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M. Pandurangam Vs. the State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1962CriLJ260
AppellantM. Pandurangam
RespondentThe State
Excerpt:
.....in so depositing rent and delivering challan in the office of controller, tenant shall be deemed to have committed wilful default. - he had by over-sight or inadvertence failed to take the line clear token at vikarabad station before proceeding to the next station, gollaguda......section 47 of the indian railways act. he had by over-sight or inadvertence failed to take the line clear token at vikarabad station before proceeding to the next station, gollaguda. he had, however, taken possession of the starting permit and the caution ticket which had been sent along with the line clear token by the assistant station master of vikarabad railway station through p.w. 2, mukhaddam. it is also to be noted that the railway guard pw 4 had checked the line clear token and later given his signal for starting the train. all this proved positively that the line from vikarabad to gollaguda had been blocked and as deposed to by p.w. 3, the divisional mechanical engineer, once the section is blocked there is no possibility of another train coming from the opposite.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Basi Reddy, J.

1. It is true as found by the courts below that the petitioner had contravened Rules 120 and 362 of the general and subsidiary rules frames under Section 47 of the Indian Railways Act. He had by over-sight or inadvertence failed to take the line clear token at Vikarabad station before proceeding to the next station, Gollaguda. He had, however, taken possession of the starting permit and the caution ticket which had been sent along with the line clear token by the Assistant Station Master of Vikarabad Railway Station through P.W. 2, Mukhaddam. It is also to be noted that the Railway guard PW 4 had checked the line clear token and later given his signal for starting the train. All this proved positively that the line from Vikarabad to Gollaguda had been blocked and as deposed to by P.W. 3, the Divisional Mechanical Engineer, once the section is blocked there is no possibility of another train coming from the opposite direction.

2. At the next station i.e., Gollaguda, the Assistant Station Master P.W. 5, not having received the out-report in respect of the train in question from Vikarabad, took the line clear from the next station Shankarapalle, blocked the line between Gollaguda and Shankarapalle and handed over the line clear token to the points-Mukhaddam for being handed over to the petitioner who was the driver of the train. While hp was on the platform, the train passed Gullaguda station which was a non-stop station, and the petitioner missed picking up the line clear token from the points-Mukhaddam and stopped the train a little further up within the station limits. At that stage, the petitioner informed the points-Mukhaddam that he had left the token at Vikarabad itself. He then started the train after a few minutes and proceeded to the next station.

3. The petitioner appears to have been anxious to take the train to Secunderabad in time as the Governor was travelling by that train. In his over-anxiety, he apparently missed taking the token at Vikarabad station. That would certainly amount to a contravention of the rule, but the petitioner has been charged and convicted for an offence under Section 101(a) of the Indian Railways Act, which runs as under:

101. If a railway servant, when on duty, endangers the safety of any person-

(a) by disobeying any general rule made, sanctioned, published and notified under this Act, or

(b) xx xx x xxhe shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.

Before a conviction can be had under this section, the prosecution must prove (a) that a general rule had beep disobeyed and (b) that by reason of such disobedience, the safety of any person was endangered. The meaning of 'endanger' is 'to cause danger to', and 'danger' means, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 'liability or exposure to harm, risk, peril.' So the prosecution has t0 prove that there was at least a possibility of human life being exposed to danger by reason of the disobedience by a railway servant of any of the general rules. Actual harm need not be caused but a possibility of harm being caused would suffice.

In this case, however, both the courts below have proceeded on the footing that from the mere contravention of the rules, it must be assumed that human life was endangered. That, in my opinion, is not a correct interpretation of the section because if a breach of the rules per se were punishable under Section 101 of the Indian Railway, Act, the words 'endangers the safety of any person' occurring in Section 101 would be redundant and bereft of all force. While a contravention of the rules might justify departmental action, to sustain a charge under Section 101 of the Indian Railways Act, the prosecution must prove that by the disobedience of a general rule, the safety of any person had been imperilled. In this case, there is no such proof and in point of fact there was not even a remote possibility of human life being endangered by the action of the petitioner in starling the train without taking the line clear token.

4. In this view, this revision case is allowed. The conviction and sentence are set aside and the fine, if paid, will be refunded to the petitioner.


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