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Sudha Srivastava Vs. Claims Commissioner, Northern Railway and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1985)ACC9
AppellantSudha Srivastava
RespondentClaims Commissioner, Northern Railway and anr.
Cases ReferredSmt. Sundari Devi v. Union of India
Excerpt:
.....had claimed that she had identified photo no. verma we are not satisfied that death of ram naresh srivastava has been proved beyond reasonable doubt in the aforesaid accident. 11. for the reasons stated above, we are fully satisfied that the appellant has failed to establish the first issue. 16. in lokmanya's case (supra), a division bench of the bombay high court held that it is well established that the court is entitled to take judicial notice of the facts which arc of general knowledge. it is well established that when a court of fact acts on material, partly relevant and partly irrelevant, it is impossible to say to what extent the mind of the court was affected by the irrelevant material used by it in arriving at its finding. 19. matters on which judicial notice may be..........is no direct evidence to prove that sri ram naresh srivastava died as a result of the aforesaid train accident. in her application dated 13-3-1978-- ex. kha 1, the appellant has clearly stated, 'pati ka saman na milne ka karan unki yatra ke bisal me mai kuch bhi batane me asamrth hum'. from this recital, it appears that the appellant had drawn an inference that her husband had died in that accident on the basis of two facts --firstly, recovery of hand-bag and secondly, her identification of a photograph as of her husband from amongst the photographs of those who had died as a result of the accident. she further stated that she was informed that the dead body of the man whose photograph had been identified by her was taken away by birendra kumar singh, son of ram nandan singh, of.....
Judgment:

R.K. Shukla, J.

1. This first Appeal from order under Order 43, Rule 1 C.P.C. and udder Section 82-F of the Indian Railways Act is directed against the order dated 27th April, 1979 passed by the Adhoc Claims Commissioner, Northern Railway, Allahabad. By this order the claim petition filed by Smt. Sudha Srivastava was rejected and aggrieved by the same, the appellant--Smt. Sudha Srivastava has come up before us by way of this appeal.

2. The brief facts giving rise to this appeal are that 103 UP Delux Express train and UPC Special train collided at Naini Railway Station of Allahabad Division on 10th October, 1977 at 00.15 hours. The appellant through an application dated 7th January, 1978 presented on 9th January 1978 for grant of Rs. five lakhs as compensation Under Section 82F of the Indian Railways Act, alleged that her husband Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava was travelling by the aforesaid 103 UP Delux express train from Mugalsarai to Kanpur, died as a result of the collusion of the aforesaid trains on 10th October 1977. Smt. Sudha Srivastava filed claim petition No. 20 on her own behalf and as a guardian of her two minor unmarried daughters and four minor sons for the alleged death of her husband Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava, who is claimed to have been passenger on 103 UP Delux express train.

3. On the other hand, in the written statement filed by the Railway administration, it has been stated that the alleged deceased was not a bonafide passenger in the aforesaid train and that, the name of the alleged deceased is not borne out in the official list of the dead persons. It has also been denied that the applicant was a dependent of the alleged deceased. On the pleadings of the parties, the following issues were framed by the Adhoc Claims Commissioner Northern Railway Allahabad.

1. Whether Ram Naresh Srivastava was a bonafide passenger in the train which met with the accident? If so, whether he died as a result of the accident?

2. Whether the applicants are dependents of Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava?

3. To what compensation. If any, are the applicants entitled?

4. The appellant has examined herself and Sri Satya Narain Varma. She also filed some documentary evidence in support of her claim and also get summoned from the Railway administration a hand-bag containing a few books, shirt, a letter written by the applicant and a few documents belonging to Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava. The Railway administration examined two Sub-Inspectors of Police Sri B.P. Gupta and Ram Kumar Dubey who have proved two First Information Reports. One F.I.R. is dated 28-2-1977 under Section 364 Indian Penal Code at Police Station Nawabganj, Kanpur and the second F.I.R. is dated 28-1-1978 under Section 420 read with Section 468 Indian Penal Code at Police Station Qaisarbagh, Lucknow. After considering the entire evidence on record, the learned Adhoc Claims Commissioner decided all the aforesaid issues against the appellant.

5. According to the evidence on record, it appears that Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava used to work as building Contractor at Aliganj Lucknow. He had gone to Lucknow from Kanpur on 25-8-1977. On 27-8-1977 the applicant claims to have received information that some persons had abducted away her husband from Lucknow. She had lodged F.I.R. on 28-8-1977 Under Section 364 I.P.C. recording to her (applicant), Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava paid her a visit for 10 or 15 minutes in the night between 3/4-9-1977 probably at 2 A.M. or 2.30 A.M. and had told her that he was proceeding to Ranchi. From the recitals in the letter of the appellant addressed to her husband found in the hand bag, it is clear that the appellant and her husband were apprehending that cases would be instituted against the latter. Sri R.K. Dubey has stated that the case Under Section 420/468 IPC is under investigation as the accused is absconding.

