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STATEMENT OF ISSUES

1. Whether there is any breach of duty on part of the Chennai corporation?

1.1 Duty to maintain roads and bridges under law. 2.1 Verdict in Smt. Kumari vs State of Tamil Nadu.

2. Whether there is any proof of negligence?

2.1 Res Ipsa Loquitur 2.2 Municipal Corporation of Delhi vs Subhagwanti

PLEADINGS
1. Whether there is any breach of duty on part of the Chennai corporation?
1.1 Duty to maintain roads and bridges under law.
The city of Chennai is governed by The Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919 with regard to any affair relating to the corporation. The Act at section 3 (20) defines public street as any street, road, square, court, alley passage or riding-path over which the public have a right of way, whether a thoroughfare or not and includes --(a) the roadway over any public bridge or causeway ; hence forth foot path in a bridge is also a public street under the Act. Section 204 speaks about maintenance and repair of streets, it states that the corporation shall cause the public streets to be maintained and repaired and make all improvements thereto which are necessary or expedient for the public safety or convenience. So it is the duty of the Chennai Corporation to maintain and repair the footpath of the bridge. Here Mr. Raju was walking with his 4yr old daughter Amudha from the Marina Beach towards Island ground. As they wee walking on the pedestrian footpath on the bridge across the Coovam river, Amudha fell into the river though a gaping hole on the foot path of the bridge. The bridge was neither maintained properly nor repaired so it is a clear breach of duty and the corporation had failed to comply with its statutory duty. Moreover it was stated in D. Malligarjuna Rao vs Member Secretary, Chennai that It is not open to the Corporation to say that It is not their responsibility. The Corporation collects tax from the citizens. They are bound to maintain roads and water works properly and efficiently so that it serves all the citizens. There is a duty cast upon them to maintain the roads in proper conditions. The liability in the present case is absolute. Therefore it is humbly submitted that, the Chennai Corporation had a statutory duty to maintain and repair the footpath of the bridge.

2.1 Verdict in Smt. Kumari vs State of Tamil Nadu.


In the case of Smt. Kumari vs State of Tamil Nadu, the six years old son of the appellant died as a result of falling in a ten feet deep sewerage tank in the city of Madras. The tank was not covered with a lid and was left open. The Supreme Court ordered the State of Tamil Nadu to pay to the appellant a sum of Rs. 50,000/ (Rupees fifty thousand) with interest at 12% per annum from January 1, 1990 till the date of payment. The gaping hole in the footpath of the bridge is similar to opened manhole.

For the loss of their only child the petitioner claims Rs 2,00,000/ as compensation. It is the mental agony of the parents of the child which is the real determining factor for awarding damages in such cases. It must be remembered that in such cases there is bound to be a permanent mental scar in mind, particularly of the mother of the child, which is likely to last throughout her life. The mother will be thinking of that child the rest of her life, and would be imagining what the child would have done on growing up, she would imagine about the marriage of the child, the future of the child, and so on. That is the natural and normal mentality of every mother. Hence, the agony of such a mother for the rest of her life is indescribable and unimaginable. The compensation, therefore, must be awarded taking this factor into account. Wounds of the mind can be as damaging and bitter (if not more) than the wounds of the body, and the law cannot ignore this. As held in The President vs A.Babudeen , Mental agony is certainly a determining factor which has to be taken into account when awarding damages. In Lata Wadhwa Vs. State of Bihar, where a number of persons, including children, died in a fire accident in a function organized by the Tata Iron and Streel Company (TISCO) at Jamshedpur, parents of children in the age group of below 10 years were allowed Rs.1,50,000/- and parents of children in the age group of 10 and 15 years Rs.2,60,000/- as compensation. In addition, in each case Rs.50,000/- were awarded as conventional amount presumably towards benefit of the estate. Therefore it is humbly submitted that, the Chennai Corporation should compensate the petitioner for negligence and mental agony.

2. Whether there is any proof of negligence?


2.1 Res Ipsa Loquitur
The maxim Res Ipsa Loquitor is a Latin phrase, which means, The thing speaks for itself. It allows the claimant to succeed in action for negligence even when there is no evidence as to what caused the accident and therefore of whether it was attributable to negligence on the part of the defendant. Here it is an accident which could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care and maintenance. In the case of The Municipal Corporation of Delhi vs Smt. Sushila Devi, it was held that the duty of the owner/occupier of the premises by the side of the road whereon persons lawfully pass by, extends to guarding against what may happen just by the side of the premises on account of anything dangerous on the premises. The premises must be maintained in a safe state of repair.

The Chennai Corporation should have maintained the bridge in a safe state of repair and cannot escape the liability for the injury caused. The gaping hole in the footpath of the bridge speaks for itself, and proves the lack of reasonable care and maintenance. Therefore it is humbly submitted that, the gaping hole stands as a proof for negligence.

2.2 Municipal Corporation of Delhi vs Subhagwanti


In the case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi vs Subhagwanti, three suits for damages were filed by the respondents as heirs of three persons who died as a result of the collapse of the Clock Tower in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, belonging to the appellant-Corporation, formerly the Municipal Committee of Delhi. The Supreme Court held that it was the duty of the Municipal Committee to take proper care of buildings so that they should not prove a source of danger to persons using the highway as a matter of right. Here the respondent did not take proper care of the footpath of the bridge and respondent is absolutely liable to compensate the petitioner for the loss suffered by the injury. In the facts and circumstances of this case, the mere fact that there was a gaping hole in the footpath of the bridge tells its own story in raising an inference of negligence so as to establish a prima facie case against the respondent. Therefore it is humbly submitted that, the prima facie case against the respondent is established.