Death or injury while boarding or de-boarding a train is an “untoward incident” which entitles a passenger to compensation and will not be considered his negligence, the Supreme Court held. It also said that mere presence of a body on the railway premises would not be conclusive to hold that the injured or deceased was a “bona fide passenger” for seeking compensation.
The apex court, however, clarified that the absence of ticket will not negate the compensation and the onus will be on claimant to prove his case by providing requisite documents.
“We hold that death or injury in the course of boarding or de-boarding a train will be an ‘untoward incident’ entitling a victim to the compensation and will not fall under the proviso to Section 124A (suicide, self-inflicted injury) merely on the plea of negligence of the victim as a contributing factor,” a bench comprising justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Rohinton F Nariman said.
“The initial burden will be on the claimant which can be discharged by filing an affidavit of the relevant facts and the burden will then shift on the railways and the issue can be decided on the facts shown or the attending circumstances. This will have to be dealt with from case to case on the basis of facts found,” it said.
The judgement came on an appeal filed by the Centre which had approached the apex court against Patna High Court order awarding a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the wife of a person who fell down from a train due to rush of passengers and died on the spot on August 20, 2002.
The high court had set aside the railway tribunal’s order by taking into consideration the statement of an eye witness who had filed an affidavit stating that the deceased had purchased the ticket and had boarded the train.
The tribunal had dismissed the claim on the ground that it was not a case of “untoward incident” but a case of “run over” and that the deceased was not a bona fide passenger.
The woman had claimed that the deceased had purchased a ticket of second class for for a journey from Karauta to Khusrupur and he fell down from the train due to rush of passengers and died on the spot. She had also contended that the ticket was not recovered from the possession of the deceased as it might have been lost somewhere.
One of the passengers, who witnessed the deceased purchasing the ticket and boarding the train, had filed an affidavit.