in a local train one Dasarath Yadav had peeped his head out of the compartment door and his head collided with a post by the side of the railway track resulting in an accident where he lost his life = Therefore, if the liability had arisen before the amendment was brought in, the basic figure would be as per the Schedule as was in existence before the amendment and on such basic figure reasonable rate of interest would be calculated. If there be any difference between the amount so calculated and the amount prescribed in the Schedule as on the date of the award, the higher of two figures would be the measure of compensation. For instance, in case of a death in an accident which occurred before amendment, the basic figure would be Rs.4,00,000/-. If, after applying reasonable rate of interest, the final figure were to be less than Rs.8,00,000/-, which was brought in by way of amendment, the claimant would be entitled to Rs.8,00,000/-. If, however, the amount of original compensation with rate of interest were to exceed the sum of Rs.8,00,000/- the compensation would be in terms of figure in excess of Rs.8,00,000/-. The idea is to afford the benefit of the amendment, to the extent possible. Thus, according to us, the matter is crystal clear. The issue does not need any further clarification or elaboration. we must hold that the High Court was in error in awarding interest on the sum of Rs.8 lakhs in the instant case. Where the accident had occurred before the amendment, it ought to have considered the matter in the light of the principle laid down in Rani Devi1 . We, therefore, set aside the impugned judgment and allow the appeals. However, the respondent, in any case, would not be affected in any manner and will be entitled to the sum awarded by the High Court.


Hon’ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit 

Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
1
Reportable
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 1265-1266 OF 2019
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil)Nos.28032-28033 of 2018)
UNION OF INDIA ……Appellant
VERSUS
RADHA YADAV ..…. Respondent
WITH
Civil Appeal Nos.1267-1268 of 2019 @
Special leave Petition (Civil) Nos.2993-2994 of 2019
(D.No.33760)
JUDGMENT
Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

