• Six-year-old Abyan died after falling into a sewer last year
• Defendants disregarded public safety by leaving manholes open in city, court told

KARACHI: A father, whose son fell into an open manhole last year, filed a lawsuit on Thursday in court, seeking more than Rs60 million in damages against the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) over their negligence.

Last year in May, six-year-old Abyan Uddin, student of class KG-II, was playing cricket with his 10-year-old brother Arib Uddin, and their friends when he slipped and fell into an open manhole and died.

The victim’s father, Atif Uddin, filed an application through Advocate Usman Farooq before the senior civil judge (East), seeking over Rs60m in damages under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855, from the KWSB and the KMC following the death of his son.

Advocate Farooq stated that the six-year-old victim, who was aspiring to become a doctor in future, had achieved Grade-A in his last exam.

However, due to negligence and lack of proper maintenance of the manholes by the defendants, the child lost his life.

The counsel submitted that the KWSB was a statutory body responsible for production, transmission, and distribution of water to citizens of Karachi, as well as managing the sewerage system within the city to ensure environmental hygiene.

He further stated that the defendants were obligated to construct, clean, properly maintain, and cover manholes in Karachi under the water and sewerage laws and relevant regulations.

Referring to the directives of the Federal Ombudsman regarding the covering of open manholes to prevent potential accidents, the counsel argued that despite those warnings, the defendants disregarded public safety.

“The defendants failed to take appropriate measures to mitigate the risk, despite being fully aware of the hazardous condition of the open manholes, thereby breaching their duty of care owed to the public,” the counsel contended.

The counsel also argued that deceased Abyan Uddin was very fit and in robust health and cared for and loved by the plaintiff and his family. The parents wanted to see him in a prosperous state, he added.

He stated that the victim could have survived up to the age of 70 given the long life span in his family pedigree, advancement in medical facilities, availability of medical treatment and the good climate of the area from where he belonged to.

He submitted that the victim had a whole life and a bright future ahead and he aimed to become a doctor after getting higher education.

He asked the court to decree the sum of Rs62,620,000 against the defendants to pay as damages/compensation to the plaintiff.

The court was also asked that the profit/markup at the rate of 21 per cent per annum might also be paid to the plaintiff.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2024

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