LT. COL. R.C. PRASHAR Vs. UNION OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
Lt. Col. R.C. Prashar
UNION OF INDIA
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BHAWANI SINGH, J. -
(1.) PETITIONER Lt. Col. R.C. Prashar was posted at Dharamshala during the year 1987. He had in his occupation bungalow No. 2, Bharatpur Lines, Dharamshala Cantonment. It was provided by the respondents and the petitioner was living there along with his family. This bungalow was built in the year 1926 as per the record maintained by the respondents.
(2.) ON November 24/25, 1987, fire started in the chimney of this bungalow and within a short time, the whole building was destroyed by the fire. Besides Government furniture, the petitioner lost his personal articles, value of which was to the extent of Rs. 49,370/ . By order of Station Head Quarter, Dharamshala Cantt. No. 2068/01, dated January 5,1988, Court of Enquiry was constituted which consisted of Presiding Officer Lt. Col. K.S. Thapa, two members Major Sudarshan and Captain Vinayak Bhat. During the course of its proceedings, the Court of Enquiry inspected the spot and took note of the loss sustained by the petitioner and the respondents. It also received evidence through various persons including the petitioner. On conclusion of the proceedings, the Court of Enquiry drew its conclusions and gave its findings and opinion. Some of the important aspects of this report under the heading 'Finding of the Court' may be stated thus:
(2) The bungalow No. 2, Bharatpur Lines, was constructed in 1926. The capital cost of the building including electric fittings was Rs. 23,195/ (witness No. 9). XXX XXX XXX (4) The bungalow No. 2, Bharatpur Lines, was allotted to Lt. Col. R.C. Prashar, 2 JAT and the same was occupied on 10th February, 1987 (witness No. 1). XXX XXX XXX (12) The life of a chimney is about 15 to 20 years. As per MES records no chimney in bungalow No 2 was repaired or replaced since its construction in 1926 (witness No. 9). XXX XXX XXX (14) The preliminary investigations were carried out which reveal that the fire broke out from chimney of the fireplace in children's room where the fire was lit on 24th November, 1987 (App. D). (15) The total loss of the personal belongings of Lt. Col. R.C. Prashar was approximately Rs. 49,370/ (Appendix 'A' attached). (16) The total loss of the MES property is amounting to Rs. 11,548/ (Appendix 'E' attached).Defence Service Regulation
Under 'Opinion of the Court', the Court of Enquiry stated that in the opinion of the court:
(a) The fire broke out in bungalow No. 2, Bharatpur Lines, due to hot smoke and sparks "escaping out of the perforations in the chimney, which heated up the wooden wall or ceiling and thus resulted in a major fire. (b) The loss of MES property amounting to Rs. 11,548/ and loss of government property amounting to Rs. 1,870/ be written off charge and the loss to be borne by the State. (c) The serviceable salvaged stores of bungalow No. 2, Bharatpur Lines, to be taken over by the MES and accounted for. (d) The officer to be suitably compensated.
(3.) THE petitioner wrote communication dated 12th February, 1990 (Annexure 4) requesting the fourth respondent to pay him Rs. 49,370/ for the loss of his belongings and drew the attention of the respondents to the opinion of the court that the petitioner was to be suitably compensated for the loss. The petitioner also pointed out that the cause of the fire was unserviceable chimneys which had not been replaced since the construction of the building, though the life of the chimneys was fifteen to twenty years and the fire had resulted due to hot smoke and sparks escaping out of the perforations in the chimney, which heated up the wooden wall and ceiling, thus causing the major fire.;
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