Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has observed that local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai and if a person falls and suffers injuries while trying to board an overcrowded train, it will fall within the ambit of an "untoward incident" and compensation will have to be paid by the Railways.
A single bench of Justice Bharati Dangre directed the Western Railways to pay Rs 3 lakh to a 75-year-old man who suffered injuries to his leg after falling off an overcrowded local train.
A copy of the order dated April 12 was made available on Tuesday.
The Western Railways argued that the case did not fall under the provisions of section 124(A) of the Railways Act, which states that compensation has to be paid in cases of untoward incidents. It claimed that the petitioner, Nitin Hundiwala, had tried to board a moving train.
Justice Dangre, however, refused to accept the Railways' argument and noted that the present case clearly fell within the situation covered by "untoward incident" as per section 124(A) of the Act.
"If in daily chores, a passenger attempts to gain entry into an overcrowded train and is pushed by other passengers, resulting in his or her fall, then there is no reason why such an incident cannot fall within the ambit of an untoward incident," the order said.
Local trains in Mumbai are often called the 'life line of the city', with a huge number of the city's inhabitants relying on them to get to work and other destinations at some point of time, the court said.
"Even, it is not unknown, for the residents of Mumbai who commute through Railways, to undertake risk at some point of time, in order to reach their destination on time. This city, which is affordable and convenient, this calculated risk cannot surely amount to a criminal act," Justice Dangre said.
The order further stated that the purpose of section 124(A) of the Railways Act was to provide speedy remedy to an injured passenger or to the dependents of a deceased passenger involved in an untoward incident.
This provision of the Act cannot be stretched to deny compensation to a person who may act callously or imprudently at times, Justice Dangre said.
Hundiwala had filed an appeal in the high court challenging an order passed by the Railway Claims Tribunal in July 2013, rejecting his claim for compensation of Rs 4 lakh from the Western Railways on account of the injuries he suffered in November 2011 after he fell off a crowded local train.
According to Hundiwala's plea, on the day of the incident he had boarded an overcrowded train from Dadar railway station. He was pushed by the crowd in the compartment and since he was standing on the edge, he lost his balance and fell from the moving train, and suffered injuries to his head and leg.
Hundiwala claimed that till date he is suffering due to the accident and has difficulty while walking and lifting heavy things.
The Railways Tribunal had rejected his claim after accepting the Western Railways' argument that Hundiwala had tried to board a moving train, which is an imprudent and criminal act on his part and hence, the same cannot be termed as an untoward incident.