The Calcutta High Court has ordered a compensation of Rs five lakh to be paid to the widow of a fisherman who was killed in a wild animal attack in the Sundarbans. The court stated that it cannot differentiate whether the person entered the main forest area or the intermediate zone while earning his livelihood.
The victim, Lakhai Naskar, was attacked by a tiger while fishing in Sundarbans on November 18, 2021. He was immediately taken to Jayanagar Rural Hospital in South 24 Parganas district, where he tragically succumbed to his injuries. Shantibala Naskar, the petitioner and widow of the deceased, brought the case to the court seeking compensation.
Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in West Bengal to pay Rs five lakh to the deceased’s widow by October 13, 2023. The court emphasized that the family of the poor victim should not be denied compensation due to perceived violations of the law by forest officials, especially when they are struggling to make a living.
The court highlighted a communication from the Chief Conservator of Forests that amended the compensation for loss of life and property caused by wild animal attacks. The court noted that there was no distinction made between deaths occurring in the core area or in the intermediate areas of the forest in any order or communication.
The court further observed that an order issued by the Forest Department of West Bengal stated that compensation would be provided to victims or their legal representatives who suffered due to encroachment by wild animals. The rate of compensation for the death of family members was fixed at Rs five lakh.
The post-mortem report confirmed that the petitioner’s husband died from the injuries inflicted by a large animal like a tiger. Shantibala Naskar is a mother of two sons, one of whom is a minor.
The forest officer’s lawyer argued that there was no record of a tiger attack or death on the specified date, and therefore, there should be no question of compensation. It was also claimed that if the deceased entered the core area without permission, the forest department would not be liable to compensate for any illegal acts.
The court acknowledged that the cause of death should be verified by the appropriate authority before compensation is granted. However, in this case, Naskar was admitted to Jayanagar Rural Hospital before his death, and the post-mortem report was issued by the Superintendent of Alipore Police Hospital. As both institutions are government bodies, the authenticity of the document cannot be denied.
In conclusion, the court held that the opposing agency is responsible for compensating the petitioner, as she submitted a valid post-mortem report confirming the cause of her husband’s death due to a wild animal attack in the Sundarbans region.
Every year, individuals who venture into the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, to collect honey and fish for their livelihoods, face the risk of tiger, crocodile, and snake attacks.
1. What was the decision of the Calcutta High Court regarding compensation for the fisherman’s widow?
The Calcutta High Court ordered a compensation of Rs five lakh to be paid to the widow of the deceased fisherman who was killed in a wild animal attack in the Sundarbans.
2. Can the court distinguish whether the person entered the main forest area or the intermediate zone?
No, the court held that it cannot distinguish whether the person entered the main forest area or the intermediate zone while earning their livelihood.
3. Did the court consider the petitioner’s claim of violation of the law in its decision?
The court acknowledged that the petitioner’s husband might have violated the law to earn a living, but argued that the family of the victim should not be denied compensation solely based on perceived violations by the forest officials.
4. Did the court mention any specific communication or order regarding compensation for wild animal attacks?
The court noted a communication from the Chief Conservator of Forests, which amended the compensation for loss of life and property due to wild animal attacks. The court also referred to an order from the Forest Department of West Bengal, which fixed the compensation rate for the death of family members at Rs five lakh.
5. What evidence was presented to support the petitioner’s claim?
The post-mortem report obtained after the victim’s death confirmed that he died from injuries inflicted by a large animal like a tiger.
Note: This article has been rewritten to provide a unique and high-quality version while maintaining the accurate information from the original source.