New Delhi, May 20: The Delhi High Court has ordered the Delhi Police to pay Rs 75 lakh to a 25-year-old man who met with an accident in 2015 after his vehicle hit unmanned barricades installed on a dark stretch. The accident had resulted in serious brain injuries, leaving the man in a vegetative state.
A bench of Justice Navin Chawla issued the compensation order on the ground the police were negligent and in breach of duty because the barricades were unmanned, not in fluorescent colour and were without blinkers, The Print reported. There was also a violation of the Delhi Police’s standard order that requires removal of barricades not in use, the court said.
“While the respondents (Delhi Police) claim and it is accepted that placing of the barricades at various places in the city is for public good, at the same time, it casts a duty on the respondent to ensure they do not become a cause for accidents,” reads Justice Chawla’s order, which came on a petition filed by Dheeraj Kumar. The order was pronounced on 18 May.
Delhi Police’s argument that the petitioner was not wearing a helmet because it was not found at the accident site was rejected. The court even refused to accept the police version of Dheeraj driving rash, because a criminal case was registered against him immediately after the accident.
Dheeraj’s counsel Pankaj Vivek told ThePrint: “The police had registered a case to hide their own negligence. The court saw the photographs of the accident site and found merit in our submissions that the barricades were unmanned.”
According to Vivek, the accident took place on 6 December 2015 when the petitioner was on his way back home after attending a wedding function in Paschim Vihar, West Delhi. His parents received a call at 5 am from the police and were told about the accident.
Dheeraj was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital where his skull was operated upon to remove the haematoma and to relieve the intracranial pressure. He was unconscious when he was discharged a month later, and continues to be in the same state.
The petitioner claimed the barricades were chained and placed at a spot that was not well lit. As they were not visible, Dheeraj’s vehicle got entangled in the chains attached to the barricades and he lost control. Though the police disputed the submission of barricades being non-illuminated, it admitted they were not manned.
“There was no police officer posted with the barricades. Photographs filed by the petitioners further show that the area where the barricade had been placed was not properly illuminated and, in any case, the same did not have proper blinkers or other warning signs for motorcyclists. Clearly, the chains tying these barricades together could under no circumstances be visible to a motorist from far,” the court said.
The court noted Dheeraj was an engineering student when he met with the accident and was around 21 years old. In view of the facts and law relating to compensation, the court found it “just” to compensate him with Rs 75 lakh.
“The petitioner has suffered the injury, which has been described hereinabove and is stated to be in a vegetative state requiring constant care and further treatment,” the court held.
The money must be deposited with the High Court’s registrar general within four weeks, the court said, failing which the Delhi Police shall have to pay an interest of 9 per cent per annum for the period of delay.
Of the amount, Rs 30 lakh shall be released in the petitioner’s favour while the remaining shall be kept in fixed deposits of nine equal instalments, with each becoming due and payable at the end of the succeeding year, the court said. In case Dheeraj recovers consciousness, the amount in the fixed deposits shall be directly released in his favour on their maturity, it added.