The Bombay High Court has directed the Railway Claims Tribunal to pay appropriate compensation to a 55-year-old man who had fallen off a moving local train in the city in 2004 and sustained severe injuries.
Merely because he was not carrying a valid ID card with his season pass was no reason for denying his claim, said Justice S K Shinde on an appeal filed by Harish Damodar.
Mr Damodar had challenged the tribunal's 2009 order which rejected his plea for a compensation of Rs 4 lakh.
He was travelling from suburban Mulund to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in the city when he fell off near Dadar station in central Mumbai. He sustained severe injuries and had to undergo multiple surgeries, as per his petition.
But when Mr Damodar moved the Railway Tribunal seeking compensation as per the rules, it rejected his claim on the ground that though he was carrying a valid railway pass at the time of the accident, he did not have an identity card with him.
During the hearing on his appeal, the tribunal cited a directive of the Union Ministry of Railways which says that a person must produce a valid identity card with the local train pass to be considered a "bonafide passenger." As Mr Damodar was travelling without an ID card, his claim was "not admissible", it argued.
The high court said this could not be a valid ground.
"Although, instructions stipulate, season ticket would be invalid for want of Identity Card, in my view, for more than one reason, non-production of the Identity Card along with the season ticket by a passenger, who had sustained injury due to accidental fall, itself would not render valid season ticket, invalid," Justice Shinde said.
He was travelling with a valid pass and therefore he must be considered a bonafide passenger, the court said, adding that the Railway ministry's instructions were advisory in nature.
"The Union ministry's instructions cannot be held (to be) mandatory and therefore would not render, proper season ticket, automatically invalid for non-production of identity card," the High Court said, while directing Mr Damodar to approach the Tribunal afresh.
The tribunal must reconsider his application and it shall "proceed to grant compensation to the appellant in accordance with the law, by July 31 this year," the court said.
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