Madurai: The Madras High Court today ruled that the onus was on the railways to prove whether a person, who died after falling from a crowded train, was a bonafide passenger or not and reversed the orders of Railways Claims Tribunal refusing compensation to families of two such victims. In a judgement reserved in the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai and delivered in the Madurai Bench here, Justice T Raja held that “the onus is on the Railways (and not on the claimants for compensation) to prove that the deceased were not bona fide passengers of trains. Normally it was presumed that a passenger in a train held a valid ticket.”
Allowing two different appeals by a common order, the judge reversed the orders passed by Railway Claims Tribunal in September 2008 refusing compensation to families of two passengers who died while travelling in Electric Multiple Unit trains in Chennai in 2002 and 2006. The judge directed the Southern Railways to pay a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each with interest to the claimants. The judge held that the tribunal had erred in expecting the claimants to produce valid tickets.The railways could not deny compensation to the family members on the ground that the passengers were not bonafide travellers and they were not able to produce tickets or any other travel authority to establish that the deceased were bonafide passengers of the train in question.
The tribunal had erred in expecting the claimants to produce valid tickets, the judge said, adding the Section 124A of the Railways Act, 1989, provided for paying compensation for any “untoward incident,” irrespective of the negligence on the part of the railways, subject to conditions that the deceased or injured purchased a valid ticket and it was not an instance of attempt to suicide or intoxication. One case was filed by parents of T Jagan, who died after hitting an electric post while travelling in an overcrowded train on April 10, 2006. The second claim was filed by the wife and children of K Ekambaran, a construction worker, who died in a similar incident on May 28, 2002. PTI
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