New Delhi: If a passenger falls on the track while boarding a moving train and is killed the railways is liable to pay compensation to the victim’s family even though there was no fault on its part, the Supreme Court held on Monday.
Giving this ruling, a Bench of Justice H.K. Sema and Justice Markandey Katju said: “In our opinion, if we adopt a restrictive meaning to the expression ‘accidental falling of a passenger’ from a train in Section 123(c) of the Railways Act, we will be depriving a large number of railway passengers of compensation in railway accidents.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Katju said: “It is well known that in our country there are crores of people who travel by railway trains since everybody cannot afford travel by air or in a private car. By giving a restrictive and narrow meaning to the expression we will be depriving a large number of victims of train accidents (particularly poor and middle class people) from getting compensation under the Railways Act.”
The Bench said: “In our opinion, the expression ‘accidental falling of a passenger’ from a train carrying passengers includes accidents when a bona fide passenger i.e. a passenger travelling with a valid ticket or pass is trying to enter into a railway train and falls down during the process.”
A claim petition was filed before the Railway Claims Tribunal, Ernakulam Bench by the husband, Prabhakaran Vijayakumar, of one Abja who died on May 23, 1996 in an accident at Varkala Railway station. The Tribunal disallowed the claim, but the Kerala High Court awarded Rs. 2 lakh compensation with 12 per cent interest. The Union of India filed an appeal.
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