Once Initial Burden Of Having Valid Ticket By Deceased Stands Discharged, Railway Administration Is Liable To Compensate In Case Of Untoward Incident: SC
Noticing that nothing was placed before the Claims Tribunal or brought on record during the course of the hearing that the Railway Administration has discharged the burden of not having the valid railway ticket with the deceased passenger, except to say that during recovery ticket was not found, the Supreme Court observed that the Railway Administration shall be liable to pay compensation as prescribed.
Referring to the provisions contained in Section 124A of Railways Act and Railway Accidents and Untoward Incidents (Compensation) Rules, 1990, a Two Judge Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.K Maheshwari observed that “it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that deceased Muchamy @ Muthusamy died in an untoward incident which took place on 27.9.2014 while travelling in a passenger Train No. 5684 and he was a bona fide passenger”.
Advocate Senthil Jagadeesan appeared for the Appellant, whereas, Advocate Amrish Kumar appeared for the Respondent.
Going by the background of the case, the deceased while on a journey for medical treatment to Government Hospital, Karur, unexpectedly fell from the running train between the platform and track and sustained grave injuries including decapitation and amputation of the right hand and died on the spot. The report revealed that the death of the deceased was an outcome of an untoward railway incident, and the post-mortem indicated that the cause of death was due to shock and hemorrhage because of injuries on vital organs and decapitation of the head. The Railway claims Tribunal, dismissed the claim application holding that the Appellants have failed to prove the death of the deceased in an untoward incident and he was not a bona fide passenger. This finding of the Tribunal was upheld by the High Court. Hence, the Appellant approached the Apex Court.
After considering the submissions, the Apex Court observed that when an untoward incident occurs in the course of working of railway, 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 Apex Court further observed that such a 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 an untoward incident.
On perusal of the allegations of the FIR, inquest report, final report, and the investigation report prepared under Rule 7 of the Rules, 2003, the Bench observed that the allegation regarding an untoward incident is fully established and supported by the testimony of the son of the deceased, and therefore, the findings recorded in this regard by the Claims Tribunal and the High Court are perverse.
The Bench further highlighted that the initial burden that the deceased passenger having a valid ticket has been discharged the onus was on the Railway Administration to disprove the said fact.
Accordingly, the Apex Court held the Appellants were entitled to compensation to the tune of Rs. 4,00,000/- along with interest @ 7% p.a. from the date of filing the claim application till its realization.
Cause Title: Kamukayi and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors.