A month after the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station, seven victims have approached the Railway Claims Tribunal seeking compensation. All seven sustained injuries in the stampede on September 29. The incident claimed 23 lives and left 37 others injured, of whom five had grievous injuries.
According to officials at the tribunal, the compensation suit has been filed under Section 124 A of the Railways Act, 1989. The provisions of the Act state that if an ‘untoward incident’ occurs, compensation shall be payable to the injured or the kin of the dead. The official said the claims had been received from October 12 and the process of issuing notices to the General Manager, Western Railway, had been initiated. On Monday, the tribunal listed the case for filing of written statement.
The incident had occurred on a railway foot overbridge (FOB) and it is considered the responsibility of the railway authorities to ensure the safety of its passengers entering and exiting station premises. The seven injured persons are Reshma Kadam, Navaj Shrivastava, Sheikh Wasim Nazir, Prahlad Kanojiya, Jyosna Rufukiya, Sunil Mishra and Asha Pimpale and they have claimed compensation of up to Rs 7 lakh each.
An official of the Western Railway (WR) said to assist the victims, an information camp had been set up. “The victims and their kin were explained the entire process of compensation and the documents they will need before the tribunal. They were also given the compensation forms,” the official said. The official added that since the claimants were private individuals, they had the option of approaching the tribunal through advocates but all assistance was provided to them to file the claims by themselves.
An official from the tribunal said so far, all claims have been directly made by victims without an advocate and since the kin of those who lost their lives are yet to receive documents, including post-mortem reports, a copy of the panchnama, they have not been able to approach the tribunal yet.
“We have forwarded all relevant documents to the collector’s office as well as WR officials. I am not aware if anyone is facing delay in receiving the documents,” said Rajiv Jain, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone V). A senior Claims Official from the WR said they are yet to receive notices issued by the tribunal. “Once the notices are received, a working report will be prepared by the Western Railway on the incident for submission before the tribunal. The report will be based on the investigation into the incident, including documents and witnesses. Based on the information sent by the Government Railway Police to the Railway Protection Force, the Divisional Regional Manager puts together the working report,” the official said.
After the incident, each victim was given an “ex gratia” compensation of Rs 5 lakh by the state government and the WR. In addition to that, each victim is entitled to legally seek upto Rs 8 lakh under the Railways Act. The WR can contest the claim made before the tribunal as well as the amount sought. The criteria of awarding compensation includes the age of the victim, salary, number of dependents and in case of injury, the extent of disability.
The Registrar of the Tribunal had earlier said special arrangement would be made to expedite the hearing on the compensation claims of the stampede victims by prioritising the hearings. With a pendency of over 6,000 cases and a disposal rate of around 100 cases per month, the tribunal is hearing of claims dating back to 2011.