The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that death or injury while boarding or deboarding a train is an untoward incident that would entitle passengers and their families to compensation, PTI reported.
Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Rohinton F Nariman said that the mere presence of a body on railway premises would not be conclusive to hold that the injured or the deceased was a “bona fide passenger”. However, the absence of tickets cannot be used to disprove such claims. The court said the onus would be on claimants to prove their case by providing requisite documents.
“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,” the court said. “This will have to be dealt with from case to case on the basis of facts found.”
The court was considering the Centre’s appeal against a Patna High Court order awarding Rs 4 lakh in compensation to Rina Devi, whose husband had fallen off a train and died during rush hour on August 20, 2002. During the proceedings, the government claimed that according to Section 124A of the Railways Act, 1989, no compensation is required to be paid if a passenger commits suicide or suffers self-inflicted injuries, Live Law reported.
The court took note of a Bombay High Court judgement that ruled against paying compensation to a hawker who had died while boarding a train because it was a case of “self-inflicted injury”. The Supreme Court said that the concept of “self-inflicted injury” would require intention to inflict such injury and not mere negligence of any particular degree.