The liability of Railways in the event of a train accident has been defined under Section 124 of the Railways Act, 1989. It provides that when in the course of working a railway, an accident occurs, being either a collision between trains, where one train is carrying passengers, or the derailment of or other accident to a train or any part of a train carrying passengers, then whether or not there has been any wrongful act, neglect or default on the part of the railway administration, a passenger who has been injured or has suffered a loss would be entitled to maintain an action and recover damages in this respect.1
The railway administration shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, be liable to pay compensation to such extent as may be prescribed and to that extent only for loss occasioned by the death of a passenger, dying as a result of such accident, and for personal injury and loss, destruction, damage or deterioration of goods owned by the passenger and accompanying him in his compartment or on the train, sustained as a result of such accident.2
The Railway administration under Section 124-A of the Railways Act, 1989 is liable to pay compensation for loss of life or injury to bonafide rail passengers, who become victims of untoward incidents such as terrorist acts, violent attack, robbery, dacoity, rioting, shoot-out or arson by any persons in or on any train carrying passengers, waiting hall, cloak room, reservation or booking office, platform, any place within the precincts of a railway station or the accidental falling of any passenger from a train carrying passengers. The date from which claim to compensation is accrued under this section, is the date of the incident.3
As per the explanation to this Section, “passengers” includes:
A railway servant on duty; and
A person who has purchased a valid ticket for travelling, by a train carrying passengers, on any date or a valid platform ticket and becomes a victim of an untoward incident.4
Bona fide Passenger
Mere presence of a body on railway premises will not be conclusive to hold that injured or deceased was a bona fide passenger for which a claim for compensation could be maintained. Also, mere absence of ticket with such injured or deceased will not negative the claim that he was a bona fide passenger. Further, initial burden on claimant can be discharged by filing an affidavit of relevant facts and burden will then shift on Railways and the issue can be decided on the facts shown or the attending circumstances5
In Rathi Menon v. Union of India, (2001) 3 SCC 714 , the Court said that purpose of provisions in Sections 123 to 129, is to provide a speedier procedure for accident victims to claim compensation and not to provide any sort of benefit to Railway Administration,
Application to the Railway Claims Tribunal 6
An application for compensation is made to the Railway Claims Tribunal. The main objective of setting up the Tribunal is to provide quicker relief and early payment of compensation.7 The Tribunal has the powers of a District Court and appeal against its decision lies in the High Court.
Who can file the application:
A person who has sustained the injury or suffered any loss, or
Any agent duly authorised by such person in his behalf, or
Where such persons is a minor, by his guardian, or
Where death has resulted from the accident, by any dependent of the deceased or where such a dependent is a minor, by his guardian
Applicant can file claims at Railway Claims Tribunal8
having territorial jurisdiction over the place where the accident or untoward incident occurs, or
where the claimant normally resides.
Procedure for filing the Application for Compensation9
- As per Section 5 of the Railway Claims Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1989, an application to the Tribunal shall be presented in Form I or Form II or Form III , either by the applicant in person or by an agent or by his duly authorised legal practitioner in the office of the Registrar or the Additional Registrar, or the Assistant Registrar.
- An application can be sent by registered post or electronic mail to the office of the Registrar or the Additional Registrar or the Assistant Registrar of the Bench concerned. The application shall be presented in triplicate.
- Further, the application sent by e-mail by the applicant shall also be made available in hardcopies along with originals or duly certified true copies of originals by registered post to the Registrar, Additional Registrar or the Assistant Registrar.
- The applicant may present with his application a receipt slip in Form IV , signed by the Registrar or the officer receiving the application on behalf of the Registrar in acknowledgment.
Amount of Compensation
The dependents of the dead or injured passenger or his authorised agent have to approach the Railway Claims Tribunal which decides the claims.
Compensation for death or permanent disability – Rs 8 lakhs10.
Compensation for injury- Maximum is Rs 7.2 lakhs11 depending upon the gravity of injury.
Interest on account of delay in payment of compensation is payable from the date of claim application.12
Regarding the quantum of compensation, the Court in Union of India v. Radha Yadav13 held that the liability will accrue on the date of the accident and the amount applicable on that date will be the amount recoverable. Compensation will be payable as applicable on the date of the accident with interest as may be considered reasonable from time to time on the same pattern as in accident claim cases. However, if the amount so calculated is less than the amount prescribed on the date of the award of the Tribunal, the claimant will be entitled to higher of the two amounts.14
Interim Relief 15
Step wise action to be taken by the claimants for getting interim relief :
Obtain postmortem report in case of death.
Obtain a copy of FIR in case of death / injury.
Obtain a medical report indicating the details of injuries sustained by the passengers.
Get the death certificate from the District Administration in case of death of a passenger.
Heirship title, in case of death.
Documentary proof of bonafide of the victim / deceased as passenger of the train on the date of accident / untoward incident, if available, otherwise indicate class of Travel ticket / Pass No.
File the claim in the bench of RCT having Jurisdiction over the site of train accident/ untoward incident.
Fill the form for interim relief and attach the above-mentioned copies of the documents and submit them to the Chief Commercial Manager(‘CCM’) of the railway under whose jurisdiction the accident took place.
If interim relief is not sanctioned within 15 days from the date of submission of request from the CCM/Chief Claims Officer’s office, contact Deputy CCM of the railway for this purpose.