2004 school fire tragedy: Madras HC issues notice to TN govt on contempt plea
Chennai: The Madras High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government for its “failure” to pay compensation to the victims of the 2004 Kumbakonam school fire tragedy as ordered by the court.
The notice was issued on a contempt petition filed against the government by the families of the victims of the mishap.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice R Mahadevan issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Secretary, School Education Department, and adjourned the hearing in the matter till next week.
As many as 94 children and a teacher were charred to death and 16 others seriously injured when a devastating fire swept through the Sri Krishna School and Saraswathi Nursery School complex in Kumbakonam on July 16, 2004.
The state government had announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 each for the families of the victims, who had filed petitions in the High Court challenging the amount.
The High Court, in 2014, had set up an inquiry commission to look into the matter. The commission, last year, awarded a relief of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the victims.
The government had informed the court on October 18, 2016 that the compensation amount, as determined by the Commission of Inquiry, will be paid once the beneficiaries provided their respective bank account details through their counsel.
Following this, the court had ordered that the matter be settled within four weeks of receiving the account details.
In the contempt plea, the Kumbakonam School Fire Tragedy Victims’ Association submitted that all the beneficiaries had furnished their bank account details by October 27, 2016 and as per the court order, the government ought to have paid the compensation on or before November 27, 2016, but it had not been paid.
The association alleged that the government had flouted the High Court order and hence, the authorities concerned were liable to be punished for contempt of court.