  1. Leave granted.
  2. While travelling from Burdwan Railway Station to Howrah Railway
    Station on 02.10.2003 in a local train one Dasarath Yadav had peeped his head
    out of the compartment door and his head collided with a post by the side of
    the railway track resulting in an accident where he lost his life. The Railway
    Claims Tribunal, Kolkata by its judgment and order dated 27.09.2007 found
    Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
    Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
    2
    that the deceased was a bona fide railway passenger and that the incident was
    an “untoward incident” in terms of the provisions of Section 123 of the
    Railways Act, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”). The Tribunal,
    however, found that the deceased was victim of his own act and as such no
    compensation was payable.
  3. The dismissal of the Claim Petition was challenged by the respondent
    i.e. widow of the deceased by filing FMA No.858 of 2012 in the High Court
    at Calcutta.
  4. The Railway Accidents and Untoward Incidents (Compensation)
    Rules, 1990 (hereinafter referred to as “the Rules) provide for a Schedule
    prescribing the amount of compensation payable in respect of death and
    injuries. During the pendency of the matter by way of amendment, the
    amount of compensation which was earlier at the level of Rs.4,00,000/- in
    case of death was raised to Rs.8,00,000/-.
  5. It was found by the High Court that in terms of Section 124-A of the
    Act the ‘Principle of Strict Liability’ would arise and as such the Tribunal was
    not right in denying compensation to the respondent. While allowing the
    appeal, the High Court held the respondent to be entitled to compensation of
    Rs.8,00,000/- with interest @ 9% per annum. The judgment of the High
    Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
    Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
    3
    Court in the present case was delivered on 03.03.2017. The challenge raised
    by way of review petition was also rejected on 30.11.2017.
  6. On 09.05.2018 in the case of Union of India v. Rina Devi1
    this
    Court considered the following questions:
    i) Whether the quantum of compensation should be as per
    the prescribed rate of compensation as on the date of
    application/incident or on the date of order awarding
    compensation;
    ii) Whether principle of strict liability applies;
    iii) Whether presence of a body near the railway track is
    enough to maintain a claim;
    iv) Rate of interest.
    As regards the first question this Court ruled as under:-
    “18. ……. We are of the view that law in the present context
    should be taken to be that the liability will accrue on the date
    of the accident and the amount applicable as on that date will
    be the amount recoverable but the claimant will get interest
    from the date of accident till the payment at such rate as may
    be considered just and fair from time to time. In this context,
    rate of interest applicable in motor accident claim cases can
    be held to be reasonable and fair. Once concept of interest has
    been introduced, principles of Workmen Compensation Act
    can certainly be applied and judgment of 4-Judge Bench in
    Pratap Narain Singh Deo2
    will fully apply. Wherever it is
    found that the revised amount of applicable compensation as
    on the date of award of the Tribunal is less than the
    1 2018 SCC OnLine SC 507 =2018 AIR 2362 = 2018 SCR 417 = 2018 (7) SCALE 274
    2
    (1976) 1 SCC 289
    Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
    Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
    4
    prescribed amount of compensation as on the date of accident
    with interest, higher of the two amounts ought to be awarded
    on the principle of beneficial legislation. Present legislation is
    certainly a piece of beneficent legislation.
  7. Accordingly, we conclude that compensation will be
    payable as applicable on the date of the accident with interest
    as may be considered reasonable from time to time on the
    same pattern as in accident claim cases. If the amount so
    calculated is less than the amount prescribed as on the date of
    the award of the Tribunal, the claimant will be entitled to
    higher of the two amounts. This order will not affect the
    awards which have already become final and where
    limitation for challenging such awards has expired, this order
    will not by itself be a ground for condonation of delay.
    Seeming conflict in Rathi Menon3
    and Kalandi Charan
    Sahoo4
    stands explained accordingly. The 4-Judge Bench
    judgment in Pratap Narain Singh Deo2
    holds the field on the
    subject and squarely applies to the present situation.
    Compensation as applicable on the date of the accident has to
    be given with reasonable interest and to give effect to the
    mandate of beneficial legislation, if compensation as
    provided on the date of award of the Tribunal is higher than
    unrevised amount with interest, the higher of the two
    amounts has to be given.”
  8. This Special Leave Petition was filed in the month of September,
    2018 i.e. after the aforesaid decision of this Court in Rina Devi1
    .
    3
    (2001) 3 SCC 714
    4
    2018 (7) SCJ 159 = (2017) SCC Online SC 1638
    Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
    Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
    5
  9. When the matter was taken up, it was submitted on behalf of the
    appellant that grant of interest on the sum of Rs.8,00,000/- was not
    consistent with the law laid down by this Court in the case of Rina Devi1
    . It
    was contended that despite said decision, in number of cases interest was
    being awarded on the revised amount of Rs.8,00,000/-. In the peculiar facts
    and circumstances, this Court did not find it appropriate to issue notice to the
    respondent but appointed Mr. Brijender Chahar, learned Senior Advocate as
    amicus curiae to assist the Court. It was made clear that the respondent
    shall be entitled to the benefit ordered by the High Court irrespective of the
    decision as regards question of law raised in the matter.
  10. We heard Mr. Vikramjit Banerjee, learned Additional Solicitor
    General for the appellant and Mr. Brijender Chahar, learned amicus curiae.
  11. The issue raised in the matter does not really require any elaboration
    as in our view, the judgment of this Court in the case of Rina Devi1
    is very
    clear. What this Court has laid down is that the amount of compensation
    payable on the date of accident with reasonable rate of interest shall first be
    calculated. If the amount so calculated is less than the amount prescribed as
    on the date of the award, the claimant would be entitled to higher of these
    Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
    Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
    6
    two amounts. Therefore, if the liability had arisen before the amendment
    was brought in, the basic figure would be as per the Schedule as was in
    existence before the amendment and on such basic figure reasonable rate of
    interest would be calculated. If there be any difference between the amount
    so calculated and the amount prescribed in the Schedule as on the date of the
    award, the higher of two figures would be the measure of compensation.
    For instance, in case of a death in an accident which occurred before
    amendment, the basic figure would be Rs.4,00,000/-. If, after applying
    reasonable rate of interest, the final figure were to be less than Rs.8,00,000/-,
    which was brought in by way of amendment, the claimant would be entitled
    to Rs.8,00,000/-. If, however, the amount of original compensation with rate
    of interest were to exceed the sum of Rs.8,00,000/- the compensation would
    be in terms of figure in excess of Rs.8,00,000/-. The idea is to afford the
    benefit of the amendment, to the extent possible. Thus, according to us, the
    matter is crystal clear. The issue does not need any further clarification or
    elaboration.
  12. Consequently, we must hold that the High Court was in error in
    awarding interest on the sum of Rs.8 lakhs in the instant case. Where the
    accident had occurred before the amendment, it ought to have considered the
    Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
    Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
    7
    matter in the light of the principle laid down in Rani Devi1
    . We, therefore,
    set aside the impugned judgment and allow the appeals. However, the
    respondent, in any case, would not be affected in any manner and will be
    entitled to the sum awarded by the High Court.
  13. We must also note an important aspect which was brought to our
    notice by the learned amicus curiae. He placed summary of four Reports
    regarding safety in Indian Railways. Those Reports are:-
  14. Anil Kakodkar High Level Safety Review Committee,
    17.02.2012;
  15. Twelfth Report of 16th Lok Sabha on safety and security in
    Railways;
  16. Report No.14 of 2016 of the Comptroller and Auditor
    General of India on Suburban Train Services in Indian
    Railways; and
  17. Twenty-Third Report of Standing Committee on Railways
    (2013-14) Fifteenth Lok Sabha, Ministry of Railways Report
    on Suburban Train Services of Indian Railways, with particular
    emphasis on Security of Women Passengers.
  18. The learned Additional Solicitor General readily agreed to the
    suggestion that the Railways must consider the matter in right earnest and
    see that the concerns regarding safety are immediately addressed. On the
    Civil Appeal Nos.1265-1266/2019 @ SLP(C)Nos.28032-33/2018
    Union of India vs. Radha Yadav
    8
    request of the learned Additional Solicitor General, we, therefore, adjourn
    the matter for eight weeks only to consider the issues regarding the safety as
    highlighted by the learned amicus curiae.
  19. Ordered accordingly.
  20. In view of the order passed in the lead matter, namely, Civil Appeals
    arising out of Union of India v. Radha Yadav, Civil Appeal Nos 1267-1268
    of 2019 @ SLP(C) Nos.2993-2994 of 2019 (D.No.33760 of 2018) are
    disposed of in the same terms.
    ……..…..……..……J.
    (Uday Umesh Lalit)
    .……….……………J.
    (Indira Banerjee)
    New Delhi;
    January 29, 2019.