A Grieving Father Sues Roadmakers To Avenge His Son's Death

There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were - Dwight D. Eisenhower

The worst thing that could happen to a parent is losing one's child. It is especially traumatic when the child's death is due to road accident, because the grief comes with anger and guilt.

Believe it or not, road accidents have become a major concern of almost every state in India. In most road deaths i.e. usually hit and run, one knows who to blame, but what about the deaths caused by shabby, pothole ridden roads? Who are to be blamed here? If the report published in TOI is to be believed in 2017 potholes have killed more people (3597 deaths) than terrorists (803 deaths). The reports also states that the most notorious states when it comes to shabby roads is Uttar Pradesh, Maharashta, Haryana and Gujarat. Uttar Pradesh accounts for 987 deaths in 2017 itself.

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This news story is about a parent facing his worst fear and all because of badly kept roads. On February 10, 2014, Manoj Wadhwa was riding on his bike -along with his wife, Tina and three-year-old son, Pavitra, who was sitting between them- on the National Highway-2 in Faridabad (Haryana). It was around 10 PM and they were returning home. That's when the unthinkable happened. He spotted a pothole filled with water, so he applied brakes in order to avoid it. That's when he lost control of the two-wheeler as it hit the pothole. Pavitra fell and died on the spot, while his mother Tina suffered grievous injuries as a vehicle ran over her legs.  

In just few seconds, Manoj's life had turned upside down. He rushed Tina to the hospital, while some bystanders took Pavitra to another hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. Grief stricken and filled with anger Manoj didn't wanted to just mourn his son's death. He decided to file a case against the perpetrators. He with the help of his lawyer registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 304- A of the IPC. The police, however, closed the file in June 2014, claiming that this was a hit-and-run case.

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Desperate to see some action taken, Manoj tried to get in touch with National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), the Haryana Government and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as well as the police but no one answered his calls. Frustrated with the lack of response and the “sloppy” investigation in the matter, Manoj moved the Punjab and Haryana High Courts to seek justice for Pavitra’s death in 2016.

In October 2017, he even filed a contempt petition against the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), as it failed to respond to Wadhwa. When in August 2018, the case was brought before the court, equally angered by sloppy investigation, they pulled up Faridabad Police and ordered them to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in August 2018.

The Faridabad city police filed a report with the HC saying that the SIT had found the directors and project managers of Larsen & Toubro and Delhi-Agra Toll Road Private Ltd responsible for the condition of the road. It its historic verdict the HC has held six executives of the two agencies responsible for the mishap. According to the report, the six accused have been charged with “causing grievous hurt by endangering life or personal safety and causing death due to negligence” under section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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Denson Joseph, the lawyer who represented Wadhwa family stated while presenting his case, “The couple suffered mental agony. This was not all. The family spent more than Rs 24 lakh on the treatment of Tina, who remained hospitalized for more than a month.”

The grieving father, whose 4 year long fight for justice was finally nearing completion told TOI, “The fight is not just for my son. Why can’t agencies take steps to avoid such tragedies? Why can’t we have a protocol to identify and fill our potholes? The practice of paying Rs 4-5 lakh compensation for each death should stop. How can government simply end the matter by fixing such a price for any human life?”

Craters are no-doubt are hazardous, not wearing a helmet makes matters even more difficult. But still punishing the municipal and road-owning authorities for their inefficiency and corruption is a welcome trend. And we hope and more and more people seek accountability from the government and its representatives.

Picture Source : The Better India; Daily Hunt; Jagran.com

 




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