BMC Likely To Face Legal Heat Amid 'Justice For Jyoti Prakash' Demand; Legal Options For His Family - Odisha Bytes

BMC Likely To Face Legal Heat Amid ‘Justice For Jyoti Prakash’ Demand; Legal Options For His Family

Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) could be staring at some serious legal trouble with opposition parties going on the offensive following the tragic death of a 15-year-old schoolboy, whose body was recovered near a city drain on Monday after a 19-hour operation by fire service personnel, BMC workers and local residents.

Jyoti Prakash Behera, 15, was on his way to his Sanskrit tuition when he was swept away into a swollen open drain at Satabdi Nagar as rain lashed and flooded the capital city on Sunday afternoon.

Also Read: Bhubaneswar Boy Swept Into Drain Found Dead

Both BJP and Congress have trained their guns at the civic administration and accused it of criminal negligence with party activists hitting the streets, demanding action against the authorities and Rs 50 lakh compensation for the victim’s family.

BJP’s Bhubaneswar chief Babu Singh lodged a complaint against BMC Commissioner Sanjay Singh at Khandagiri police station holding him responsible for the boy’s death.

Singh told mediapersons that no steps have been taken to cover these drains with concrete slabs despite seven such deaths being reported in the city in the last six years.  BJP members also gheraoed the BMC office demanding the arrest of the commissioner.

The Congress was also quick to lash out at BMC with senior party leader Narasingha Mishra attributing the death of the student to administrative apathy. Members of the Bhubaneswar unit of the party led by district president Biswajeet Dash also lodged an FIR against the civic body chief and the state sewerage board. They later met city DCP Umashankar Dash and demanded action against the bodies concerned.

Also Read: Bhubaneswar Drain Mishap: BJP Seeks Arrest Of BMC Commissioner, Ex-Mayor Shift The Blame To Denizens

Pushed to the backfoot, the Odisha government has announced Rs 4 lakh compensation for the bereaved family in accordance with the relief code.

While the opposition is going all out to corner the government and the BMC likely to face legal heat over the issue, Odisha Bytes spoke to a city-based lawyer to find out how such a recourse by the aggrieved family might play out.

THE LEGAL ROUTE

The family can sue the state officials both under civil and criminal laws. Besides claiming monetary damages, the complainant can seek criminal prosecution of the erring officials under Section 304A of IPC (causing death due to negligence), the senior advocate said.
Pointing out that most people avoid filing cases as they are wary of lengthy court proceedings, he asserted that death due to negligence might not amount to homicide but is still punishable with the minimum punishment of two years of imprisonment.
He also said that the procedure for such cases is different from those involving a private party. A prior sanction would be required from the government for the criminal prosecution of a government servant.
Since open drains have become a nuisance, District Magistrate or a Sub-Divisional Magistrate can also order for fencing them to prevent danger arising to the public under Section 133 of CrPC, he said.
“Accountability is important to prevent a recurrence of such tragic incidents. All eyes are on the government and the BMC and how they handle this issue. It is to be seen if the officials responsible are taken to task since numerous discussions and funds allotment have yielded zero results,” the senior lawyer added.
Also Read: Seven Deaths In 6 Years: Overflowing Open Drains In Smart City Bhubaneswar Ready To Devour You!

SIMILAR CASES IN OTHER STATES

2020: The death of 12-year-old Sumedha Kapuria, who fell into an open drain and got washed away at Kakatiya Nagar of Neredmet was declared as ‘accidental’ and not due to any negligence. Initially, it was alleged that the drain where she accidentally fell was not fenced and no safety measures were in place.

2019: A case against an unknown person under section IPC 304 A (Causing death by negligence) after a three-year-old fell into an open gutter at Malad East and remained untraceable.

The same week, a seven-year-old boy died after falling into an open drain in Dharavi slum and a 12-year-old boy lost his life when he fell into a water-filled pit, dug for the construction of the Coastal Road, near Worli.

2018: Parents of the four-year-old boy, who fell and died in a drain in Ghaziabad, filed an FIR against the officials of Ghaziabad municipal corporation.

2017: A renowned gastroenterologist from Bombay Hospital, Deepak Amrapurkar, fell into an open manhole when he decided to take a shortcut to home after his car got stuck in traffic as torrential downpour lashed Mumbai.

Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association had then filed a PIL in the Bombay high court, alleging that Amrapurkar fell into the open manhole as there was no ‘Danger’ sign or barricade near it and demanded registration of a criminal case under Section 304A of the IPC against civic commissioner Ajoy Mehta and other officers of the Storm Water Drains department, besides a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to be given to any charitable organisation.