Kerala HC: Accidental Fall of Passenger Alighting from Wrong Train is ‘Untoward Incident, Orders Compensation

Kerala HC Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: November 21, 2023 at 03:39 IST

In a recent judgment, the Kerala High Court has determined that the accidental fall of a passenger attempting to alight from a wrong train constitutes an ‘untoward incident,’ not a ‘self-inflicted injury.’

Justice C. Pratheep Kumar asserted that the dependents of the deceased passenger were entitled to compensation, emphasizing that the fall resulted from attempting to disembark the incorrect train, not intentional self-harm.

The deceased had mistakenly boarded the wrong train, realizing the error only after it had started moving. While attempting to alight at Shornur Railway Station, the passenger fell on the platform, sustaining injuries that led to his demise.

The Railway Claims Tribunal, Ernakulam, denied compensation to the dependents, claiming the death was due to self-inflicted injury. Dissatisfied, the dependents appealed to the High Court.

The pivotal question before the court was whether the injuries could be categorized as ‘self-inflicted injury’ under the exception to proviso of Section 124A of the Railways Act.

Referring to the Supreme Court decisions in Union of India v. Rina Devi (2018) and Union of India v. Prabhakaran Vijaya Kumar (2008), the court clarified that the intention to inflict injury was crucial for an incident to be considered self-inflicted.

Emphasizing that accidental falling from a moving passenger train qualifies as an untoward incident, the court concluded that there was no intention by the deceased to harm himself.

Reviewing the postmortem certificate and final report, the court noted that the deceased died from injuries sustained on the hip and right thigh. Concluding that the incident was a result of attempting to alight from the moving train after boarding the wrong one, the court declared it a “clear case of accidental falling” falling under the purview of an ‘untoward incident.’

Case Title: Malarkodi P v Union of India

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