30 Jun 2023 3:30 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently awarded compensation to parents of a train accident victim who had gotten out of his train due to fire in the bogie and died after getting hit by another train on the adjacent track.Justice MS Jawalkar of the Nagpur bench observed that the deceased and other passengers would not have had to get down from the train if not for the fire and smoke in the...
The Bombay High Court recently awarded compensation to parents of a train accident victim who had gotten out of his train due to fire in the bogie and died after getting hit by another train on the adjacent track.
Justice MS Jawalkar of the Nagpur bench observed that the deceased and other passengers would not have had to get down from the train if not for the fire and smoke in the bogie.
“…it cannot be said that there is any negligence on the part of deceased. If there would not have been any incident of hot excel and smoke in the bogie, the passengers could not have required to board down from the train in the middle of journey, where there was no any platform”, the court observed.
The court set aside order of the Railway Claims Tribunal denying compensation on the ground that the deceased was not a bonafide passenger and the incident was not an untoward incident as per the Railways Act, 1989.
The court further observed that there is no condition in section 124-A (compensation on account of untoward incident) of the Railways Act that only a person who falls down from a train, and not a person standing on the track, can claim compensation.
One Dilip Rajak was travelling from Bokaro to Secunderabad with a friend in Darbhanga-Secunderabad Express. When the train was passing Makodi railway station, suddenly there was a fire and smoke in the bogie. The passengers after pulling the alarm chain alighted from the bogie and got on the adjacent track. Suddenly, another train Himsagar Express came on the track and hit Rajak, who died. The parents of the deceased filed a claim for compensation before the Railway Claims Tribunal.
The loco pilot of Himsagar Express testified that he continuously blew the horn, and all the passengers except the deceased moved from the track.
Jaikishan Singh, friend and co-passenger of the deceased, testified that they were travelling in the general bogie of Darbhanga-Secunderabad Express with a valid ticket. He testified that the deceased purchased two valid tickets for them.
The Railway Claims Tribunal held that since ticket was not recovered from the deceased, the claimants did discharge the prima facie burden of proof that he was a bonafide passenger. Further, the tribunal held that his death was not as a result of an untoward accident. Therefore, the claimants filed the present appeal.
The court opined that as the deceased was dashed by a running train, it is possible that the ticket got lost in the incident. The court held that the initial burden of proof was discharged by the claimants by examining the friend of the deceased.
“Initial burden is discharged by examining the co-passengers of the deceased that they were holding valid ticket…the ticket may have lost during the accident, as he was dashed by running train. As such, the order passed by learned Tribunal is liable to be set aside”, the court held.
There is no case of suicide, self-inflicted injury, criminal act by the deceased, or a claim that the deceased was under intoxication, the court noted. Thus, the court held that the Railway totally failed to establish that this incident is covered by exception to section 124-A and was not an untoward incident.
The court set aside the tribunal’s order and directed the central government to pay Rs. 8 lakhs to the claimants within 3 months along with 6% interest since the date of filing of the claim application till the final payment.
Case no. – First Appeal No. 57 of 2023
Case Title – Dhaneshwar Rajak S/o Gula Rajak and Anr. v. Union of India
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