Tuesday, May 15, 2012

High Court sends back ‘illiterate’ couple’s claim suits to railway tribunal

Two “illiterate” victims of the 2005 Samlaya train accident who due to lack of knowledge about filing claim petitions fell prey to alleged unprofessional conduct of two advocates, the Gujarat High Court has sent back their claim suits to the Railway Claims Tribunal.

The tribunal had dismissed the victims’ claims while imposing fines on them after two advocates allegedly filed two separate claims for each victim before the tribunal claiming compensation of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 80,000 separately.

The two victims have been identified as Liyakatali Maniyar and his wife Gulshanbanu.

They had sustained injuries when Sabarmati Express had collided with a stationary goods train near Samlaya station in Vadodara district in April 2005. Seventeen persons were killed and more than 80 were injured in the accident.

Subsequently, the Maniyars had moved claim petitions before the Railway Claims Tribunal through advocates M B Shah and N R Kapade. Their lawyers had moved two separate claim petitions on behalf of each of them and claimed Rs 2 lakh and Rs 80,000 respectively.

On discovering this, the tribunal did not decide the petitions on merits and dismissed it on alleged fraudulent conduct of the advocates.

Later, the Maniyars approached the High Court.

Deciding to send back the matter to the tribunal, a division bench headed by Justice Akil Kureshi recently ordered the tribunal to decide the claim petitions on merits where they have demanded Rs 2 lakh as compensation.

The court also ordered to terminate the proceedings on the other two claim petitions moved by the Maniyars’ lawyers on their behalf.

“It appears that the appellants are illiterates and were not having requisite knowledge about filing of claim petitions and they were guided as per the advice of their advocates... the appellants, as might have been asked by their advocates, unknowingly allowed the advocates to present different claim petitions claiming compensation,” observed the bench.

“The Claims Tribunal, however, did not decide the petitions on merits and dealt with the petitions on alleged fraudulent conduct of the advocates. The tribunal mainly proceeded against the conduct of the advocates... The tribunal has taken the conduct of the advocates to be the ground to impose cost on the appellants though it does not appear from the order of the Claims Tribunal that it has recorded any finding about the fraudulent act on the part of the appellants,” the High Court observed.

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