6. Issue No. 1 is the mate issue in this case. The first and most important point in this connection is whether Ram Naresh Srivastava was a bonafide, passenger in the ill-fated 103 UP Delux express train, which met with an accident on 10th October 1977 at 0015 hours, and whether he died as a result of that accident? In this connection, the appellant produced Sri S.N. Varma, aged about 12 years, resident of Nawabganj, Kanpur, who retired from the post of Agriculture Inspector about some 16 years age. According to Sri Verma, he had gone from Kanpur to Varanasi on 8-10-1977 to pay a visit to his daughter who lives in Varanasi. He returned to Kanpur from Varanasi on 13-10-1977. He knew Ram Naresh Srivastava resident of Nawabganj, Kanpur and met last time in Varanasi. In the night of 9-10-1977, he went to Mughalsarai Station to see-off Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava. He purchased a second class railway ticket from Mughalsarai to Kanpur and saw Ram Naresh Srivastava board on the ill-fated train i.e. 103 UP Delux Express. According to Sri Varma, the ticket Collector had assured that he would prepare a reservation ticket in the way. When the train started from Mughalsarai, he returned to Varanasi.

7. In the cross-examination, he stated that Ram Naresh was about 35 to 37 years old. He came to know about this accident through news paper on 10-10-1977. He returned from Varanasi to Kanpur on 13-10-1977 and met Sri Raj Nath Sinha, father of the appellant on 14-10-1977. He told Mr. Raj Nath Sinha that he saw Ram Naresh Srivastava board the train which met with an accident. Sri Rajnath Sinha had told him that he would go to Station and find out. After 2-3 days, Sri Rajnath Sinha had told him that a telegram had come to take the luggage of Ram Naresh Srivastava. According to Mr. Verma, Sri Raj Nath Sinha might have gone to Allahabad four or five days after his talk on 14-10-1977. On a consideration of the above, it does not look probable that a retired person, 72 years of age would have gone from Varanasi to Mughalsarai in the month of October at night time to see off a young man aged about 36 years, who was not relation of his. Why should Shri Ram Naresh, a young man aged about 36 years, cot buy the train ticket himself, particularly when he does all the arduous work of a building contractor. This does not appear to be, natural or believable. It is also not clear : from, the evidence as to when, where and at what time Ram Naresh Srivastava had met Sri S.N. Varma on 9-10-1977. It is also not clear whether the ticket was purchased by Sri. S.N. Verma from his own purse or from the purse of Ram Naresh Srivastava, From the evidence, it is clear that he came to know about this incident through news papers on 10-10-1977. If he was so interested to go to Mughalsarai Station in the night of October to see off Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava then it was natural for him to find out whether Ram Naresh Srivastava was also involved in that accident or not. He had taken no step in this direction till 13th October 1977 at Varanasi. On 13th, he may have returned from Varanasi to Kanpur by train. He again did not take any step to find out whether Ram Naresh Srivastava of his Mohalla Nawabganj, Kanpur was involved in the accident either at Mughalsarai or at Varanasi or at Allahabad or anywhere in the way. Even after his reaching Kanpur, he did not go to the house of Ram Naresh Srivastava which is situated in the same mohalla Nawabganj, where he himself resides. It was only on the 14th October, 1977 that he told Rajnath Sinha that he had seen off Ram Naresh in the very train which met with the accident. The purpose of the visit to Varanasi has not been disclosed either, by Sri Verma or the appellant; The whole conduct of Shri Verma appears to us to be absolutely unnatural, artificial and made only for the purposes Of the case. Therefore in our opinion, no reliance can be placed on his evidence that he saw off Ram Naresh in the ill fated train on 9th October, 1977 as stated by him.

8. Shri Raj Nath Sinha, father of the appellant, to whom Shri Verma narrated the story of seeing off Shri Ram Naresh at Mughalsarai Station, on the 14th October, 1977 has not been produced in Court. No attempt was made by the appellant or by Raj Nath Sinha to inquire about Ram Naresh inspite of the information given on the 14th October, 1977 by Shri Verma and even after the receipt of the telegram by the appellant on the 17th October, 1977. She came to Allahabad, seven days after her father was informed, i.e. on the 21st October. This inaction on the part of the appellant and her father and the fact that they did not proceed to Allahabad immediately after the receipt of the information Shri Verma and the telegram appears in the circumstances of the case to be highly unnatural and improper. It was only after even days from the receipt of information after the receipt of the telegram to the appellant came to Allahabad. Smt. Sudha Srivastava, appellant is not the witness of the fact that Ram Naresh Srivastava had travelled by the ill-fated train. She did not have any personal knowledge about it. Further, from her own F.I.R. it is also clear that the applicant and her husband were apprehending some case to be instituted against the latter.

