Mumbai: Ministry fails to find suitable candidates for the Mumbai forum; people seeking accident claims left in the lurch. Several people wanting to file accident compensation claims have been left in the lurch as the railway accident claims tribunal in Mumbai – the country’s largest – has been without a judge for over a couple of months.
The railway ministry has been unable to decide on a suitable candidate to fill up one of the two posts – Member (Technical) – ever since the last incumbent, S Ananthanarayanan, retired on September 5 this year.
This tribunal is a legal forum which hands out compensation to accident victims. Presently, the Mumbai bench of the tribunal has a backlog of close to 4,000 cases. On an average, it sees between 12 and 14 accident claims being filed every day. Every year, it awards over Rs70 crore by way of compensation – overshadowing other benches of the tribunal across the nation.
Terming the situation ‘unfortunate’, a senior railway official that the lack of judges at this “very important arm of the railway system “will only add to the hardship of compensation claimants many of who live in the hinterland of Maharashtra and Gujarat over which the Mumbai bench has jurisdiction.
In terms of organisational structure, the tribunal generally has two judges — a member (technical) and a member (judicial). While the member (technical) is a retired railway official well versed with technical aspects and working of the railways, the member (Judicial) is a person from the judicial services. For the past couple of years, the Mumbai bench of the tribunal has been functioning with only the member (technical). After September 5, it has none.
This vacuum at the top, said officials, has crippled the tribunal’s drive to weed out fraudulent claims. This newspaper had reported on September 7 this year that the tribunal had, for the first time, asked the Central Railway authorities to file police complaints against those who had made fraudulent claims in case of accidents. It was noticed that in case of a death on railway premises, people masquerading as ‘relatives’ of the deceased person would file for claims from the railways, especially if the deceased person had no relatives in the city.
The impersonator gave a fictitious address and would appear only in the tribunal to pick up the compensation cheque. To thwart this fraudulent practice, the tribunal decided to send the cheques to the address of the claimant as this would doubly ensure that the ‘relative’ could be tracked down in future.
Railway accident claims tribunal in Mumbai — the country’s largest — has a backlog of close to
On an average, it sees between 12 and 14 accident claims being filed every day.