HC pulls up Rlys for inadequate relief

ST CORRESPONDENT
Saturday, 23 March 2019

The judges observed that the areas around railway stations are congested but Railways has not framed any rule regarding erection of hoardings.

PUNE: The Bombay High Court has come down heavily on the Railways for not paying adequate compensation to the victims in the hoarding collapse at Juna Bazaar Chowk last year.  

The incident took place on October 5, 2018, in which four persons died and 10 sustained serious injuries.  

Justices AS Oka and AS Gadkari, in their order dated March 1, stated, “As per the letter addressed by the Deputy Director/ Traffic Commercial, Railway Board, on humanitarian grounds was offering Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each deceased person. The payment of ex-gratia amount of Rs one lakh was paid to each person who sustained grievous injury and Rs 50,000 to each person who sustained simple injury.”

The order stated: “... The Railways have not realized that the cost of the human life cannot be so low that only a sum of Rs 5 lakh each was paid to the legal representatives. We understand the steps taken by paying ad hoc compensation so that immediate relief is extended to the family of the deceased. But the Railways have made no attempt to assess the actual compensation payable to the families of the victims after inquiring about their status, income and dependency of family members on them. The Railways cannot expect the legal representatives to approach the Court of law for seeking compensation.”

The judges, who are hearing petition filed by city-based activist Qaneez Sukhrani against the illegal sky signs, also observed that the areas around railway stations are congested but the Central Railways has not framed any rule regarding erection of hoardings on its premises. 

“Whether Railways should be held up for contempt or not is an issue which has to be decided after decision of the Apex Court in the Special Leave Petition. However, it is pointed out that the Central Railway does not have any rules governing the erection of hoardings/ banners etc. on its own properties.”

“A Judicial notice will have to be also taken of the fact that in many cities including Mumbai, on the properties of the Railways which about public streets, erection of huge hoardings/ banners on steel framework had been permitted. All this has been done by the Railways without there being any statutory or non-statutory Rules which govern the grant of such permission. In absence of such Rules, considering the incident which happened in Pune on October 5, 2018, such hoardings/banners etc. erected on the property of the Railways may cause danger to the passers-by, to the vehicles etc”, they added.

“The failure of the Railways to frame any Rules governing erection of hoardings etc. and their action of granting permission to erect hoardings on the properties in absence of statutory Rules, needs to be gone into to ensure that no other citizen should suffer hereinafter. Moreover, the adequacy of the amount paid by the Railways by way of compensation has to be gone into as far as the injured persons are concerned.”

“At least two persons according to the stand taken by the Railways suffered grievous injuries. The age of one of the persons who suffered such injury was 36 years  and the age of other one was 64 years. Even in these cases, whether the compensation granted of Rs 1 lakh commensurate with the injuries sustained and the pain and suffering by them needs to be examined. Even the adequacy of compensation paid to the next of kin of the deceased needs examination.”

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