The Orissa High Court has directed the state government to pay ₹ 10 lakh as compensation to the father of a seven-year-old girl for her "avoidable" death due to a wall collapse at a school in Keonjhar district nine years ago.

A Division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice R K Pattanaik said that the responsibility for the girl's death "definitely rests with the State" as the negligence of authorities by use of defective materials to construct a kitchen on the school premises had already been established during the inquiry.

Advocate Prabir Kumar Das appeared for the petitioner while Advocate Ishwar Mohanty appeared for the state.

Raimati Soren was a resident of Kolhabeda Ashram School hostel in Ghasipura block, around 100 km from Cuttack. On October 3, 2013, a wall of a newly constructed kitchen shed collapsed and the Class I student, who was brushing her teeth, was crushed under the debris.

Subsequent inquiries revealed that the wall was constructed illegally without proper foundation. Hearing the writ petition by Soren's father, the Bench said that the death would not have occurred if all safety measures were strictly followed.

"The death of the young child was totally unnecessary and avoidable. The responsibility for death definitely rests with the State," it said in its nine-page judgement.

The Bench said the amount already given to Soren by the state earlier could be deducted and the balance must be given to him within eight weeks.

The petitioner was provided an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 earlier, besides Rs 10,000 from the District Red Cross Society Fund.

The Court said the death appeared to be in the pattern of several similar instances in the schools of Odisha. It directed district collectors to ensure strict compliance of the Supreme Court directions on measures for the prevention of fatal accidents of children.

Cause Title: Madhav Soren v. State of Odisha & Ors.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs