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Defying a system wherein a clerical error can deny justice, a judge of Kerala’s subordinate judiciary has evened the scales by settling a legal battle that lasted 22 years.
S. Manohar Kini, an Additional District Judge posted at the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in Palakkad district, paid the family of an accident victim a compensation of 1 lakh rupees from his own salary.
In 1993, a seven-year-old boy named Sreekumar was killed in a car accident. Three years later, the MACT granted Rs. 98,700 in compensation to the family. However, court officials erroneously granted the compensation to another claimant, Ramakrishnan, who passed away in 2004. On hearing about the error, the boy’s father, Sundaran approached the state’s high court, claiming the money that was given to Ramakrishnan. The high court asked the MACT to have a re-look into the case.
When the matter came before the MACT, Kini was put in the unenviable position of deciding whether Sundaran could claim compensation from the heirs of Ramakrishnan, who were financially unstable. Considering the plight of both parties, Kini saw no alternative but to pay the compensation to Sundaran out of his own salary.
Kini modestly declined to comment on the case, saying that it was “merely a matter of conscience” that drove him to the honourable gesture.