Rlys must pay for injury/death of a bonafide passenger -Bombay High Court

MUMBAI: The railway administration has to pay compensation for injury or death of the passenger, even though it may not have been at any fault, the Bombay high court said on Wednesday.

The court directed Central Railway (CR) to pay Rs 4 lakh as compensation along with interest to the family of a Nagpur resident who was run over by a crowded train he was trying to board eight years ago.

Rejecting CR’s claim that it was not at fault as Bhagwan Tukdoji had died due to his own negligence, Justice A P Bhangale said that the doctrine of strict liability applies in such cases. “Question of finding as to upon whom the fault lies is irrelevant (and) the railway is bound to pay compensation to the claimants,” said Justice Bhangale.

CR contended that all passengers are told to come to the station at least 20 minutes before the arrival of a train. It further pointed out that passengers are informed that they should not try to board a moving train.

Under the Indian Railways Act, the railway administration is liable to pay compensation to passengers in the event of injury or death due to an untoward incident. The exceptions are when a passenger commits suicide, when his/her death occurs due to his/her own criminal act or when s/he is intoxicated or insane.

The incident dates back to June 11, 2005; Tukdoji was trying to board the crowded Nagpur-Bhusawal Express from Malkapur station. He fell down and was run over by the train. The railway accident claims tribunal asked CR to pay Tukdoji’s wife and two minor children a compensation of Rs 4 lakh. CR challenged this order, saying it was not to blame.

Referring to another judgment, CR said that “if a person (is injured or dies) trying to board or alight from the train, or stands near the door, jumps from the compartment, crosses the railway tracks or leans out of the compartment and falls, s/he is not entitled to compensation”. It denied that Tukdoji was a bona fide passenger, and claimed he committed suicide or died due to his negligence.

The court pointed out that a train ticket was recovered from the body which proved that he was a bona fide passenger and there was no evidence to show he committed suicide.