Orissa High Court upholds NHRC directive on compensation to ASHA worker’s kin

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Orissa High Court has upheld the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to pay Rs 3 lakh to the family of an ASHA worker of Daringbadi health centre in Kandhamal district who died on the way to a hospital in an auto-rickshaw as the ambulance could not reach her native Budupanka village due to absence of proper road and mobile connectivity. 

ASHA worker Mini Pradhan had died on September 5, 2016 while she was travelling to the hospital for delivery.

Dismissing a writ petition filed by the State government, Justice Arindam Sinha in his order stated, “It is expected the payment will be made within four weeks to the kin of the deceased. Within that time there must be communication of this order with acknowledgment of receipt to the opposite party.”

The Odisha government had filed the writ petition in the High Court against the decision of the NHRC in response to a petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, who had demanded compensation, fair probe into the incident and assurance of ambulance, road and mobile connectivity. 

Acting on the petition, the apex human rights panel had recommended Rs 3 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased last year. The State government had moved the High Court seeking to quash the NHRC order.

Earlier, the Madras High Court in a similar petition had held the recommendation to be binding, axiomatically, sanctus and sacrosanct and stated that the public duty is imposed on the government concerned or authority to implement the recommendation.

Following the order, the NHRC observed that the direction of the Commission be it NHRC or even the State Commission is binding and the State has no discretion to avoid implementation of the recommendations. If the State is aggrieved, it can only resort to legal remedy seeking judicial review of the Commission’s recommendations.

Meanwhile, the NHRC has directed the Chief Secretary to file a compliance report along with proof of payment to the kin of the deceased ASHA worker within four weeks.

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