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Injury while leaning out of train not self-inflicted

In an order with wide ramification, the Punjab and Haryana high court has held that getting injured while leaning out from a train door couldn't be termed as self-inflicted injury as such kind of negligence was not uncommon in the country. HC passed these orders while setting aside the decision of the Railway Claims Tribunal that had denied compensation to the kin of a passenger who died after falling from a train.

Deceased Munna Kumar was travelling from Patna to Ludhiana on a valid ticket on March 27, 2011. When he was passing through Kesri railway station near Ambala, due to heavy rush in the train and a sudden jerk, he fell down and hit a pole and later succumbed to injuries. His widow Sheela Devi was denied compensation by railway authorities on the grounds that the deceased was leaning out of the door and in the process he fell down and struck a pole of an overbridge. The railway had taken the stand that it amounted to self-inflicted injury and own criminal act.
Therefore, under Section 124-A of the Railways Act, the railway was not liable to pay compensation, to his legal heirs, the department had stated. The Chandigarh bench of Railway Claim Tribunal had also dismissed Sheela's application for compensation on September 20, 2013.
Aggrieved with the tribunal's orders, Sheela had filed an appeal before the HC. After hearing detailed arguments of all the parties to decide if leaning out from the door of the train near the railway station amounts to self-inflicted injury or own criminal act, the HC observed that undoubtedly a compartment in which there was stated to be huge rush, the deceased was standing near the door. "I am of the view that it is not a criminal act. Further, it does not amount to self-inflicted injury," held Justice Kuldip Singh in it August 8 orders.
The court also observed that it was purely a case of untoward incident and not a case of self-inflicted injury or own criminal act as defined under Section 124-A of the Railways Act. In my view, the Railway Claims Tribunal erred in declining the compensation to the appellants. "Therefore, the railway was held liable to pay compensation. This kind of negligence is not uncommon in the Indian trains. It could be foolish act of deceased which cost him his life, but certainly it cannot be called his/her own criminal act or self-inflicted injury," held the HC while directing railways to pay Rs 4 lakh as compensation to victim's wife along with 9% interest from the date of the mishap.


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