Railways liable to pay compensation for deaths caused while boarding train: SC

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NEW DELHI, MAY 11,
Death or injury caused while boarding or de-boarding a train will entitle a person to compensation from the railways, the Supreme Court has held.
In a significant ruling which will help decide thousands of railway compensation cases and bring relief to families of victims, a Bench led by Justice A.K. Goel held that death or injury caused while getting onto a train or alighting from it cannot be classified as a “self-inflicted injury” and used by the railways as a reason to deny compensation to victims.
The railways cannot plead negligence on the part of the victims. Such deaths or injuries caused would be classified as “untoward incidents”, the court said.
The judgment, authored by Justice Goel, also held that mere presence of a body on the railway premises would not be conclusive to hold that the injured or deceased was a bona fide passenger for which a claim for compensation could be maintained. However, mere absence of ticket with such injured or deceased would not negate the claim that he or she was a bona fide passenger.
“Initial burden will be on the claimant which can be discharged by filing an affidavit of the relevant facts and burden will then shift on the railways. The issue can be decided on the facts shown or the attending circumstances. This will have to be dealt with from case to case on the basis of facts found,” the judgment held.
The railways had argued that it was already paying approximately ?350 crore as compensation. There are 68,000 km of railway tracks which are porous/unmanned, resulting in untoward incidents for which liability ought not to be fastened on the railways without valid proof of its liability.
The judgment came on an appeal filed by the government against the grant of ?4 lakh compensation awarded to Rina Devi, whose husband, Jatan Gope, fell from a crowded train and died on the spot.

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