The recent ruling by the Supreme Court of India in the Som Mittal case (read DNA report here) is quite shocking. While I am not debating the responsibility of a company in ensuring the safety and well-being of its employees, this verdict is taking it too far. Sure, if there has been gross negligence or even complicity on the part of the organisation, there is no question about this verdict. However, with all due respect to the tragedy encountered by Pratibha Srikanta Murthy and her near and dear ones, accidents do happen despite one’s best efforts and intents. And as long as the best efforts and intents were there, I don’t know how a CEO can be liable for prosecution for negligence if anything untoward at all happens to them may be. At worst, this ruling could be open to misuse effectively absolving everyone else involved of the responsibility, most of all the victim himself/herself.
Sure, we must learn from these accidents. Make the norms more stringent for corporations in ensuring their employees’ security and well-being so that accidents such as these are avoided in future. More importantly, pass the highest possible penalty to the main culprit – the prepetrator of the crime.
Otherwise, prosecute Jawaharlal Nehru for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi too! Or the CEO of NASA/US Government for the death of Kalpana Chawla and her colleagues.