15 July 2024


High Court of Madras

B. Rajyalakshmi and Ors. Vs.The Union of India Owning Southern Railway




Burden of proving that, victim is not a bona fide passenger lies on Railways

In facts of present case, according to Appellant, the deceased used to travel in train by purchasing II class ticket and that they came to know from the Railway Police, that the deceased while travelling in one of the train, due to over crowd, jerk and jolt of the train, accidentally fell down from the running train, suffered grievous injuries and died on the spot. A case was registered under Section 174 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) According to the Appellants, the II class ticket purchased by the deceased was said to have been lost and the same could not be retrieved by police. The claimants filed their claim petition claiming a compensation of Rs. 4,00,000/- (Rupees four lakhs only) for the death of deceased. The Tribunal, dismissed the claim petition stating that, the claimants have not produced the train ticket and established that the victim was a bona fide passenger. Only issue involved in the present appeal is whether the non-production of the ticket by the claimant is fatal to their case.

In Union of India v. Prabhakaran Vijayakumar and others, the Supreme Court, held that, it is well settled that, if the words used in a beneficial or welfare statute are capable of two constructions, the one which is more in consonance with the object of the Act and for the benefit of the person for whom the Act was made should be preferred. Beneficial or welfare statutes should be given a liberal and not literal or strict interpretation.

The claimants have filed the claim petition without producing the ticket purchased by the victim. In the judgments relied upon by the learned counsel appearing for the Appellants it has been held that, it is not possible for the legal representatives to produce the ticket or valid authority, who travelled in the train, and the burden of proving that the deceased-victim was not a bona fide passenger is on the Railways and not on the claimants.

The Apex Court as well as present Court had repeatedly held that, the burden of proving that the victim is not a bona fide passenger lies on the Railways and that non-production of Railway ticket is not fatal to the case of the claimants. Therefore, the Tribunal should not have dismissed the petition on that ground. The judgments relied upon by the learned counsel appearing for the appellants squarely applies to the facts and circumstances of the present case.

In present, circumstances, the order passed by the Railway Claims Tribunal, is set aside and the matter is remitted back to the Tribunal for fresh consideration. The Tribunal is directed to decide the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants afresh and pass orders, on merits and in accordance with law, within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment. Appeal allowed.


Union of India (UOI) vs. Prabhakaran Vijaya Kumar and Ors.MANU/SC/7608/2008

Tags : Bona fide Burden of proof Compensation

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