Rashid Paul

HC asks Army to pay compensation to laborer incapacitated in bomb blast while working for it

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Dismisses GoI’s, Army’s appeal against earlier court order in this regard

Srinagar: A division bench of J&K High Court today dismissed an appeal by the Government of India (GoI) and the Officer Commanding 15 Corps at Srinagar against a single bench order that had awarded compensation in favor of a Kashmiri laborer incapacitated in a 2002 bomb blast while working for the Army.

The laborer Mohammad Ashraf Rather of Pampore (Pulwama district) worked as laborer after having been “hired” by the Officer Commanding, 15 Corps.

While on ‘duty’ he was seriously injured in a bomb blast at Badami Bagh Cantonment on May 02, 2002. He sustained multiple injuries which resulted in amputation of both of his arms.

Thereafter, Rather approached the concerned Army officers for payment of compensation which was denied, compelling him to file a writ petition before the High Court.

He prayed for a direction to the GoI and the Officer Commanding 15 Corps at Srinagar to pay him Rs 57,80,000 as compensation on account of the disability suffered by him while doing the hired work for the duo.

He had further sought a direction to the respondents to arrange for the artificial arms and plastic surgery of his mouth and face.

The single judge bench upon hearing G N Shaheen, counsel for the petitioner, directed the GoI and the Officer Commanding 15 Corps to pay an amount of Rs 12.00 lakhs to the incapacitated laborer along with interest @ 6% per annum from the date of filing of the writ petition.

While taking Rs 48,000 as loss of income per annum i.e. Rs. 4,000 per month, the judge held that the petitioner is deprived of the total future loss of income.

Aggrieved of the judgment, the authorities challenged the order saying there was no employer employee relationship existing between them and the laborer.

While hearing the parties, the division bench comprising Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Vinod Chatterji Koul held that the single bench judgment did not appear to be deviating from the settled position of law.

“We feel that the lowest possible income i.e. Rs. 4000 per month has been taken into consideration while dealing with the future loss of the respondent/petitioner. Therefore, no interference in the matter is called for,” the judges said.

They said the appeal by the GoI and the Army is “without any merit” and dismissed it accordingly.

The amputated laborer shall be entitled to the amount already directed by the Writ Court, they directed.

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