Shimla, Jan 2: The Himachal Pradesh High Court today directed payment of compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the parents of each of the 24 engineering students of a Hyderabad college who were washed away in river Beas in near Thalot in Kullu district of the state on June 8,2014. The HC ordered the compensation to be paid within eight weeks. A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan directed that the amount compensation, including the interim compensation of Rs.500,000 already paid, would be paid along with interest at the rate of 7.5 per cent per annum from the date of the accident till realisation of the money.
Asking the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, Management of the Engineer College and the state government to share the burden in the ratio of 60:30:10 , the Court observed that the “Board authorities had a major role and they failed to exercise due care and thus saddled with liability upto 60 per cent.” “The college authorities should also have ascertained all the facts including the circumstances and other factors previously in the area before planning the excursion and we deem it proper to hold the college responsible upto 30 per cent and remaining liability of 10 per cent would be borne by the state government,” the order said.(Also Read: Three engineering students drown in Chhattisgarh)
The bench, which treated the matter as Public Interest Litigation (PIL), taking suo motu notice of news reports, disposed off the matter but made it clear that the findings recorded hereinabove are only prima facie in nature in order to grant compensation and cannot be basis for recording judgments in any civil suit, criminal proceedings or departmental proceedings. Twenty-four students of the V.N.R.Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering?and Technology in Hyderabad and a co-tour operator were swept away in turbulent Beas river when the Larji project authorities suddenly released water from Larji Dam on June 8 last year.