SC To Look Into Issues Regarding Safety Of Indian Railways

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The SC, last week, said it will look into problems and concerns regarding the safety of Indian railways. The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Indira Banerjee sought prospects of the Union of India in the matter while delivering judgment in an appeal arising out of a claim made in a railway accident death case. One Dasarath Yadav had died after his head smashed with a post by the side of the railway track resulting in an accident.

Although the Railway Claims Tribunal held that he was a bona fide railway passenger and that the incident was an “untoward incident” in phases of the provisions of Section 123 of the Railways Act, 1989, it was noticed that the deceased was a victim of his own actions and as such no compensation was payable.

On Appeal, the Calcutta HC held that the applicant was entitled to compensation of Rs.8, 00,000 with interest @ 9% per annum. In terms of Section 124-A of the Act the ‘Principle of Strict Liability’ would arise and as such the Tribunal was not right in denying compensation to the claimants, the High Court had held.

Before the Apex court, the claim was that the grant of interest on the sum of Rs.8, 00,000 was not compatible with the law laid down in Rina Devi judgment. The bench perceived that the claimant shall be entitled to the benefit ordered by the High Court irrespective of the decision as regards the question of law raised in this appeal.

The apex court finally held that the HC was in error in awarding interest on the sum of Rs.8 lakhs, as the accident had occurred before the amendment.

While disposing of the appeal, the bench said:

The learned Additional Solicitor General readily agreed to the suggestion that the Railways must consider the matter in right earnest and see that the concerns regarding safety are immediately addressed. On the request of the learned Additional Solicitor General, we, therefore, adjourn the matter for eight weeks only to consider the issues regarding the safety as highlighted by the learned amicus curiae.”

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