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Saturday, December 13, 2014

the archaic rules of Railways .... & the paltry compensation offered !

Goods are moved from one place to another through mode of Road, Rail, Ship or air.  Passengers too travel places by these modes.  In transporting goods, the primary responsibility is ‘safe delivery’ of the goods entrusted to them.  In India, the passengers who meet with an accident, as defined under Section 124 of the Railways Act, 1989 or become victims of untoward incidents as defined under Section 124-A of the Act are entitled to compensation for loss of life and injuries as a result of their involvement in a train accident or untoward incident.  For death of a passenger, the liability of Railways is Rs.4,00,000/-  The Act provides for computation at various % for loss of limbs / permanent disability and injuries. 

The Act also provides for circumstances whence the Railway Administration is not liable.   It states that no compensation shall be payable by the railway administration if the passenger dies or suffers injury due to-
    (a) suicide or attempted suicide by him;
    (b) self-inflicted injury;
    (c)  his own criminal act;
    (d) any act committed by him in a state of intoxication or insanity:
    (e) any natural cause or disease or medical or surgical treatment unless such treatment becomes necessary due to injury caused by the said untoward incident.

In respect of goods, the compensation fixed for does appear measly.  When the value / commodity is not declared and where no %age charge is paid – it is just Rs.100 per kg. in case of baggage and luggage and Rs.50 per kg for other items of parcel/goods.  Further, no compensation is payable in the case of luggage or baggage which is not booked and is in the custody of the passenger.
For animals too, the monetary liability are fixed.  For Elephants it is Rs.6000/-; Rs.3000/- for horses; Rs.800 for mules, horned Cattle or Camels and Rs.120 for dogs, donkeys, goats, pigs, sheep and birds.

Indian Railways still carry lot of legacy of British colonialism and perhaps on the compensation front too, as understood from this report in Daily Mail, which mentions of unsympathetic rail company offering woman £10 compensation after falling suitcase on board train to Scotland breaks her ribs.

Kate Robertson, 34, was travelling to Aberdeen when a suitcase fell on her – the overhead luggage narrowly missed hitting her 2 year old daughter ~ and ScotRail has offered Kate a £10 voucher in a gesture of goodwill.   The mother of two has hit out at ScotRail for a 'lack of sympathy'.  

The suitcase falling from overhead storage hit and broke her ribs.  She was taken off the train in agony at a time when she was travelling with her two young children. Kate, a careers advisor at Aberdeen University, said  'You have to keep passageways clear. A man had put the suitcase up in an overhead rack to get it out of the way. 'It fell down on me as I was bending down to put my rucksack under a table.' Kate had been returning from Milton Keynes when the incident happened, on her journey home from visiting her parents. The accident happened just minutes into the train journey, and Kate was taken off the train at Inverkeithing and transported by ambulance to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

Earlier this month ScotRail sent Kate - who has been corresponding with the FirstGroup company - the travel voucher as a good-will gesture. The firm had said she was due a £3 refund on the leg of the journey she missed. Kate, from Kinneff, responded, saying: 'Because the suitcase owner said it was his fault, ScotRail said they weren't responsible.' A spokeswoman for ScotRail said: 'We are sorry she was injured as a result of another passenger incorrectly storing their luggage.'

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Nov. 2014

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