19 May 2023 6:04 AM GMT
While discussing the provisions of the Railways Act, the Supreme Court has held that whenever any untoward incident happens occurs in the course of working of the railway, the Railway Administration is liable to compensate the passenger irrespective of whether there has been any wrongful act, neglect or default on the part of railway administration. When in the course of...
While discussing the provisions of the Railways Act, the Supreme Court has held that whenever any untoward incident happens occurs in the course of working of the railway, the Railway Administration is liable to compensate the passenger irrespective of whether there has been any wrongful act, neglect or default on the part of railway administration.
When in the course of working of 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 as such, would entitle a passenger who has been injured or died. The claim can be maintained to recover the damages, and notwithstanding anything contained in any other law the Railway is liable to pay compensation as prescribed for such untoward incident.
The bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice JK Maheshwari also reiterated the law laid down in an earlier decision, where the court held that the mere absence of a ticket on the injured or deceased will not negative the claim that he was a bona fide passenger.
In the present case, the appeals were filed by the family of a deceased man who had fallen from a running train due to a heavy crowd and sustained grave injuries including decapitation and amputation of his right hand. The man had died on the spot. The High Court had dismissed an appeal filed by the family and agreed with the finding of the claims tribunal that the deceased was not a bona fide passenger.
The court noted that the FIR, inquest report, post-mortem report, and final report clearly revealed that the deceased had fallen from down from the train, which decapitated him and amputated his right hand leading to excessive blood loss due to which he died on the spot. The court also noted that even as per the investigation report submitted by the Southern Railway as per Rule 7(2) of the Railway Passengers (Manner of Investigation of Untoward Incidents) Rules 2003, the occurrence of an untoward incident had not been denied and the only stand taken by the railways was that the deceased was not a bona fide passenger.
Thus, the court opined that the Claims Tribunal and the High Court had made their findings without considering the documents of the investigation and the final report which made the findings perverse and liable to be set aside.
With respect to whether the deceased was a bona fide passenger, the court noted that the son of the deceased had clearly deposed that he had purchased a train ticket for travel and handed it over to the deceased. The same was reiterated during cross-examination and also found support in the inquest report and the investigation report.
The court was of the view that the initial burden had been discharged and the onus was on the Railway Administration to disprove the fact. The court also noted that nothing had been brought on record to show that the Railway had discharged the burden and thus, the Railway Administration was liable to pay compensation.
While deciding the amount of compensation, the court took note of the fact that the Compensation Rules were amended after the date of the accident and filing of the claim petition and so the amount of compensation had to be based on the amended rules. Thus, the court enhanced the compensation and directed the authorities to pay an amount of Rs 8 lakh.
Case Title: Kamukayi and ors v. Union of India and Ors
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 449
Case No: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3799 OF 2023 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 17062/2022)