Himachal Pradesh High Court slammed Himachal Pradesh government over its reply filed before it into public interest litigation registered as ‘Suo Moto’ petition initiated by the court on media reports after washing of 24 students from VNR Jyoti Institute of Engineering, Hyderabad in the Beas river on June 8, 2014, recently.
The Division bench of Acting Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan yesterday, passed above observation after going through the reply filed by respondent state and management of HPSEB running 192 MW Larji Hydel Power Project.
Showing dissatisfaction over the status report submitted by the state Advocate General S.S. Dogra it ordered the concerned deputy commissioner and concerned officer of HPSEB to present before the court ‘in person’ on June 19, 2014 on the next date of hearing the PIL.
Single judge bench of vocation court headed by Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, who had taken ‘Suo Moto’ cognizance on the basis of a news report registering Public Interest Litigation into the matter that students were washed away due to sudden discharge of the water into river allegedly without any prior warning.
Court had ordered to furnish status report having detail about (i) cause of the incident ; (ii) details of the steps taken with regard to the relief and rescue; (iii) place on record instructions regarding procedure to be observed before discharge of water from the barrage/reservoir etc.; (iv) details of the warning system found installed at the site including and not restricted to siren, board carrying message of warning etc. and (v) place on record the steps taken to ensure no re-occurrence of such incident in future.
The Bench after going through the reply, adjourned the proceeding of PIL for June 19 asking the respondent state to come with detail reply sought by the court.
The court had asked the authority to furnish before it that whether flood gates of dam were opened without any warning,…prima-facie, it is established that it is not only a case of callousness, but a case of grave negligence on the part of the project authorities.
The court had also stated in earlier hearing that it could not be even said to be an error of judgment or accident as much as it was the duty of the authorities to have at least issue warning and resorted to the usual and common method of blaring the siren so as to ensure evacuation of the river bank before discharging the water.
Therefore, the project authorities have prima-facie displayed callous and wanton disregard to their duties.