16 September 2019


Judgments

High Court of Delhi

Sarla & Ors. v. Union of India

MANU/DE/2786/2016

06.10.2016

Civil

Inadvertent fall while boarding running train not a criminal act or self-inflicted injury to deny compensation

In instant case, Appellant is aggrieved by Railway Tribunal’s order dismissing Appellants’ claim petition by holding that, death of deceased was not on account of any accidental fall from train and would not be covered within meaning of Section 123 (c) read with Section 124-A of Railways Act, 1989 as train had already started moving after its scheduled stoppage, when deceased ran after moving train and had a fatal fall in the process. Impugned order holds that, case of Appellants comes within Proviso (b) to Section 124-A of the Railways Act, 1989 to deny compensation to appellants, who are legal heirs of deceased.

Challenge to impugned order by Appellants is on ground that, deceased was a bona fide passenger and was trying to board a compartment of the train, which was no doubt crowded, but while doing so, he had accidentally fallen and so, it is a case of accidental fall from the train which is covered by Section 123 (c) of the Railways Act, 1989.

Falling from a train while trying to board it cannot be said to be a criminal act or a self-inflicted injury by any stretch of imagination. Tribunal has gravely erred in holding that case of appellants comes within the Proviso (b) to Section 124-A of Railways Act, 1989 as aforesaid provision relates to a self-inflicted injury. However, it cannot be said that an inadvertent fall while trying to board a running train would be a self-inflicted injury.

Since, grant of compensation under Railways Act, 1989, is a beneficial piece of legislation, it should receive a liberal and wider interpretation and not a narrow and penal one and in case of conflict, an interpretation, which is to benefit of person for whom the Act is made, should be preferred. Such is the mandate of Apex Court in Prabhakaran Vijaya Kumar. In Jameela, it was held that under Section 124-A of the Railways Act, 1989, there is a strict liability on the Railways to pay the compensation and negligence is not a ground to deny compensation under Section 124-A of the Railways Act, 1989. It was reiterated by Apex Court in Jameela that, falling from a train due to one’s own negligence does not come within any of the exceptions enumerated in Proviso to Section 124-A of the Railways Act, 1989 to deny compensation.

In view of decisions of Apex Court in Prabhakaran Vijaya Kumar and Jameela, High Court held that, negligence of deceased in trying to board a train while it was leaving the platform is not covered by any of the exceptions to Proviso to Section 124-A of Railways Act, 1989 to justify denial of compensation to appellants, who are the legal heirs of the deceased. High Court allowed Appellants’ claim petition with direction to respondent to deposit the statutory compensation.

Relevant

Union of India v. Prabhakaran Vijaya Kumar and Others, (2008) 9 SCC 527 and Jameela and Others v. Union of India, (2010) 12 SCC 443, Section 123 (c), 124-A of Railways Act, 1989

Tags : Accidental fall Compensation Grant

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