9. There is no direct evidence to prove that Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava died as a result of the aforesaid train accident. In her application dated 13-3-1978-- Ex. kha 1, the appellant has clearly stated, 'Pati Ka Saman Na Milne Ka Karan Unki Yatra Ke Bisal Me Mai Kuch Bhi Batane Me Asamrth Hum'. From this recital, it appears that the appellant had drawn an inference that her husband had died in that accident on the basis of two facts --firstly, recovery of hand-bag and secondly, her identification of a photograph as of her husband from amongst the photographs of those who had died as a result of the accident. She further stated that she was informed that the dead body of the man whose photograph had been identified by her was taken away by Birendra Kumar Singh, son of Ram Nandan Singh, of district Nalanda (Bihar). In Ex. kha 1, there is also recital to this effect. In the application dated 24-10-1977 (paper No. 5-C) addressed to the Divisional Superintendent, Northern Railway, Allahabad from Smt. Sudha Srivastava, copy of which was also endorsed to the Adhoc Claims Commissioner, the appellant had claimed that she had identified photo No. 85 as that of her husband. But in her statement in the trial, the appellant has totally given up her case setup in the aforesaid paper No. 5-C and Ex. kha 1 that she had identified the photograph of her husband from amongst the photographs of the dead bodies of those who had died as a result of accident. Under these circumstances, merely on the basis of recovery of hand bag belonging to Ram Naresh Srivastava containing some of his articles it cannot be said that he died in the aforesaid accident.

10. From the statement of Sri R.K. Dubey, S.I. (D.W. 2) it appears that one Sri B.L. Yadav, Executive Engineer tiled a written report against Sri R.N. Srivastava Under Section 420/468 IPC on 28-1-1978 at P.S. Quaisar Bagh, Lucknow. Sri Dubey is investigating that case. Search of Ram Naresh Srivastava is going on and he was absconding to avoid arrest. From the evidence of Sri B.P. Gupta, S.I. it appears that Smt. Sudha Srivastava had also filed an F.I.R U, s 364 IPC at P.S. Nawabganj, Kanpur against. Yogendra Singh, Tilak Singh, Satish Chandra Agarwal and an owner of Silk Mill on 28-8-1977 for kidnapping husband she has also admitted in her statement about this fact that she had actually lodged the above F.I.R. S.I. Sri B.P. Gupta further stated that the basis of the above F.I.R., the case was registered at P.S. Nawabganj and the matter was investigated by Amar Singh Chauhan, S.H.O. Final report dated 28-8-1978 was sent to court which has been accepted by the Munsif Magistrate, Nawabganj on 30-8-1978. After going through the statements of these two Police Officers and the evidence of Smt. Sudha Srivastava, and Sri S N. Verma we are not satisfied that death of Ram Naresh Srivastava has been proved beyond reasonable doubt in the aforesaid accident.

11. For the reasons stated above, we are fully satisfied that the appellant has failed to establish the first issue. Therefore, both the parts of this issue are decided in the negative.

12. So far as the second issue is concerned, there is no dispute that the appellant is the wife of Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava and her minor sons and daughters are by Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava. Had Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava died in the aforesaid accident, all of them would have been his dependents. Therefore, this issue is decided accordingly.

13. So far as the third issue is concerned, in view of our finding on the first issue, the appellant is not entitled for any compensation Under Section 82F of the Indian Railway Act. Section 82F has prescribed certain requirements as preliminary to the requisition of benefit conferred by the statute and such prescriptions are mandatory for getting its advantage. Since it is not proved that Sri Ram Naresh Srivastava was a bonafide passenger and he died as a result of the aforesaid accident, the appellant is not entitled to any compensation.

14. Learned Counsel for the appellant has urged that the Adhoc Claims Commissioner, who also decided the claim arising out of the accident of one R.N. Singh of Nalanda (Bihar) has wrongly utilized his knowledge derived from the evidence of that case No. 3 of 1978, which is not permissible. In support of his contention, he has cited four decisions namely M. Lakshmayya and Anr. v. Sri Rajah Varadaraja Apparow Bahadur and Ors. (Indian Law Reports-Madras Series, Vol XXXVI-168); The Lokamanya Mills Barsi Limited Barsi v. Barsi Municipal Council Barsi and Ors. : AIR1968Bom229 ; Abida Khatoon and Anr. v. State of U.P. and Ors. : AIR1963All260 and Dhirajlal Girdharilal v. Commissioner of Income Tax, Bombay, : [1954]26ITR736(SC) .

