Questioning if people should ‘submit’ to robbers, the Bombay High Court on Thursday pulled up the Railways for calling the action of a woman, who was fighting off a robbery attempt in a moving train, an “unnecessary risk”.
Bhavika K Mehta was travelling from Amritsar to Mumbai Central on June 5, 2012 when a robber attempted to pull her purse from under her while she was asleep. Startled, she chased the robber and while she held on to the purse, the robber pulled it from the other side. The robber, to save himself caught hold of her hands and jumped off the train resulting in Bhavika falling from the running train. Bhavika’s left leg was caught under the train and had to be amputated. Her father and brother also jumped off the train and sustained injuries.
“Instead of praising her brave conduct you (railways) are saying that she took unnecessary risk. She was trying to face the robbers alone. We take strong objection to use of such language. Are you trying to say that people should submit to robbers? What else can you draw from this?” Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari observed.
“The RPF must always be present in the compartments. Why should we not take this as breach of Article 21 (right to life)? She was endangered as no arrangement was made by you at night,” the court said. The family has maintained that at the relevant time no RPF personnel was available for protection nor any Railway personnel was there to give her first aid.
Bhavika was taken to Ambala Civil Hospital where only first aid was provided, but since there was no facility she was taken to PGI Hospital at Chandigarh. She was then brought to Mumbai to a private Hospital at Mulund (W).
Her lawyer Uday Warunjikar alleged that no Railway officer visited her. “The Railways failed to provide appropriate medical treatment. We want them to reimburse medical expenses and provide further balance treatment,” Warunjikar submitted.
The Railways have already paid Rs 9.5 lakh to the petitioner who incurred a total cost of Rs 16.96 lakh thereafter, the petition said.
The lawyer of the Railways maintained that the victim went to a private hospital and did not approach them and her life was more precious than anything else. The HC then asked him to file an affidavit in reply, pertaining to the remaining amount due to the family as medical expenses, by next Thursday.