Justice R Suresh Kumar, while holding that the authorising authority -police, revenue, health and fire service-and any other allied department, neither acted in accordance with law in either granting or refusing licence to the shop in question, said, “This court has no other option except to come to the irresistible conclusion that the state machinery certainly failed in these aspects and therefore, it can very well be construed either as a dereliction of duty or in violation of their responsibility.”
“Therefore, the state machinery can very well be put under liability to pay compensation and in this regard, absolutely, there is no impediment in fastening the responsibility on the shoulders of the state and its instrumentalities,” the judge added.
Further, the judge, on holding that when a statute confers certain powers on the authority of the state to do a particular thing in a particular manner and the same is not done in accordance with the statute, then certainly such act would be in violation of law and thereby unlawful, said, “All these factors would go to show combined and coherently that in every aspect the state machinery had failed as none of the department, who are involved in this process before granting of licence, has acted upon with due diligence and care.”
Noting that the responsibility can very well be fixed also on the shop owner for his admitted violation of law and his carelessness, the Judge then fixed the compensation ranging from Rs 6.15 lakh to Rs 17.75 lakh to all the 32 victim families. The judge also directed to share the same at 50 per cent each by the state and the shop owner before granting three months to both to comply with the order.
As many as 31 pleas were moved seeking a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to each of the victim’s family.