“If a person falls and suffers injuries while trying to board an overcrowded train, compensation will have to be paid by the Railways. Such incidents will fall within the ambit of an “untoward incident”,” observed the Bombay High Court (HC).
Local trains are known to be the lifeline of Mumbai with a huge number of the city’s inhabitants relying on them to get to work and other destinations at some point of time.
A single bench of Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing to a plea filed by a 75-year-old man who suffered injuries to his leg after falling of an overcrowded train. The HC has directed the Western Railways (WR) to pay INR 3 lakhs.
Arguing to this order, WR said that the case did not fall under the provisions of section 124(A) of the Railways Act, which states that compensation has to be paid in cases of untoward incidents. It claimed that the petitioner, Nitin Hundiwala, had tried to board a moving train.
However, Justice Dangre refused to accept the Railways’ argument and noted that the present case clearly fell within the situation covered by “untoward incident” as per section 124(A) of the Act.
A copy of the order dated April 12 was made available on Tuesday, April 26.
If in daily chores, a passenger attempts to gain entry into an overcrowded train and is pushed by other passengers, resulting in his or her fall, then there is no reason why such an incident cannot fall within the ambit of an untoward incident, the order stated.
It is not an unknown fact that Mumbaikars commute daily to undertake risk at some point of time, in order to reach their destination on time. This city, which is affordable and convenient, this calculated risk cannot surely amount to a criminal act, Justice Dangre shared.
The order further stated that the purpose of section 124(A) of the Railways Act was to provide speedy remedy to an injured passenger or to the dependents of a deceased passenger involved in an untoward incident.
He also mentioned that this provision of the Act cannot be stretched to deny compensation to a person who may act callously or imprudently at times.
In the plea filed by victim, he stated that the incident he had boarded an overcrowded train from Dadar railway station. He was pushed by the crowd in the compartment and since he was standing on the edge, he lost his balance and fell from the moving train, and suffered injuries to his head and leg.
He claimed that till date he is suffering due to the accident and has difficulty while walking and lifting heavy things.
Hundiwala had filed an appeal in the high court challenging an order passed by the Railway Claims Tribunal in July 2013, rejecting his claim for compensation of INR 4 lakh from the Western Railways on account of the injuries he suffered in November 2011 after he fell off a crowded local train.
The Railways Tribunal had rejected his claim after accepting the Western Railways’ argument that Hundiwala had tried to board a moving train, which is an imprudent and criminal act on his part and hence, the same cannot be termed as an untoward incident.