In an unusual move, the Kerala High Court on Friday listed a matter even after final judgment was delivered pursuant to an accident that set things on a different track.
Justice Devan Ramachandran while issuing the order remarked:
“This is a rather unusual situation where this Court has listed this matter even after final judgment has been delivered. I am constrained to consider this matter again because of a horrific accident which has been reported on 06.10.2021, while the work, as ordered by this Court, with respect to the ‘Seena Thodu’ was being carried on by the Corporation of Kochi.”
The above developments ensued in a plea where the petitioners had approached the Court seeking directions to the Corporation to widen the drain (Seena Thodu) running on the southern side of the Shenoy Cross Road towards Kathrikadavu.
After considering all the dialectical contentions, the Court ruled that nobody could stand in the way of the petitioner’s request to widen the drain sufficiently so that there will be no flooding, particularly since it was the monsoon season when the order was passed.
The Corporation was accordingly directed to widen the drain/thodu through the properties owned by respondents, as far as practically possible to the same width as is available with respect to the rest of the stretch within a period of one month from May.
An extension to complete the same was also granted thereafter. However, the recent accident was brought to the attention of the Court:
“Preliminary reports regarding the accident show that one person died in the accident, while two others went through excruciating pain for hours on end. The newspaper reports and the photographs would pierce the heart of any right-thinking person, and this Court is more concerned because the work is being done as per the directions issued by the Court.”
The Court opined that although it did not propose to say anything recriminatory against any of the stakeholders at this time, prima facie, a suspicion of lack of proper supervision would certainly come to the fore.
Advocate Rajesh Subramaniam appearing for respondent No.7, in front of whose property the accident occurred, affirmed that had proper care been taken, the accident could have been easily avoided. In fact, he submitted that such accidents were waiting to happen for the same reason and, therefore, pleaded that the Court step in and issue necessary directions.
It was further submitted that necessary enquiries are being now caused and that apposite reports will be filed before the Court.
“That said, at the present time, this Court is more concerned about the health and care of the persons who have survived the accident and that all support be offered to the family of the person who has unfortunately succumbed,” the Court said.
“I am aware that there are statutory provisions that would cover the field, but since the workers are not from Kerala, it is possible that they may not obtain necessary advise and support, which they would normally be deserving.”
The Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) was thus directed to enquire into the incident, particularly from the angle of the workers involved and to ensure that they get all the support and guidance with respect to the way forward.
It was also submitted that apposite action has already been initiated, noticing the various newspaper reports.
“Since, information before this Court is even now hazy as to where the survivors are – though Sri.Lal George, learned counsel for the petitioners, submitted that one of them in the District Hospital, Ernakulam – I direct the District Collector and the Corporation of Kochi to immediately ascertain the hospitals in to which the survivors have been admitted and make sure that they are given the best medical help and facilities as are possible.”
The Superintendents of the hospitals to which the survivors are admitted were thereby directed to ensure that the best team of doctors and nursing staff are made available to them, so as to bring them back into normal life, as far as is possible.
Quoad hoc the work on the ‘Seena Thodu’, the Corporation of Kochi was also directed to ensure that same is now taken forward only with competent and necessary supervision, particularly from the angle of engineering, so as to avoid any such accidents in future.
The matter has been listed for 20th for further consideration.
Case Title: Gracious Kuriakose v. State of Kerala & Ors.