HC orders relief for train mishap victims
By Express News Service - CUTTACK
27th November 2012 12:21 PM
In a significant ruling, the Orissa High Court on Monday directed the Railways to eliminate unmanned level crossings within six months and pay compensation to the kin of victims who died in an accident in Sambalpur.
The court ordered Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the 14 persons, including 13 women, who were killed in the mishap at an unmanned level crossing near Sambalpur on August 24.
A bench of Chief Justice V Gopalagowda and Justice B K Mishra also awarded relief to five others injured in the mishap. While Rs 1 lakh has been awarded to one critically injured, Rs 25,000 will be paid to another injured. Two will get Rs 5,000 each while the remaining other has been awarded Rs 2,000 for medical treatment.
The court has directed the Railways to pay the money within two months along with 6 per cent interest per annum from the date of filing of the PIL on August 28.
Petitioner advocate and rights activist Prabir Das had filed the PIL seeking Rs 10 lakh compensation for the victims. The deceased were all women barring one and were from the SC community who were going to work as daily labourers. They were crossing the railway tracks in a vehicle at the unmanned level crossing when an Express train hit them.
The Railways refused to pay compensation on the grounds that the incident had taken place at an unmanned level crossing and it was in no way responsible for the accident.
The court also directed the elimination of all unmanned level crossings within six months. The Union Railways Ministry has already announced progressive elimination of the unmanned level crossings. The State Government should extend all cooperation to the Railways to ensure speedy implementation of the plans.
Till the time the unmanned level crossings are existent, the State police has been directed to deploy home guards with red flags to regulate movement of vehicles through them and prevent accidents of such kind.
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