Drowning cases lost in legal maze

A classic example is a case reported in Deccan Herald of Smruti Rajan Sharma (27), a techie who drowned at PM swimming pool in Jayanagar 3rd Block. The case moved to New Delhi due to a technical hitch. On April 16, 2008, around 7 pm, Smruti, a microchip designer at CG Corel was found lying face down in the pool at the deep end. A doctor who happened to be present at the pool pulled him out. After first-aid, he was taken to hospital and was declared dead.

A case of negligence leading to death was filed against the pool management, at the Tilak Nagar police station. However, the charges were dropped on the issue of bail. Smruti’s father Shivaji Sha­rma filed a case in the consumer court in Delhi against the owner of the swimming pool, the BBMP and the Reliance General Insurance, all of whom have filed objections to the charges. As the compensation demanded was Rs two crore and the consumer court in Bangalore can try cases involving not more than Rs 50 lakh, the case was filed in the consumer court in Delhi.

There has been no official trial in court and the dates are constantly pushed. Arshad Ahmed, the lawyer representing Smruti, said: “There are several reasons for delay. This case was filed a bit late, and the defendants responded late.”

At the time of the accident, the head coach of the swimming pool was absent and the coach in charge, Nataraj, was not only ignorant but also arrogant towards the students, says Sudharshan, a close friend of Smruti.

Smruti was a hydrophobic and joined the swimming coaching camp to overcome his fear. The coaches would take beginners to the deep end of the pool, which is 16 feet, teach them there and then bring them back to the shallow end which is three feet deep. No one knows what happened to Smruti and all the coaches present there were confused.

“The lack of preparedness and their oblivious nature to the catastrophe was what angered the family the most. They did not even have a first-aid kit with them,” says Sudharshan. Shivaji Sharma passed away last year due to depression. Smruti had lost his mother early in his life and was unmarried. His three sisters, along with his close friends, are fighting the case.

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