Log in

Railway seeks new definition of an accident

  • Written by Dimpitha
Mumbai: Mumbai's parliamentarians have strongly objected to an amendment proposed by the Centre in the Railways Act, which will make it virtually impossible for rail accident victims to get compensation. The proposed amendment seeks to change the meaning of an "accidental fall," besides putting the onus on the victim to prove that the accident was not a consequence of their "misadventures, carelessness, or negligence."

If it passes, the amendment will have a huge impact on Mumbai, which has the largest suburban rail network in the country that ferries 7 million passengers daily and witnesses on an average 11 deaths a day. The amended Bill, introduced by the then Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda in the Lok Sabha for discussion on August 7, clearly states that passengers boarding or alighting moving trains or travelling on footboards should not be considered for compensation. Under the current Act, anyone who suffers an injury or dies in a rail accident is awarded compensation between Rs 80,000 to Rs 4 lakh by the Railway Tribunal.

MPs from Mumbai are unhappy with the amendment, which provides for compensation for accidental falling of any passenger from a train but does not include "a passenger falling from a train while entering or leaving or attempting to enter or leave any carriage while the train is in motion... or while standing near the door or opens the door of any carriage while the train is in motion."

Speaking to Mirror, MPs Kirit Somaiya, Gopal Shetty and Arvind Sawant said they have opposed the amendment on the floor of the house and will also oppose it in front of the parliamentary committee that is studying it. Besides these three MPs, several other elected representatives and activists have started writing to the committee hoping that their voices will prevail and the amendment would be withdrawn.

The proposal adds that "most of the cases of 'the accidental falling' arising out of falling down from train are because of negligence, carelessness and misadventure on the part of the passengers while entraining and detraining a moving train knowing that any accident may take place. However, railways are being made liable to pay compensation even when there is no fault on the part of railway."

While the Bill is still with the Parliamentary Committee on Railway Act Amendment 2014, several activists and MPs have come out strongly opposing it. Advocate VS Chaugule, president of the Railway Accidents Victims' Association and also a practicing lawyer for past three decades at the railway tribunal said, "More than 95 per cent of the cases that come to the tribunal will get thrown out if the Bill comes through. The situation in suburban trains in Mumbai is different from other cities.

Here trains are crowded and everybody is in a hurry to get to work. In the past, the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court have looked at this issue and ruled that such cases should get compensation. The only logic behind the Bill is to save money. We have made representations to Committee and other MPs to oppose the Bill."

Kirit Somaiya, MP from Mumbai North East, besides raising concerns over the Bill added that victims should, in fact, be compensated faster. "Now that the Bill is with the Committee, I will make representations there to ensure that the amendment is not brought," said Somaiya, who has fought to get compensation for several accident victims. "If anything, there is a crying need to increase compensation and ensuring that it reaches the victim even when she is undergoing treatment. Most victims, for want of funds, end up losing out on proposer treatment after the accident."

Arvind Sawant, MP from Mumbai South, too opposed the bill on the floor of the house. Saying he will oppose it in front of the committee also, Sawant said Mumbai is a strong case for why the amendment should not pass. "People are always in a hurry to get to work or home," said Sawant. "To earn their livelihood they travel by trains and end up getting hurt or even die. The amendment is certainly not acceptable."

Echoing the views of the above two, Gopal Shetty, MP from Mumbai North, said the suburban rail network should be beefed up before even thinking of something like this. "Commuters in Mumbai risk their lives to get on to crowded suburban trains to get to work. While doing so if they are hurt, how can they be denied compensation?"

Related items

  • Nepal: 11 killed, 29 hurt in bus accident
  • CAG says railways responsible for Maha Kumbh tragedy
  • As promised, Hansal Mehta casts Shweta Basu in a documentary
  • Mother trained sons to flick jewels while she chatted up store staff
  • Shah Rukh Khan says 'no' to a biopic on himself
More in this category: « Fooled by fake lottery mail, man steals Rs 48 lakh from employer Swimming with the dog costed engineer’s life »

Leave a comment



Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 49%

Wind: 4.83 km/h

  • 30 Nov 2014 32°C 23°C
  • 1 Dec 2014 33°C 23°C
Banner 468 x 60 px