Tiwari & ANR Vs. Central Reserve Police Force & ANR  INSC 32 (11
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 140 OF
2010 [Arising out of SLP [C] NO. 16714 OF 2006] Parasnath Tiwari & Anr.
.... Appellants Versus Central Reserve Police Force & Anr. .... Respondents
MUKUNDAKAM SHARMA, J.
In this appeal the scope for consideration is restricted only to
actual quantum of compensation payable to the appellants. The appellants herein
filed a Writ Petition in the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur seeking for
a direction to the respondents to pay to them compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs on
account of mental agony and loss suffered by the appellants due to death of their
son while in service.
High Court after hearing both the parties issued an order directing for payment
of compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to the appellants but in respect of their prayer
for payment of liberalised pension, the Writ Petition was dismissed.
The present Special Leave Petition was filed by the appellants,
who are the parents of the deceased, Sunil Kumar Tiwari, a Constable with the
Central Reserve Police Force [for short `CRPF'] who died while in service at
In order to fully appreciate the contentions it would be necessary
to set out certain facts leading to the filing of the Writ Petition in the High
Court of Chhattisgarh. The deceased was employed as a Constable in 66 Battalion
of CRPF at Bhubaneshwar. However, at the relevant point of time he was working
in the CRPF at Mizoram.
01.02.1982, the appellant received information from the office of Respondent
No. 2 that his son died on 01.02.1982 at Mizoram and that his last rites were
performed at the place where the deceased was working at the relevant point of
time, but no such intimation or information was given to the parents.
The respondents intimated the appellants that a fellow Constable -
Desh Raj while being on sentry duty in the residence of the Development Commissioner
at Aizwal saw a man climbing a guava 2 tree in the moonlight and consequently
shot four rounds of bullets within a distance of 15 yards as a result of which
the deceased died on the spot. In the Writ Petition, the appellant stated that
they made several representations to the Respondent No. 2 for sending the last
photograph of the deceased, which, however, were not received by them despite
such representations. It was, however, stated that the appellant received a
letter dated, 18.12.1982 from a friend of the deceased, viz., Ravindra Kumar
Sharma, wherein it was stated that the death of the deceased was not an
accident but it was a brutal murder by his fellow constables. Being aggrieved,
the appellant filed a Writ Petition in the High Court praying for the following
reliefs: - 1) to direct the respondents to inquire into the matter and report
to the Court and the appellant, 2) to direct the respondents to take action to
book the culprit, 3) that an independent inquiry be ordered by the CBI or some other
responsible authority to look into the case of the death of the appellant's son
and 4) if the Hon'ble High Court comes to the conclusion that the death of the
appellant's son was not by an accident, then, the appellant be suitably
compensated by the respondents. The respondents be directed to pay Rs. 5 lakhs
as compensation to the appellants.
In the said Writ Petition, the respondents replied stating inter
alia that the death of the deceased was an accident on the intervening night of
30th November/1st December, 1982. The Costable-Desh Raj, who had fired on the
deceased was arrested by the Civil Police, Aizwal and a criminal case was
registered against him. It was also stated that a departmental inquiry was
conducted against Constable-Desh Raj who was responsibe for the death of the
deceased, and LNK Ranjit Singh Yadav, who was the Guard Commander. It was also
mentioned that pursuant to the aforesaid departmental inquiry, Constable-Desh
Raj was dismissed from service and Guard Commander-LNK Ranjit Singh Yadav was
punished with reversion to the post of Constable for 16 months.
while disposing of the Writ Petition the High Court observed that the appellant
had suffered mental agony for more than 20 years, particularly, when the fact
of the cause of death was not informed to the appellant, his wife and relatives
and further by sending a photograph of a person not being the deceased. The
High Court was of the view that the appellant, his wife and other family
members had been denied proper information consequent to which they have
suffered mental agony and financial difficulties for a long period.
Accordingly, the High Court allowed the Writ Petition and directed the
respondents to pay a sum of Rs. 1 lakh with costs of Rs. 5,000/- to the
appellant and his wife for the mental agony and loss suffered by them.
Being aggrieved by the aforesaid order passed by the High Court,
the present Special Leave Petition was filed on which we have heard the learned
counsel appearing for the parties. Counsel appearing for the appellants
restricted his argument only to the issue of enhancement of quantum of
compensation awarded. No submission was made against the order denying
liberalised pension. As such, the order passed by the High Court denying liberalised
pension is not considered and interfered with.
Counsel appearing for the appellants submitted that the amount of
Rs. 1 lakh, which is directed to be paid is too meager an amount to be paid for
loss and mental agony caused to the appellant and his wife. He has drawn our
attention to paragraph 24 of the judgment passed by the High Court wherein it
is observed by the High Court that the appellant has suffered mental agony for
more than 20 years. Relying on the said observation, the counsel submitted that
the amount of compensation should have been at least Rs. 5 lakhs and in support
of the said submission he relied upon the decision of 5 the Supreme Court in
Charanjit Kaur (Smt.) v. Union of India and Others [(1994) 2 SCC 1].
Mrs. Indira Jaisingh, learned Additional Solicitor General
appearing on behalf of the respondent, however, submitted that in the facts and
circumstances of the case payment of Rs. 1 lakh compensation should be held to
be justified as there was no negligence on the part of the CRPF in the entire
incident and that the incident had happened because of a mistaken identity only
for which the family is being suitably compensated.
The son of the appellant was working in a sensitive area.
Constable Desh Raj who was in the sentry duty at the residence of Development
Commissioner, Aizwal mistook the deceased as an intruder to the house and as a
measure of safety he fired upon the deceased. On facts, it turns out to be a
case of accident and wrong identity. However, the death of son of the
appellant, is definitely not only a personal loss to the family but also
financial. The deceased was a victim of an unfortunate incident and this has
caused a heavy loss and mental agony to the family members of the deceased. The
aforesaid findings recorded by the High Court 6 have not been challenged by the
respondents before us by filing any independent appeal.
That being the position, we are of the considered opinion that the
amount of Rs. 1 lakh directed to be paid to the appellants towards compensation
and damages is meager. Therefore, we are to consider what would be an
appropriate amount of compensation which is payable to the appellants.
The case of Charanjit Kaur (Supra) relied upon by the learned
counsel appearing for the appellants is clearly distinguishable on facts and,
therefore, the ratio of the aforesaid decision cannot be made applicable to the
facts and circumstances of the present case.
The son of the appellant was a Constable and, therefore, in our
considered opinion there would have to be some surmises and conjectures in
arriving at the amount of compensation payable by the respondents to the
appellants. We have been informed that the appellant no. 1 is an old man and
that the deceased was the only earning member of the family. The earnings of
the deceased were a source of sustenance for the family. Besides, loss of a son
at such a young age creates a void in the family, which cannot be filed up by
making payment of any compensation. Considering these facts and being alive to
the escalating cost of living, we deem it appropriate 7 to enhance the amount
of compensation fixed by the High Court.
therefore, direct that respondents shall pay to the appellant an amount of Rs.
2 lakhs as compensation instead of Rs. 1 lakh fixed by the High Court. The said
amount of Rs. 2 lakhs shall be paid within a period of six weeks from today.
The amount already paid towards compensation fixed by the High Court shall in
natural course be deducted while complying with this order. If the amount is
not paid within six weeks from today, the balance amount payable shall earn
interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from expiry of date of six weeks
till the date of payment.
The appeal stands disposed of in terms of the aforesaid order.
..................................J. [V.S. Sirpurkar]
...............................J. [Dr. Mukundakam Sharma]
January 11, 2010.