Bangalore: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ordered issue of a notice to the State government on a PIL petition, which has sought a direction to prosecute “deviant, errant officers, who have failed in exercise of their statutory duties as a result of which open drains and public infrastructure have turned into death traps, resulting in the loss of lives of citizens”.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice Budihal R.B. passed the order on the petition filed by Namma Bengaluru Foundation and Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
The Bench asked Senior Counsel Sajan Poovayya, who appeared for the petitioners, to assist the court on whether registration of criminal case against officials responsible could be made mandatory in such cases.
Citing the incident in which eight-year-old Geethalakshmi died after falling into an uncovered portion of a drain on a footpath recently, the petitioners alleged that in spite of previous accidents of a similar nature, BBMP officials acted in utter disregard of all the safety rules laid down to contain a tragedy of this kind.
Pointing out that there have been some instances of criminal action being initiated against deviant, erring and callous officers in other parts of the country, particularly in Maharashtra, the petitioners pointed out that no criminal liability has yet been fixed in Bangalore despite several casualties.
“Rather than holding the negligent officer responsible, the State seems to buy peace with citizens by providing ex-gratia compensation of a few lakhs of rupees,” the petitioners contended while pointing out that family members of victims, most of whom hail from economically weaker section, have no societal clout to seek criminal action against negligent officials.