Chapter XIII of the Railways Act on "Liability of Railway Administration for death or injury to passengers due to accidents" defines an "untoward incident" as including "the making of a violent attack"? "by any person ?? in a waiting hall, cloak room or reservation or booking office or any platform or in any other place within the precincts of a railway station".
The Commission also observed that a rape is a violent act under any definition. This rape was committed within the precincts of a railway station, as defined under the Act. Section 124A of the Railways Act lays down that in the event of an untoward incident, irrespective of whether there has been any wrongful act, negligence or default on the part of the railway administration?.. "the railway administration shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, be liable to pay compensation to such extent as may be prescribed?..".
While such claims would ordinarily be made to the Claims Tribunal, Section 128 of the Act lays down that 'the right of any person to claim compensation under Section 124 1 (or Section 124 A) shall not affect the right of any such person to recover compensation payable under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 (8 of 1923), or any other law for the time being in force.'
Subsequently, the Commission issued a notice to the Railway Board to show cause why monetary relief should not be paid to the victim. In response, the Railway Board reiterated its earlier stand and said that the victim should not be paid relief on the following grounds:
a) The victim was not having a journey/platform ticket at the time of the incident, she was not a passenger and the case may not come in the ambit of Railway Claims Tribunal for payment of compensation;
b) A criminal case has been registered against the culprits and the accused constable, who had been dismissed from the service, was still in the judicial custody; and
c) The case being sub-judice, the Commission should keep making recommendation pending till its finalization by the court.
Setting aside the contention of the Railway Board, the NHRC said that the victim, who suffered grievous harm, was certainly entitled to relief for violation of her human rights and made the following observations:
1) The Commission issued a notice in the matter under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which empowers it to make recommendations in case of violation of human rights;
2) A recommendation for violation of human rights can be made by the Commission irrespective of conclusion of the trial of the case.
In response, the Railway Board paid Rs.5 Lakh as monetary relief to the victim and also sent the proof of payment.
The Commission registered the case on the basis of a complaint filed by a human rights activist.