First Appeal No. 451 of 2015

Decided On: 18.01.2017

Appellants: Western Railway
Respondent: Vinod Sharma

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Dr. B.C. Gupta


Dr. B.C. Gupta, (Presiding Member)

1. This first appeal has been filed under section 19, read with Section 21(a)(ii) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, against the impugned order dated 22.12.2014, passed by the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Mumbai (hereinafter referred to as "the State Commission") in Consumer Complaint No. 120/2012, filed by the present respondent/complainant, vide which, the said complaint was allowed, and compensation was ordered to be paid to the complainant as per the details given hereafter.

2. The facts of the case are that the complainant, Vinod Sharma, aged 34 years, residing at Krish Garden, Nalla Sopara (W), District Thane was employed with M/s. S.K.I.L. Infrastructure Ltd. as Administrative Manager and he used to commute from Virar Station to Churchgate Station in Mumbai, every day by local train. He was holder of a first-class season ticket/pass effective from 07.05.2010 to 06.06.2010. On 13.05.2010, when the complainant got down from the local train at Churchgate Railway Station at about 10.45 am, and was going towards his office, a heavy wooden plank/sleeper, approximately 10 ft long and 2 ft wide, fell on his head, on platform No. 3, from a height of more than 50 feet, causing grievous brain injury and multiple skull fracture with spontaneous unconsciousness. At that time, renovation work at platform No. 3 was at progress, but there were no warnings/alert sign-boards or fencing etc. to that effect on the spot. The complainant remained admitted at Bombay Hospital from 13.05.2010 to 09.09.2010 for brain/skull surgery. Thereafter, he was admitted in Alliance Hospital at Nalasopara during the period 12.10.2011 to 15.10.2011. The complainant was diagnosed as suffering from right hemiparesis grade III upper limbs, grade IV lower limbs and had significant global dysphasia. A part of his skull was removed that would be required to be fixed at a later stage. The complainant stated that he shall have to take treatment life-long in future and also take a special diet costing Rs. 6,000/- p.m. in the consumer complaint, the complainant sought directions to the OPs to pay compensation of Rs. 80.00 lakhs alongwith interest @ 12% per annum from 13.05.2010 till realisation and also the cost of litigation.

3. The OPs resisted the complaint by filing a written statement before the State Commission, in which they stated that the State Commission had no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint in view of Sections 13 & 15 of the Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT) Act, 1987. Moreover, the OPs had already paid more than Rs. 25 lakhs to the Bombay Hospital for medical treatment of the complainant. The OPs had sent letters dated 20.05.2010 and 05.08.2010 to the Medical Director, Bombay Hospital, saying that they will bear the entire expenses incurred during the treatment of the complainant. The said Hospital was asked to raise bills in the name of Chief Medical Superintendent, Railways, Mumbai, Central. Further, as per the Railway Board circular No. 2006/H/73 dated 12.09.2006, both emergency and essential type of medical treatment had been provided to the complainant, while he was admitted in Bombay Hospital and thereafter discharged also. The OPs also stated that under Section 124 & 124A of the Railways Act, the Railway Claims Tribunal had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain the complaint in question. Further, the xerox copy of the railway identity card showed that there were no signatures of the complainant on the same. On the season ticket as well, there was no name and signatures of the complainant and his age was shown to be 21 years, meaning thereby that the said season ticket was not valid. The OPs maintained that no case was made out for awarding the compensation, as stated in the consumer complaint and hence, the same should be dismissed.