15. In M. Lakshmayya's case (supra), question of interpretation of words 'nature of savaram land' was involved. The District Judge imported his own knowledge which he acquired as Revenue Officer and as revenue court for believing the evidence of plaintiff's witness rather than defendant's 3 witnesses. A Division Bench of the Madras High Court held that the facts for which the District Judge had such knowledge are merely facts of economical history and that he had not acted illegally in relying on it.

16. In Lokmanya's case (supra), a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court held that it is well established that the Court is entitled to take judicial notice of the facts which arc of general knowledge. Their Lordships took judicial notice of three facts--(1) land values differ very materially in different towns in which municipalities are established under the Boroughs Act (2) different types of mills and factories require different types of buildings and that their relative values do not very according to their floor area and (3) buildings of mills and factories are new and some are old and that the value of a building decreases with its age, and held that the impugned provisions were ex facie discriminatory.

17. In Abida Khatoon's case (supra) Mr. Justice S.S. Dhawan of this High Court has held as under:.a Court can take judicial notice of what are known as 'notorious facts' but the question whether the conditions in U. P. in February, 1950, so far as communal disturbances were concerned, were fully settled is a matter of opinion and somewhat controversial. The Court cannot smuggle into the evidence its own opinion of controversial situations disguised as notorious facts.

18. In Dhirajlal's case(supra) the Supreme Court was called upon to decide as to when decision on question of fact gives rise to the question of law in connection with Section 66 of the Income Tax Act. 1922. In that case, the Supreme Court has held as under:

It is well established that when a Court of fact acts on material, partly relevant and partly irrelevant, it is impossible to say to what extent the mind of the Court was affected by the irrelevant material used by it in arriving at its finding. Such a finding is vitiated because of the use of inadmissible material and thereby an issue of law arises.

19. Matters on which judicial notice may be taken by Courts have been very well described in the American Jurisprudence, volume 20, Article 18 as under:

Matters of common knowledge. The matters of which a court will take judicial notice must be a subject of common and general knowledge. In other words, judicial knowledge of facts is measured by general knowledge of the same facts. A fact is said to be generally recognized or known when its existence or operation is accepted by the public without qualification or contention. The test is whether sufficient notoriety attaches to the fact involved as to make it proper to assume its existence without proof. The fact that a belief is not universal, however, is not controlling, for there is scarcely any belief that is accepted by everyone. These matters familiarly known to the majority of mankind or to those persons familiar with the particular matter in question are properly within the concept of judicial notice. Judicial knowledge is continually extended to keep pace with the advance of art, science, and general knowledge.

20. Following the ratio of above mentioned cases and authorities, there is no doubt that Adhoc Claims Commissioner, Northern Railway was not light to rely on Specific facts not proved by the evidence in the instant case but known to him personally because he tried the other claim case of one Ram Dulari for the loss occasioned in the above accident of her husband Sri Ram Naresh Singh of Nalanda which was registered as claim case No. 3 of 1978. Although the Adhoc Claims Commissioner, Northern Railway has casually mentioned those facts in addition to strong then his arguments in the end but we, as court of appeal, have completely ignored those facts which have been taken into consideration from claim case No. 3 of 1978. We have strictly confined Ourselves to the evidence available on the record. After careful examination of the evidence on record, completely ignoring the finding of the learned Adhoc Claims Commissioner, Northern Railway, Allahabad, we have come to our own conclusion as Court of appeal that neither Ram Naresh Srivastava was bonafide passenger in the ill-fated 103 UP Delux Express train nor it can be said that his death has been proved in the train accident in question beyond reasonable doubt. After arriving at this conclusion, we have no option but to hold that appellant is not entitled to any compensation.

21. In a recent decision in Smt. Sundari Devi v. Union of India 1984 AWC 438, Full Bench of this Court has held that compensation can be claimed only in respect of a person who was a bonafide passenger. Anybody who did not have a ticket or valid pass or travel document cannot be held to be a bonafide passenger.

22. In view of the above decision, the appellant had to prove beyond doubt that her husband Ram Naresh Srivastava, for whom she was claiming compensation, was actually travelling by the ill fated train and that he died as a result of aforesaid accident and that he was a bonafide passenger. None of these facts has been established in this case. Consequently, the appellant is not entitled for any claim.

23. Having examined the record of the case, we are satisfied that the appeal has no merits whatsoever and it must fail for the above reason. The question whether the appellant was dependent of Ram Naresh Srivastava and was entitled to compensation does not arise as it is found that there was no proof that Ram Naresh Srivastava was a bonafide passenger and had died in the aforesaid train accident.

24. For the reasons indicated above, we find no force in this appeal which is accordingly dismissed. However, there will be no order as to costs.


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