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Bombay HC to home dept: Compensate family of constable who died on anti-Naxalite duty

After Chavan's death, in view of a Government Resolution (GR) of November 2008, the SRPF started paying salary to his family, which the deceased was receiving at the time of his death.

In a relief to the family of a State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) head constable, who died while serving in a Naxalite area in Gadchiroli in 2009, the Bombay High Court last month directed the state to pay arrears of his salary, which was being paid to his family till 2019 but was stopped due to an order of the state home department.

A division bench of Justice K K Tated and N R Borkar was hearing a petition by the wife of Ganesh Chavan, who died on July 15, 2009. Chavan, the only earning member in his family, was serving as head constable with SRPF and discharging his duties in the Naxalite area of Gadchiroli district. He and three other personnel died after their vehicle was swept away due to raging waters in a river.

After Chavan’s death, in view of a Government Resolution (GR) of November 2008, the SRPF started paying salary to his family, which the deceased was receiving at the time of his death. The family had survived on the compensation benefits for the past decade until it was stopped in August 2019.

The state home department on July 20, 2019, rejected a proposal by the DGP office seeking appropriate orders pertaining to compensation and other benefits to the Chavan family.

The rejection came after a Judicial Magistrate First Class held that the death of four police personnel was the result of an error of an accused driver of a tipper truck, who was convicted under section 304 (A) (punishment for causing death by negligence) of IPC. Thereafter, compensatory benefits to the family were stopped from August 2019.

After perusing submissions, the bench observed, “In our view, the issue of conviction or acquittal was irrelevant for the purpose of deciding the proposal. The only question which was required to be considered by the respondent state home department in terms of November 2008 GR was whether the deceased had died during anti-Naxal operation, anti-terrorist operation or rescue operation.”

It added, “Admittedly, Chavan and other police personnel who died were returning to their camp after carrying out the rescue operation. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, in our view, the July 20, 2009 order cannot be sustained and therefore it is set aside.”

Allowing the petition, the bench directed the respondents to accord the benefits to which the family of the deceased was entitled and asked them to pay arrears of salary from August 2019 within two months.

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