Court directive for safe rail journey

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has observed that the Railways should discourage passengers from standing in front of open doors or sitting on footboards of a moving train.

The Bench comprising Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice A. Harilal made the observation while remanding a compensation case to the Railways Claims Tribunal for fresh consideration.

The court observed that it expected railway officials to take action when they came cross such prohibited activities. The fact that such travel was not safe had been sufficiently articulated in Section 156 of the Railways Act.

The petition was filed by the father and sister of Jithu, 22, from Thalassery against the dismissal of their compensation claim by the Railway Claims Tribunal. He died while travelling on Mangalore Mail on November 12, 2008, after falling from the train. The Railways took the stand that travel by the victim was a dangerous and reckless act and therefore his fall was due to his own wilful act, for which the Railways had been exempted from paying compensation under Section 124A(b) of the Railways Act.

The tribunal also found it was a dangerous and reckless way of travel and so, the relatives were not liable to be paid compensation and that the injuries sustained as a result of such travel should be treated as “self-inflicted injuries”. The tribunal also found that doors could suddenly close due to braking or acceleration, which was the alleged reason for the accidental fall. The tribunal also observed that that there was no need to travel in such a manner as the victim and the rest of the family had seats to travel.

The Bench was of the view that the finding of the tribunal that the victim was guilty of an act which could be treated as self-inflicted injury was not correct. It was beyond dispute that he was sitting on a footboard of the train and apparently the door moved and collided against him resulting in his being thrown out of the train and his unfortunate death.

The Bench pointed out that there was no case that the victim had been asked by a railway employee to desist from travelling on the step or footboard and still he persisted in flouting the direction of the official. Therefore, the victim could not be accused of a criminal act as such.

Discourage people from standing in front of open doors of moving train, Railways told.

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