Jha HC | Mere absence of a ticket with the deceased will not negative claim of being a bonafide passenger, Court reiterates

Jharkhand High Court: The Bench of Dr S.N. Pathak, J., allowed a petition assailing the order and judgment passed by learned Railway Claims Tribunal.

In the pertinent case, the claimant was the father of the deceased, Anand Mandi, who after boarding the train, met with an accident by way of falling down from the train. After completing all the formalities, a compensation of Rs 4 lakhs was sought for. The same was contended by the respondent (Railways) that they were not responsible as neither was there any eye witness to corroborate the said incident nor any passenger ticket was recovered from the possession of the deceased. It was also argued that the applicant is also put to strict proof that the cause of death of late Anand Mandi does not fall in any of the exceptional clauses (a) to (e) of Section 124-A of the Railways (Amendment) Act, 1994.

The learned Tribunal framed the following three issues and the parties were put on trial:-

  1. Whether Anand Mandi was a bonafide passenger as alleged?
  2. Whether any untoward incident as defined under Section 123(c)(2) of the Railways Act, 1989 occurred?
  3. Whether the applicant is entitled for compensation as claimed and other relief, if any?

The Court held that by the preponderance of the probability deceased had died due to accidental fall from a passenger train and as such, the alleged incident falls within the purview of an untoward incident under Section 123(c)(2) of the Railways Act and it was decided in favour of the applicant.

The Court relied on Union of India v. Rina Devi, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 507, where the Court opined that, “…However, mere absence of ticket with such injured or deceased will not negative the claim that he was a bonafide 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 and the issue can be decided on the facts shown or the attending circumstances…”.  And the Court held that it is a case of untoward incident falling within the purview of Section 123(c)(2) of the Railways Act. The Court is of the opinion that appellant is entitled for compensation to the tune of Rs 4 lakhs with 9% interest from the date of accident till the actual payment is made.[Dhuma Ram Mandi v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 188, Order dated 13-02-2019]

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