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HC Asks GNCT, Factory to Pay Indemnity to Fire Victims

The city government has been directed by the Delhi High Court to pay compensation to the families of those who were killed and injured in a fire in a factory in a residential building in January 2011.

The court also directed M/s Amazing Creation Garment Export Factory at Tughlakabad area of South Delhi, where 14 workmen died and five other workmen were injured in the fire on January 20, 2011, to pay the compensation jointly with the government.

Justice Vipin Sanghi accepted the plea of families of eight victims including an injured workman and said "This writ petition for grant of compensation is maintainable against both the respondents (state and private factory) and the petitioners are entitled to compensation for the undeniable right to life of the near relatives of the petitioner nos 1-7 and of petitioner no 8."

The court accepted the argument of petitioners' counsel that NCT of Delhi has miserably failed to discharge their statutory duties by not preventing the factory-owner from running the factory in flagrant violation of all statutory laws relating to fire prevention, building bye laws, labour laws etc which resulted in the deaths and injury of the workmen.

In a judgment recently, the court said, "The factory/unit seems to be operating from 2005 in flagrant violation of all statutory laws, rules and regulations. There is no explanation offered by the respondent 1 (GNCT) as to how an export factory. And using highly inflammable substances was permitted to run in a residential building in a congested area."

"There can be no denying the fact that the respondent 1 owed a duty of care towards public so that no action or inaction on their part causes harm to the citizens."

"Even after the incident, they have not done anything substantial to provide relief to the petitioners, except for sending letters and reminders. It is absolutely clear that the state has been utterly negligent in discharging its statutory obligations and in ensuring that the citizen’s fundamental rights to life was not infringed," the court said.

The court also ordered grant of compensation between Rs 7 lakh to 13 lakh (based on their monthly salary) to the families of seven dead workmen and Rs 6.26 lakhs to the injured person.

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