Mumbai Liability of the railways is based on the “no-fault theory” and therefore railway accident claims cannot be rejected on the ground of “contributory negligence” of the deceased, the Bombay high court (HC) observed recently and allowed the claim of Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh.
“The liability of railway is based on “no-fault theory,” said single judge bench of justice MS Karnik while allowing accident claim filed by family members of one Roshanlal Tembhare, who had died in a railway accident at Amgaon railway station in Gondia district of Vidarbha region.
“The principle of contributory negligence cannot be invoked in such case,” the court said in the April 28 order which became available on Friday, May 13, and reversed the January 23, 2019 order of the Nagpur Railway Accident Claims Tribunal, rejecting the family’s claim on the ground that the deceased had died due to his own negligent act – in trying to alight from a running train.
The incident in question took place on November 22, 2017, when the deceased was travelling from Raipur to Gondia by Howrah – Mumbai mail and died due to falling from the running train at Amgaon railway station.
After the family of the deceased filed the accident claim, the railways claimed that the deceased died due to his own negligence and examined the guard of the train in support of their claim. The guard claimed that he had seen the deceased jumping from the running train as the train slowed down at Amgaon railway station, though the train had no scheduled halt there.
The tribunal accepted the railway’s stand and held that it was not an untoward accident, as the deceased died due to a fall while making an unsuccessful attempt to jump from the running train which had no scheduled stoppage at Amgaon Railway Station.
Justice Karnik reversed the verdict and directed the South East Central Railway to deposit with the tribunal the compensation of ₹8 lakh to be paid to the family of the deceased – ₹4 lakh to the parents of the deceased and ₹4 lakh to his minor daughter.
The single-judge bench said it was not the Railway’s case that this is a case of suicide or attempt to commit suicide. “At the highest, it is a case of the deceased trying to de-board a train which had slowed down at the railway station resulting in his death which will have to be regarded as an ‘untoward incident’ entitling the victim to the compensation,” said the court. “The case will not fall under the proviso to Section 124-A of the Railways Act, 1989 (which lays down exceptional situations in which compensation is not payable to railway accident victims or their family members), merely on the plea of the negligence of the victim as a contributory factor.”