New Delhi: The Delhi high court took into account the rising inflation and reducing buying power of rupee to direct the Union government to revise the compensation paid to kin of victims of rail accidents.
There had been traditionally a disparity in compensation payable to kin of railway accident victims and those who die in air crash. A public interest litigation filed by Sethu Niket through advocate Esha Mazumdar told the HC that the compensation amount was fixed more than 15 years ago and hence warrants an urgent revision keeping in view the falling buying power of the rupee.
The petitioner had requested the HC to quash “Railway Accidents and Untoward Incident (Compensation) Rules, 1999 providing for Rs 4 lakh as maximum amount of compensation in case of death or permanent disability”.
Interestingly, more than a 100 years ago the Railways Act, 1890 had fixed responsibility for any death resulting from operation of railways and provided that the administration would be saddled with a maximum liability of Rs 10,000 for death. Mazumdar argued before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and R S Endlaw that though the compensation of Rs 4 lakh was determined in the year 1997, the central government had failed to revise it by amending the Rules taking into account the inflation and falling buying power of rupee.
The bench in its judgment said: “it is obligatory on the part of the Central government to update the amount of compensation taking into consideration the substantial change in the money value and the impact it has caused in the cost of living.”
“We, therefore, direct the Union of India to consider the issue of updating the upper limit of compensation prescribed under Rules 3 & $ of Compensation Rules and take appropriate steps in accordance with law,” the bench said.