25 March 2021 10:35 AM GMT
Admonishing the Railway Authorities for thier failure to provide adequate safety measures, more specifically, in EMU trains, the Madras High Court recently ordered compensation of ₹8 lakh (along with 6% interest) to the family of a woman who died in the year 2014 as she was traveling in an EMU. Ordering thus, the Bench of Justice SM Subramanian overruled the railway tribunal's...
Admonishing the Railway Authorities for thier failure to provide adequate safety measures, more specifically, in EMU trains, the Madras High Court recently ordered compensation of ₹8 lakh (along with 6% interest) to the family of a woman who died in the year 2014 as she was traveling in an EMU.
Ordering thus, the Bench of Justice SM Subramanian overruled the railway tribunal's order which had denied the compensation to her family members in the year 2016 noting that she was not a bonafide passenger and further the she committed an act of negligence.
Significantly, the Bench held,
"Only in the event of a criminal act or self-inflicted injury with an intention can be attributed against the victim as contemplated under Section 124(A) of the Railways Act. In all other circumstances, mere negligence or carelessness cannot be a ground to deny the compensation."
Facts in brief
The application sought compensation on the ground that the deceased, who was a native of Kamanpatti Village of Dindigul District, while traveling in a train proceeding towards Chennai Beach Railway Station, due to overcrowd, speed, jerk, and a jolt of the train, accidentally fell down from the running train between Kodambakkam and Nungambakkam Railway Stations, suffered grievous injury on the back of the head and died at the place of occurrence.
It was claimed that it was an untoward incident and the second-class ticket purchased by the deceased for her travel from Dindigul to Chennai Egmore was said to have been lost at the time of the accident and the same could not be traced by the Railway Police.
The Counsel appearing for the respondent Railway made a submission that the accident occurred due to negligence on the part of the deceased and further she was not holding a valid ticket.
At the outset, the Court noted that the untoward incident occurred on account of heavy rush in the running train and that the deceased sustained shock and died due to hemorrhage because of multiple injuries.
The DRM report also revealed that the deceased aged about 38 years had fallen down from an unknown EMU Train and expired on the spot, while she was traveling in an unknown EMU train between MKK and NBK Railway Stations.
In response to the railway's plea that she was herself negligent, the Court said,
"After duty hours, a Large number of women are forced to rush to board in EMU trains to reach their homes within a reasonable travel time…With this pressure, a greater number of women/travelers are forced to trave1 by standing in EMU trains."
The Court further opined,
"Adequate safety measures are not provided, more specifically, in EMU trains. Railway Authorities are bound to provide safety measures to the passengers, more specifically, working-class passengers, who are all traveling on a day-to-day basis and while returning back from work, they will be either tired or under pressure to reach their home quickly."
Further, the Court also observed that a large number of untoward incidents are not teaching any lesson to the Railway Authorities to formulate a scheme to improve the safety measures in EMU Trains.
"It is painful to state that the higher officials of the Indian Railways are receiving very decent salaries from the taxpayers' money. Therefore, they are expected to perform their public duties with high responsibility and accountability", the Court added.
Significantly, the Court also remarked,
"'Nation first' must be the conduct of the higher officials. Higher Officials are enjoying very sophisticated and luxurious facilities even in Railways… a Large number of passengers are suffering even for minimum facilities and adequate security in running trains."
In the end, the Court remarked that mere negligence or carelessness cannot be a ground to decline compensation to the victims.
Importantly, the Court said,
"Railways are also equally contributing for such negligence by not providing adequate security for the passengers traveling in EMU trains and other trains. Thus, contributory negligence also plays a pivotal role."
Case title - J.Sivakumar v. Union of India [C.M.A.No.1315 of 2016]
Click Here To Download Judgment