The Kerala High Court has modified the compensation awarded to a man who sustained a bullet injury. The Court held that the incident took place because of the negligence of the employee of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) who used his weapon in an open space area.

While rejecting the claim of Railway, the Kerala High Court modified the amount of compensation claimed to be offered by the Railway at Rs.1.20 lacs to Rs.8.20 lacs along with interest at the rate of 9 per cent to be paid to the petitioner, considering his suffering and future needs.

Finding that the medical expert of the Board constituted by the Railway itself says that even presently the petitioner is suffering from health issues because of the gunshot injury and requires another surgery, a Single Judge Bench of Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan observed that “It is an admitted fact that the petitioner sustained a gunshot injury from the 4th respondent because of his negligence in using his weapon in an open space. The Railway filed a counter affidavit originally, stating that they are not ready to pay the compensation and the petitioner has to approach the Railway Claims Tribunal. Not a single penny has been paid by the Railway till now, even though the incident has been admitted”.

The Bench, therefore, asserted that the petitioner suffered a gunshot injury because of the negligence on the part of the fourth respondent, who is an employee of the Railway protection force.

Advocate A. Abdul Kharim appeared for the Petitioner whereas Advocate T.C. Govinda Swamy appeared for the Respondent.

The brief facts of the case were that the petitioner's wife had given birth to a premature baby girl who required treatment for eye issues in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. When the petitioner and his wife were at the Central Railway Station, on their way to the reservation counter, as they passed by the Railway Protection Force guard room, the petitioner was accidentally shot in the lower abdomen by the fourth respondent, who was on duty at the time. As a result of which the petitioner underwent major surgery to remove 25 centimetres of his small intestine and some bone fragments. The Railway admitted the incident but contested the matter.

After considering the submission, the Bench stated that the accidental shooting incident involving the petitioner did not meet the criteria of an "untoward incident”.

The Bench went on to explain the meaning of “untoward incident” as:

(1)(i) the commission of a terrorist act within the meaning of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987; or

(ii) the making of a violent attack or the commission of robbery or dacoity; or

(iii) the indulging in rioting, shoot-out or arson, 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; or

(2) the accidental falling of any passenger from a train carrying passengers.”

Therefore, the Bench observed that the present case is not subject to compensation through the Railway Claims Tribunal as per Sec. 125, and the writ petition remains maintainable.

The Bench in its finding stated that the Railway initially filed a counter affidavit, refusing to pay compensation and directing the petitioner to approach the Railway Claims Tribunal.

Despite admitting the incident and the fact that the petitioner suffered a gunshot injury due to the negligence of the fourth respondent, an employee of the Railway Protection Force, the Railway has not provided any compensation to the petitioner to date, noted the Bench

Accordingly, the High Court directed the respondent to make the payment to the petitioner expeditiously, within four months from the date of receiving a certified copy of the judgment.

Cause Title: Manaf v. Union of India and Ors.

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