important  questions  as  to  how
damages should be awarded for breach of human rights and how should  damages
be assessed. Further, such claims are also dealt  by  Ombudsmen  created  by
various  statutes:  they  are  independent  and  impartial  officials,   who
investigate complaints  of  the  citizens  in  cases  of  maladministration.
Experience shows  that  majority  of  the  Ombudsmen’s  recommendations  are
complied with in practice, though they are not enforceable  in  courts.  The
European Court  of  Justice  has  developed  a  sophisticated  jurisprudence
concerning liability in damages regarding liability  of  public  bodies  for
the loss caused by administrative acts.


112. We have highlighted  all  these  facts  only  to  indicate  that  rapid
changes are taking place all over the world to  uphold  the  rights  of  the
citizens against the wrong committed  by  statutory  authorities  and  local
bodies. Despite the concern shown by this Court, it is unfortunate  that  no
legislation has been enacted to deal  with  such  situations.  We  hope  and
trust that utmost attention would be given by the legislature  for  bringing
in appropriate legislation to deal with claims in public law  for  violation
of fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens, at the hands of the  State
and its officials.”


19.   In view of above discussion, while  upholding  the  liability  of  the
Corporation, we reiterate that not only Constitutional Courts  have  to,  in
suitable cases, uphold claims arising out of loss  of  life  or  liberty  on
account of violation of statutory duties of public authorities,  in  private
law remedies, just and fair claims of citizens against  public  bodies  have
to be upheld and compensation awarded in Tort.  Where activity of  a  public
body is hazardous, highest degree of care is expected  and  breach  of  such
duty is actionable.  This obligation is also referable to  Article  21.   We
reiterate the need for a comprehensive  legislation  dealing  with  tortious
liability  of  the  State  and  its  instrumentalities  in  such  cases  for
certainty on the subject.  We request the Law Commission to  look  into  the
matter and take such steps as may be found necessary.
20.   Accordingly, we do not find any merit in  the  appeals  filed  by  the
contractor, the Corporation and the Insurance Company against the  award  of
compensation by the State Commission  as  affirmed/modified  by  the  NCDRC.
The appeals are accordingly dismissed.  There will, however, be no order  as
to costs.  A copy of this order be  forwarded  to  the  Law  Commission  for
further necessary action.

                                                            ….…………………………….J.
                                                             V. GOPALA GOWDA

                                                           ….……………………………..J.
NEW DELHI                         ADARSH KUMAR GOEL
September 10, 2014
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[1]    (1997) 7 SCC 481
[2]    (1981) 4 SCC 660
[3]    (2000) 1 SCC 66
[4]    (2011) 14 SCC 481

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