The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed Western Railway to pay a compensation of over Rs 68 lakh to a man who suffered 100 per cent disability in a freak accident at a railway station in Maharashtra, apart from bearing his entire medical expenses. The apex consumer commission has asked the railways to pay the compensation to Maharashtra native Vinod Sharma, while dismissing its plea against Maharashtra State Commission’s order. “The Consumer Protection Act is a beneficial legislation, specially enacted for the protection of consumers and provides an additional remedy in the shape of Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act, which clearly lays down that the provisions of the Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the provisions of any other law for the time being in force,” the consumer bench headed by member BC Gupta said.
According to the complaint, on 13 May 2010, Sharma was injured when a heavy wooden plank/ sleeper fell on his head, while he was on the platform at Churchgate Railway Station, causing grievous brain injury and multiple skull fracture with spontaneous unconsciousness.
The State Commission concluded that Sharma was not in a position to do any work and his functional disability was 100 per cent, after perusing a report by a panel of doctors appointed by the commission to examine Sharma. The state forum had directed the railways to pay Rs 6,287,040 as compensation, Rs 5 lakh for his pain, suffering, mental agony and loss of amenities, and Rs 15,000 as cost of litigation to him.
During the hearing, the railways apprised the apex consumer commission that they had spent around Rs 28 lakh for Sharma’s medical treatment. The department also contended that the case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the consumer fora and that the proper forum for the purpose was the Railway Claims Tribunal, as the injury had been effected on the railway premises itself.