23 Oct 2022 3:18 PM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently held that theft can be considered a 'violent attack' under Section 123(c)(1)(ii) of the Railways Act, even if it's not specifically mentioned under the 'untoward incident' definition, in a situation where the passenger falls down and gets injured while running after a thief in a train."The fact that a thief snatches the mobile of a bona fide passenger and runs...
The Bombay High Court recently held that theft can be considered a 'violent attack' under Section 123(c)(1)(ii) of the Railways Act, even if it's not specifically mentioned under the 'untoward incident' definition, in a situation where the passenger falls down and gets injured while running after a thief in a train.
"The fact that a thief snatches the mobile of a bona fide passenger and runs and is able to jump off the train well in time before the platform ends, although unfortunately the passenger who runs behind him alights the train just after the platform is ending and falls down, injures himself, in my view may also be considered a violent attack or an attempt to commit robbery or dacoity in a train carrying passengers or within the precincts of the Railway premises and be an untoward incident in that sense."
Justice Abhay Ahuja of the Nagpur bench granted a compensation of Rs. 8 lakh to the appellant who had appealed against Railway Claims Tribunal's rejection of his compensation application after he got injured while pursuing a thief who had snatched his mobile phone on a train.
The appellant was travelling in a local train. When the train left Cotton Green railway station, a thief snatched his mobile phone and ran away. The appellant tried to alight the train behind the thief. However, the train had reached the slope of the platform and the appellant fell down from the train and got injured.
The Railway Claims Tribunal rejected his compensation application stating that the act of the appellant was "totally imprudent, irrational, callous, and unmindful of the consequences". The tribunal held that the appellant was not involved in an untoward incident and it was a self-inflicted injury. Hence the appellant approached the High Court.
The court perused Section 123(c)(1)(ii) of the Railways Act, 1989 which provides that an untoward incident includes violent attack by any person on any train carrying passengers or any place within the precinct of the railway station.
The court noted that the word 'theft' is not specifically mentioned in the provision. However, wide and liberal interpretation has to be given as the Railways Act is a beneficial legislation, said the court.
Hence, if a person falls down and gets injured while running after a thief in a train, it can be considered a violent attack and an untoward incident, the court opined.
"An untoward incident would also mean the making of a violent attack or the commission of a robbery or dacoity by any person in or on any train carrying passengers or in a waiting hall, cloakroom or reservation or booking office or on any platform, or in any other place within the precincts of a railway station," it said.
The court said that any ordinary normal person's reaction would be to run towards the thief and try to recover the mobile if someone suddenly snatches the mobile in a train.
It considered a situation in which it was a simple road or a platform instead of a train and said that any normal person would have run after the thief and try to recover his mobile.
The court said that it would be "too fantastic" to presume that the person was "imprudent or irrational or callous or unmindful of the consequences" if he falls down while pursuing the thief.
"No person running after a thief to recover the possession stolen away from the person can be said to have an intention to inflict injury upon oneself. The only intention that the person running after the thief would have is to somehow or the other recover the possession stolen by the thief. No rational or prudent person would do anything other than what the Appellant did."
The court said the Tribunal was wrong when it said that appellant was totally imprudent or irrational.
"When your mind has only one single focus that is to somehow or the other recover your possession, how can the person said to be unmindful of the consequences. It was simply unintentional and accidental", the court added.
Holding that Tribunal erred in dismissing the claim for compensation, the court said, "This definitely cannot be said to be a case of self inflicted injury. The Appellant while attempting to recover his mobile from the thief, ran after him and while trying to do so, fell from the train at such a point of the platform, where there was a slope and then got himself injured as described in the discharge summary. When there is no intention to harm oneself, it cannot be said to be a case of self inflicted injury."
The court set aside the judgement of the tribunal and directed the Railway authorities to pay the compensation to the appellant within four weeks.
Case no. – First Appeal No. 170 of 2022
Case title – Narendra S/o Chuhadram Sharma v. Union of India
Citation- 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 406
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