Madras High Court has upheld a single judge order awarding Rs 10 lakh compensation to the family of a Dalit student, who was murdered in a government hostel in 2010.
A division bench comprising justices R Sudhakar and S Vaidyanathan held that the authorities are vicariously liable to pay the compensation, more so when the occurrence had taken place within the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) hostel premises.
Noting that the hostel, meant for students who come from a very oppressed strata of society, did not have a watchman, the bench in its order said: "It is the paramount duty of any welfare state, to provide security to the oppressed classes.
"Therefore, it is the duty of government to provide all the necessary facilities, infrastructure as well as security for students staying in the hostel. In the absence of providing any security, much less, adequate security, the authorities cannot shirk away from their responsibility by merely stating that vicarious liability cannot be fixed on them," it said.
The bench was dismissing an appeal by the Tamil Nadu SC/ST and BC Welfare department and other authorities challenging the single judge order directing a compensation of Rs 10 lakh with interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum from January 2012 till the date of actual payment.
The matter relates to the murder of a first year ITI student, who was staying in the Adi Dravidar Welfare Hostel at Kayarkulam in Kancheepuram District on October 1, 2010.
The father of the deceased boy filed a petition seeking Rs 15 lakh compensation alleging that due to the callous attitude on the part of the authorities, the security in the hostel came to be compromised resulting in the death of his son.
The single judge, who allowed the plea, came to the conclusion that the authorities were liable to pay the compensation and awarded Rs. 10 lakh.
Aggrieved by the order, the appeal was filed stating that vicarious liability cannot be pinned on the authorities and they cannot be held responsible for the death of the student and therefore the compensation awarded was not sustainable.