Context: Families of several migrants who died on board the Shramik Specials can be given compensation under the “eggshell principle” as per a former chairman of the Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT).

More on News:

  • Pointing to a 2018 judgment of the RCT that awarded Rs 8 lakh to the kin of a passenger who died after falling off the upper berth of a train, Justice Kannan (Former RCT chairman) said - 
    • while death of a passenger due to illness alone is not a ground for compensation, the “eggshell” principle in law allows for such a compensation
  • In the 2018 case, the Railways had contended that the victim had died because he had a pre-existing illness — similar to the position it has taken in the case of the deaths on board the Shramik Special trains , however later compensation was paid.
  • There is a principle called the eggshell rule, in which a person who is already fragile comes by and an untoward incident (happens).
    • Then a normal person would not have died but this person would die. 
    • In such a situation, Railways cannot bargain for every person to arrive in perfect and robust health. 
    • So if there is a fragile eggshell, in the form of a person, he needs to be compensated.”  
  • Under the Railway Act, any passenger dying or getting injured in what is called an “untoward incident” may seek compensation.
    • Untoward incident is a term for any event, incident, occurrence or accident, which could have or did lead to unintended harm, loss or damage

Way Ahead: 

  • Close to 80 passengers have died on these trains so far, according to a list shared by Railway officials.
  • Thus there is a need to compensate the shramiks even if they have pre existing illness.
  • At a time when they are under severe financial and psychological stress, paying an adequate amount to their kin upon their death is the least a welfare state can do.

Railway Claims Tribunal:

  • The Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987 was enacted to provide speedy disposal of claims against the Railway Administration.
  • RCT Act is to provide for the establishment of a Railway Claims Tribunal for inquiring into and determining - 
    • claims against a Railway Administration for loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of animals or goods entrusted to it, to be carried by railway or 
    • the refund of fares or freight or for compensation for death or injury to passengers occurring as a result of railway accidents or untoward incidents and 
    • matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • Its principal bench is at delhi
  • The setting up of such a claims Tribunal with Benches in different parts of the country, and with judicial and technical members, provides much relief to the rail users by way of expeditious payment of compensation to the victims of rail accidents and to those whose goods are lost or damaged in rail-transit.