Death of a passenger due to falling down while trying to enter into a train, compensable under Section 124A of Railways Act; Patna HC

Death of a passenger due to falling down while trying to enter into a train, compensable under Section 124A of Railways Act; Patna HC

Patna High Court has held that death of a passenger due to falling down while trying to enter into train, is compensable under Section 124A of Railways Act.

Justice Aditya Kumar Trivedi in Juweda Khatoon vs Union of India, referring to an Apex Court Judgment, said that Railways Act being a beneficial piece of legislation should receive a liberal and wider interpretation and not a narrow and technical one.

The Law

123 (c) (2) of Railways Act defines “untoward incident” as“the accidental falling of any passenger from a train carrying passengers.”

 Section 124A. Compensation on account of untoward incident.—When in the course of working a railway an untoward incident occurs, then whether or not there has been any wrongful act, neglect or default on the part of the railway administration such as would entitle a passenger who has been injured or the dependant of a passenger who has been killed to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the railway administration shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, be liable to pay compensation to such extent as may be prescribed and to that extent only for loss occasioned by the death of, or injury to, a passenger as a result of such untoward incident:

Context

The dependant of the deceased passenger who fell down while trying to enter into a railway train had appealed to High court against the Railway Tribunal rejecting his application claiming compensation.

Liberal interpretation required

The High Court referred to Union of India vs. Prabhakaran Vijaya Kumar and others wherein it was held thus “if we adopt a restrictive meaning to the expression 'accidental falling of a passenger from a train carrying passengers' in Section 123(c) of the Railways Act, we will be depriving a large number of railway passengers from getting compensation in railway accidents. It is well known that in our country there are crores of people who travel by railway trains since everybody cannot afford traveling by air or in a private car. By giving a restrictive and narrow meaning to the expression we will be depriving a large number of victims of train accidents (particularly poor and middle class people) from getting compensation under the Railways Act. Hence, in our opinion, the expression 'accidental falling of a passenger from a train carrying passengers' includes accidents when a bona fide passenger i.e. a passenger traveling with a valid ticket or pass is trying to enter into a railway train and falls down during the process. In other words, a purposive, and not literal, interpretation should be given to the expression.”

Read the Judgment here.