22 July 2024


High Court of Delhi

Rajbir Singh and Ors. Vs. Union of India




Once deceased with valid train ticket is found on railway track, which is not near place of residence or work, onus of proof shifts upon railway to show that, deceased was not a bonafide passenger

In facts of the case, the deceased, Appellants' son, while travelling by train accidently fell down from the running train near the housing board colony and suffered injuries. Subsequently, he succumbed to the injuries. It is claimed that, the deceased was a bonafide passenger and had a valid MST. The claim petition was contested by the respondent before the Tribunal and it was averred that the victim was not a bonafide passenger; he did not sustain injuries due to fall; there was no accident on 18th September, 2012 near housing board colony, Rohtak Railway Station, Haryana. The Tribunal had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the claim. Present first appeal is filed under Section 23 of Railway Accident Claims Tribunal Act, 1987, impugning the judgment of the Railways Claims Tribunal whereby the claim petition filed by the Appellants was dismissed.

The findings of the learned Tribunal seemingly are based upon conjectures and surmises and are not supported by any acceptable evidence on record. The Respondent did not produce any evidence in defence. It is not at issue that, at the time of incident the victim had a valid MST No. 17532605 from Shakurpur Basti to Rohtak. The occurrence took place on 18th September, 2012 at around 03.00 p.m. near Housing Board Colony short of the destination station. Record reveals that after the accident, the victim sustained grievous injuries and finally he succumbed to injuries on 27th September, 2012. Post-mortem examination on the body was conducted. Post-mortem report reveals that the cause of death was due to the suffering of the injuries described therein. The information as furnished by the police revealed that, the cause of death was 'railway accident'. No valid reasons exist to disbelieve the contents of the post-mortem report prepared much prior to the filing of the claim petition.

Victim's father examined himself as AW-1 and filed his evidence by way of affidavit. The material facts deposed by him remained unchallenged in the cross-examination. He elaborated that at 04.15 p.m. he come to know about the accident. He denied that the victim died while crossing the railway track. Nothing was suggested to him that, the victim had not sustained injuries in the 'railway accident' or that the police officials had manipulated his statement.

The defence of the Respondent is not consistent. It was denied if any accident had taken place near Housing Board Colony, Rohtak on 18th September, 2012. This defence in the written statement is contrary to the suggestions put to the victim's father that at the time of incident the victim was crossing the railway track.

Liability of the railways under Section 123(c) read with Section 124(a) of the Railways Act, 1989 is a strict liability. Once the deceased with a valid train ticket is found on the railway track and which is not near the place of residence or the place of work, onus of proof shifts upon the railway to show that the deceased was not a bonafide passenger travelling on the train. This onus, the Respondent has miserably failed to discharge. No witness was examined in defence to prove that, no such accident had taken place at the spot that day. The findings of the learned Tribunal cannot be sustained and are set aside. The appeal is allowed. The appellants shall be entitled to statutory compensation of Rs. 8 lacs along with interest @ 6% per annum from the date of filing of the petition till the date of payment.

Tags : Bonafide passenger Compensation Grant

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