Rail tribunal steps in to fast-track relief payment to victims of derailments and train accidents.
NEW DELHI: The Railway Claims Tribunal Principal Bench in New Delhi has taken suo motu cognizance of three major derailments recently in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and filed cases for claims in a first such order.
Departing from established norms, it has ordered its zonal benches to register cases, where the claimants live instead of piling up cases on local benches under whose jurisdiction the accidents have taken place. The order has paved way for immediate release of compensation by setting an upper limit of six weeks for hearings. As per records, the process of realisation of claims usually takes up to four years, thanks to legal tangles.
But after this order, all that the local benches now need to do is verify that a claimant appearing before it is the same person mentioned in the official accident report, a job that should not take more than one hearing. According to the Tribunal, the Railways has identified all the victims.
The Tribunal has cut out the need for lawyers and legal processes by asking local benches to help applicants free of cost. As a result, the process of trials and recording of oral evidences will now be done away with.
The order was conveyed to the Railway Ministry earlier this week for compliance.
As many as 150 people had died in a rail accident near Kanpur. Over 60 people were injured in another accident near Allahabad. In a derailment near Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh, nearly 40 people were killed and 30 injured.
The Tribunal passed the order to negate possibility of victims and their families being duped by middlemen. In certain cases, even lawyers, according to information with the Tribunal, dupe or harass claimants by unnecessarily delaying cases. This is because from the date of the filing of a claim, Railways counts six per cent interest over and above the compensation amount.
Currently, the Railways gives Rs 8 lakh to families of each deceased and those who have suffered permanent disability. Those with other kinds of injuries are paid lower amounts. “The date of hearing shall be fixed not later than six weeks from the date of issue of notices and on being served, the additional registrar/assistant, registrar of the respective benches shall themselves offer assistance to the applicants….,” the order said.
A racket of lawyers and middlemen often dupe victims and families by delaying the process for years. As a result, the Railways is used to giving out hefty interests.