Hooch tragedy: Rs 1.5L aid for victims’ kin

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the State government to provide an ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh to the kin of each victim of 2012 hooch tragedy in which 40 persons from Cuttack and Khurda lost their life after consuming spurious medicine.

According to sources, NHRC has asked the government to provide a total compensatory aid of Rs 60 lakh to the families of the victims with in a period of six weeks and submit a report on it.

Earlier, Justice Naidu Commission had suggested the State government to provide monetary assistance to the victim’s family, but the proposal was not accepted by the government.

Notably. a total of 40 people had died due to consumption of contaminated medicinal preparations containing alcohol in the two districts.

However, the judicial commission did not recommend monetary relief for the dependents of one person, who also died due to consumption of contaminated medicinal preparations, as he was one of the illicit vendors.

Taking the observations of the judicial commission further, NHRC member Justice D. Murugesan observed that the enjoyment of basic human rights is the entitlement of every citizen and their protection is the obligation of every civilised state.

The NHRC further observed that since it failed to do so in this case and the negligence of its officers caused the unfortunate death of human beings, pecuniary compensation is an effective and suitable remedy for redressal of the established infringement of the fundamental right to life of a citizen by the public servants and the state is vicariously liable for their acts.

The Justice Naidu Commission, after enquiry, had observed that “all the 41 people, who lost their lives, belong to the lower echelon of the society. They are daily labourers and perform strenuous work … considering their ability, generally they prefer intoxicants which are cheaper and stronger.”

“The duty of the state, if it does not support on prohibition, is to assure such privilege. It appears that the state machinery has failed to do so and the untoward incident occurred due to negligence or lackadaisical attitude of the officers of the local administration. In view of the aforesaid position, the Commission feels it would be just and proper to award a compensation of Rs.1.50 lakhs to the widow and dependents of each deceased person who succumbed after consuming contaminated medicinal preparation,” said the Naidu Commission report.