A person holding a season ticket is a bonafide "passenger," for the purpose of claiming compensation under the Railway Act 1989 even in the absence of an identity card, the Bombay High Court has held.
The Court said that the Ministry's instructions to consider a passenger who failed to produce an ID card along with his season ticket a ticketless traveller, were not mandatory.
Justice Sandeep K Shinde thus set aside an order of the Railways Claims Tribunal dated 17th March, 2009, and directed the Railway Claims Tribunal to grant the appellant, who fell of the train 18 years ago, Rs. 3 lakh compensation after verifying medical evidence.
The appellant, Harish Damodar said he had fallen from the train on January 25, 2004, around 5 pm, at Dadar station due to heavy rush. Subsequently, he underwent six surgeries to his spine and pelvis at Sion Hospital. He claimed compensation of Rs. 4 lakhs.
The tribunal rejected his claim on two counts:
First, that Damodar was not a "bonafide passenger", despite carrying a valid 'Pass' (season ticket) and journey extension tickets because in the absence of an identity card, season ticket could not have been held valid, therefore he was a ticketless traveller.
Second, that he had suffered due to his own negligence as the Station Master's memo claimed he was hit by a train while at the edge of the platform. Therefore, there was no "untoward incident" within the meaning of Section 123(c) of the Act of 1989.
The appellant assailed this order before the Bombay High Court. The Railways relied on certain instructions from the Ministry according to which production of an ID card along with the season ticket was mandatory, failing which a commuter would be treated as a ticketless traveller.
However, Justice Shinde said that the instructions cannot be said to be mandatory, therefore the seasoned ticket was not invalid. Therefore, unless the passenger was using a season ticket issued in someone else's name, a proper season ticket without an identity card, ipso-facto, would not render season ticket invalid or the passenger a ticketless traveller.
Regarding observations about the passenger's "self-inflicted injuries", the High Court found the Station Master's testimony to be hearsay as he hadn't seen the accident first hand and claimed that an unknown person had informed him about Damodar being hit by a train.
"In view of these facts and evidence on record, the finding recorded by the Tribunal, that appellant had not sustained injuries in "untoward incident", but suffered "self-inflicted injuries", is erroneous and therefore quashed and set aside."
The High Court directed the man to appear before the tribunal on June 10 and a decision on the compensation to be taken by July 31, 2022.
Case Title : Harish Chandra Damodar vs UOI
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 196
Appearances – Advocate Mohammed Husain for the appellant.
Advocate T.J. Pandian a/w. Dheer Sampat for the respondent.