The Gujarat State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has finally brought justice to a family in Godhra by instructing Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to give a compensation amounting to Rs. 4 lakh to the customers for a mistake the company made earlier. The family, however had an extremely long wait ahead of them, before they finally got their compensation, as the final judgement came only after almost a decade passed  – after thirteen whole years to be precise.

Wheeling back to March 18, 1999, Madhubala Kuswah from Godhra was watching television with her two little sons. Her mother, Shyama Devi had come visiting from Uttar Pradesh, then. The elder son, Madhvendra Singh, who was all of eleven, at the time of the accident had touched a telephone lying on a table next to him. The touch proved fatal, as the boy suffered a nasty bout of electric shock when he touched the telephone. As reported, the telephone had been dead for a quite sometime and had apparently been carrying high voltage electric current. When the child touched it, the current passed onto him from the telephone and such was the impact that he got stuck to it. 

Unfortunately, the kid was seated on a sofa, next to his grandmom and younger brother. Because he was sitting just next to them, the electric current passed on to them, as well. The child’s mother, Madhubala, too wasn't spared as she was sitting on the floor, just next to them. The impact of the shock was such that the sofa on which the family was seated on caught fire. The smoke from the fire alarmed their neighbors who rushed to the place and immediately took all of them to a nearby hospital. Out of the four, Madhubala and the younger child survived, while Shyama Devi and Madhvendra Singh succumbed to their injuries. 

Image for representative purposes only

Image for representative purposes only

Post this incident, Shiv Pratap Singh Kuswah, Madhubala's husband, along with Shiv Baksh Singh, the father–in–law filed a complaint with the court mentioning that this fatal incident wouldn’t have happened, had BSNL fixed the telephone lines. Shiv Pratap said, “Around four days before the tragic incident took place, a vehicle had hit the telephone post. Because of the impact the wires snapped and hung over the high tension wires that used to pass over it. I made several complaints to BSNL to look into the issue and fix the line but they never responded.

Himanshu Thakker was the lawyer who represented the victims said that, “The court has told BSNL to pay a sum of around Rs 4 lakh saying that the incident could have been avoided if BSNL had acted in time. The judgment passed on March 30 directed BSNL to pay Rs1,19,000 with 9% interest from the date of the incident. Though the judgment is in our favour, I feel that the compensation should rather be paid by the employee of BSNL who was responsible for the delay.

Apalled at the sorry of state of affairs or relieved that the family has finally got the compensation, we are not too sure what we feel more, at the moment. 

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