The Madras High Court today issued notice to the state government on a petition seeking higher compensation to families of children who died in the Kumbakonam school fire accident in 2004.
The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, which heard the plea by one of the deceased’s father, K Inbaraj, issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Secretary, State School Education Department, and posted the matter to July 13 for further hearing.
The bench also directed the petitioners’ counsel to serve notice on the schools where the tragedy occurred. The matter relates to the fire tragedy that had occurred on July 16, 2004 at the compounds of Sri Krishna School and Saraswathi Nursery school where 94 children and a teacher were killed and several others were injured.
Earlier, the court had appointed a retired High Court Judge, Justice K Venkatraman, as one-man commission to determine the compensation to the victims’ families.
The commission fixed the compensation as Rs five lakh each to the families of the deceased. With respect to the injured children, the commission found it very difficult to find out the injuries/scars at a later stage.
Apart from Rs 25,000 already paid by the government, the commission fixed an amount of Rs 50,000 more to them. The petitioner had filed the petition, aggrieved by the compensation, and sought a direction to enhance it to Rs 25 lakh to each deceased’s kin, and Rs 20 lakh, instead of Rs six lakh, recommended by the commission, to six seriously injured students, and Rs five lakh from Rs 50,000 to those who suffered minor injuries.
The petitioner prayed that a direction may be issued to the state government to grant the relief within a reasonable time, including nine per cent interest from the date of occurrence of the tragedy.