IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE,
ANDHRA PRADESH AT HYDERABAD
THE HON‘BLE SRI JUSTICE K.C.BHANU
C.M.A.No.363 of 2010.
P.Lakshmi Sarojini and others
This Civil Miscellaneous Appeal, under Section 23 of the Railways Claims Tribunal Act, 1987 is directed against the order, dated 20.01.2010, in O.A.A.No.60 of 2006 on the file of the Railway Claims Tribunal, Secunderabad Bench at Secunderabad, (for short, ‘the Tribunal’), whereunder and whereby, the claim of the respondents/applicants under Section 16 of the Railways Claims Tribunal Act read with Section 124-A and 125 of the Railways Act, 1989 (for short, ‘the Act’) with regard to grant of compensation of Rs.4,00,000/- consequent on the death of Polisetty Venkateswarlu (hereinafter, referred to as ‘the deceased’) in a railway accident that took place on 13.08.2001 was allowed.
2. The brief facts that are necessary for disposal of the present appeal are as follows:
Respondents/applicants are the wife, son and three daughters of the deceased. On 13.08.2001, when the deceased was travelling by train No.7405 Krishna Express from Chirala to Vijayawada, while standing near the door on account of heavy crowd, due to the jerks of the train, he slipped, fell down and died. The ticket was missing in that incident.
3. The appellant/Railways denied the averments made in the application and pointed out that the applicants have not mentioned the site of the incident, but stated that as per the copy of the First Information Report filed by them, on 13.08.2001, the Keyman reported to the Station Master, Chirala that a person was run over by train No.7405 at Km.340/12-16 and that this did not suggest a fall from the train, and called for proof from the applicants regarding the averments made in the application and stated that the deceased was own responsible for his death.
4. Basing on the above pleadings, the following issues have been framed by the Tribunal:-
1. Whether the applicants are dependents of the deceased?
2. Whether the deceased was a bona fide passenger of the train No.7405 Krishna Express travelling from Chirala to Vijayawada on 13.08.2001?
3. Whether the deceased died as a result of an untoward incident of accidental fall from the said train?
4. To what relief?
5. On behalf of the applicants, A.W.1 was examined and Exs.A-1 to A-5 were marked. On behalf of the railways, R.W.1 was examined and got marked Exs.R-1 and R-2.
6. The Claims Tribunal, after considering the evidence and other material on record, came to the conclusion that the deceased was a bona fide passenger and died on account of a fall from the train, and accordingly, awarded compensation of Rs.4,00,000/-. Challenging the same, Railways filed this appeal.
7. Now the point for determination is whether the order of the Tribunal is correct, proper and legal?
8. Learned Standing Counsel appearing for the appellant/ Railways contended that there is no evidence to show that the deceased was a bona fide passenger travelling in a passenger train; that due to the own negligence of the deceased, the incident has taken place and therefore, the claimants are not entitled for compensation; and hence, he prays to set aside the impugned order.
9. On the other hand, learned counsel appearing for the respondents/applicants contended that the evidence of A.W.1 would clearly go to show that he saw his father purchasing a ticket and that evidence has remained unchallenged; that the Key Man found the dead body of the deceased by the side of the track; that R.W.1, who is the Station Master, received a message from the Keyman that a body was lying by the side of the track; that therefore, the Tribunal rightly awarded compensation and there are no grounds to interfere with the impugned order, and hence, he prays to dismiss the appeal.
10. There cannot be any dispute that in order to claim compensation under Section 124-A of the Act, two conditions are to be proved. The first condition precedent to be proved by the claimants is that there is an untoward incident happened and in that incident, the deceased died; and the second condition is that such a person must be a bona fide passenger travelling in the passenger train. If these two requirements are proved, then, the burden shifts to the Railway administration to establish that the case falls under anyone of the exceptions provided under proviso to Section 124-A of the Act.
11. With regard to the aspect of whether the deceased was a bona fide passenger or not is concerned, the evidence of A.W.1 is very clear that he went to the railway station for the purpose of dropping his father and his father purchased a ticket to go to Vijayawada from Chirala and boarded the train and as the train started, he left the station. Practically, the evidence of A.W.1 remained unchallenged. The statement of A.W.1 that his father purchased a ticket to travel in a passenger train remained unchallenged. There is no contrary evidence adduced by the railway administration to show that the deceased was not a bona fide passenger. Perhaps, that is the reason why the Tribunal rightly placed an implicit reliance on the evidence of A.W.1. After taking into consideration the evidence of A.W.1., it can be said that the deceased was a bona fide passenger.
12. With regard to the aspect of untoward incident, the Station Master, after receipt of message from the Keyman, informed the police. The police registered a case and conducted inquest on the dead body of the deceased. During the inquest, the police also examined A.W.1. The inquest mediators opined that the deceased died by falling from a running train. Similarly, the dead body was subjected to post mortem examination. The Doctor, who conducted the post mortem, categorically stated that the deceased sustained injuries as a result of falling from the train. There is no contra evidence adduced by the Railways to show that the case of the railway administration fall under anyone of the exceptions as mentioned under proviso to Section 124-A of the Act. Further, the police, after completion of investigation, filed a final report stating that there was no foul play or suspicious circumstances resulting in the death of the deceased. Therefore, the Tribunal rightly awarded the compensation. There are no grounds to interfere with the impugned order and the appeal is devoid of merit and is liable to be dismissed.
13. Accordingly, the Civil Miscellaneous Appeal is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.
23rd August, 2011
THE HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE K.C.BHANU
C.M.A.No.363 of 2010.