16 Years On, Rs 10 Lakh Relief for Amputee
CHENNAI: Sixteen years after a man lost both his legs and a hand due to the ‘inhuman’ act of a Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) who pushed him down from a moving train, a consumer court has directed the Union government to pay `10.6 lakh as compensation to the victim.
S C Mariappan, a resident of Mylapore and aged 22 then, had purchased an unreserved ticket and boarded the Nellai Express at Rajapalayam on January 9, 1998. As there was heavy rush in the general coaches, when the train halted at Sivakasi he tried to board a reserved coach to approach the TTE for allotment of a seat in the coach. According to Mariappan, Haridoss, who was posted as TTE, pushed him down even as the train started moving, slammed the door of the coach and bolted it. While Mariappan’s relative Muthukrishnan, who was accompanying him, fell on the platform, Mariappan slipped between the platform and the train and fell on the track.
The train ran over his legs and left hand before a passenger halted it by pulling the emergency chain. After nearly three months of treatment by spending over `10 lakh, both the legs and left hand of Mariappan were amputated. Having suffered 100 per cent disability, he lost his job and became dependent on others. He filed a suit claiming compensation with the TN State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in 1999, after notices to the Railways and Haridoss failed to yield any response.
After dragging for over a decade, the case was transferred from the State Commission to the District Consumer Disputed Redressal Forum, Chennai North, in 2013. The Union government, represented by the General Manager of the Southern Railway, contended that it is not liable to compensate the victim since the accident occurred because of the victim’s carelessness in boarding a running train. It disputed the claim that the victim was pushed down forcefully as TTE Haridoss was a differently-abled person. The Railways also contended that the consumer court has no jurisdiction to hear the case and the claim for compensation could be filed only before the Railways Claims Tribunal.
However, the forum, presided by R Mohandoss and T Kalaiyarasi as member, rejected the contentions of the
Railways. Based on the account of a passenger, the forum held that the inhuman attitude of Haridoss as the reason for the accident. It noted that the accident could have been avoided if Haridoss was “prudent enough without closing the door of the compartment so forcibly”.
As plaintiff Mariappan did not submit any proof of the salary he was drawing, the forum calculated the compensation assuming `6,000 as his monthly salary. (Compensation is usually calculated based on the earning capacity of the victim).
It directed the Union government to pay `10.6 lakh as compensation along with an interest of 9 per cent on the amount calculated from January 31, 2001.