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Woman dies trying to board moving train; Bombay HC says Railways can’t deny compensation

The Railway Claims Tribunal had ordered Central Railway to pay Rs 4 lakh compensation, which was also doubled by the high court.


Mumbai,UPDATED: Jan 27, 2023 19:34 IST

The woman succumbed to her injuries sustained while boarding a moving train. (Representative image of a Mumbai Local train- Photo: Getty/file)

By Vidya : The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, while rejecting a plea by the Central Railway, has said that it is liable to pay compensation to the family of a deceased woman who had come under the wheels while attempting to catch a running train.

The high court said that the expression ‘accidental falling of a passenger from a train carrying passengers’ includes accidents where a bonafide passenger, on trying to board a railway train, falls down in the process. “A purposive, and not literal, interpretation should be given to the expression,” said the bench.

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The Railway Claims Tribunal had ordered CR to pay a compensation of Rs 4 Lakh, which was also doubled by the high court.

The accident took place on February 12, 2006, when Deeplaxmi Bandhe was to travel by the Amravati-Nagpur passenger train from Wardha towards Nagpur along with her husband. On the unfortunate date, while boarding the moving train, she fell down and succumbed to her injuries.

Advocate Neerja Choubey, representing the railway, submitted that the deceased was attempting to catch the moving train in spite of repeated instructions not to do so. The incident took place due to her negligence and it was a self-inflicted injury. Therefore, the railways are not liable to pay compensation.

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The Railway had even brought in witnesses who had deposed before the tribunal that they had warned the deceased to not board the running train.

The bench of Justice Urmila Joshi-Phalke said, “Beneficial or welfare statutes should be given a liberal and not literal or strict interpretation.” The court looked at the definition of “untoward incident” in the Railways Act and noted that the Apex court too said that large number of railway passengers would be deprived of compensation in railway accidents by adopting a restrictive meaning to it.

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The bench added: “Merely because the deceased has attempted to catch the train and sustained injury is not sufficient to show that it is a self-inflicted injury. But to infer that it is self-inflicted injury, the intention should be proved.”

The bench observed that it was not the case of the railway that the deceased had committed suicide, but admittedly it was the case that while catching the train, she met with an accident and sustained the injuries.

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