Jhar HC | Responsibility of Railways administration after termination of transit, under Railways Act, 1989: Compensation for damage of goods granted

Jharkhand High Court

Jharkhand High Court: The Bench of Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, J. allowed an appeal and set aside the order passed by Tribunal for disallowing the claim petition of the said appellant against the respondent Railways.

The appellant contented to the Tribunal that delivery of goods was not within the stipulated time period and also the quantity of goods which in this particular case was oil was less than that of actual consignment and the seal of the said goods were broken. All the measurements of goods and the condition of goods were examined by the private staff along with the respondent’s staff, i.e., the Railway’s commercial staff. The aggrieved appellant claimed for the damages sustained due to criminal interference in transit along with compensation. The appellant submitted that the consignment was delivered after six months and there was laches on the part of the Railways and the Railways was responsible and the Tribunal committed an error by dismissing the claim of the appellant.

The respondent Railways argued that the examination of goods was not made by the appropriate authority and all the contentions of the appellant regarding the seal breakage and quantity has no substance as no short certificate was issued. They further submitted that when the goods are not loaded at the Railways siding according to the Act, Railways cannot be held liable for damages and in this particular case the goods were loaded at the siding of the appellant.

The Tribunal adjudicated the matter in favor of the respondent Railways and discharged their liability to pay any compensation for damages caused to the appellant; it further dismissed the appellants claim for compensation.

The Court observed the contentions of the appellant suggesting “In view of Section 93 of the Act, the Railway is responsible for the loss, destruction, damage or deterioration in transit, or non-delivery of any consignment. Section 95 of the Act provides that Railway Administration shall not be responsible if the railway proves that the delay or detention arose for reasons beyond its control or without negligence or misconduct on its part or on the part of any of its servants.” Court relied on the arguments of appellant relating to Section 99 of the Act, which held Railway administration as a bailee under the Indian Contract Act, 1872 hence, abiding with all the duties of a bailee related to loss, destruction and damages etc.

The Court held, “Railways has to deal with the goods put in its care as a bailee and has to take the same amount of care for the goods as a man of ordinary prudence not only during period of transit of goods from the station of origin to the station of destination but for a period of 7 days after the termination of transit.” The Court further found that consignment was properly secured when placed with Railways and the Railways staff had full accessibility to examine the loading and unloading of goods. There was unnecessary delay in the delivery of the goods for which railways had no explanation. Court reversed the order of Tribunal and held Railways liable for the damages and delay of goods and granted compensation to the appellant.[Rajinder Kumar Mohal v. Union of India, MA No. 65 of 2017, decided on 02-05-2019]

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