L. Narasimha Reddy, J.
1. This C.M.A. arises out of the order dated 15-09-2003 passed by the Railway Claims Tribunal, Secunderabad, in O.A.A. No. 70 of 1994. This is the second round of adjudication in the matter.
2. The appellant filed a claim petition before the Tribunal alleging that he holds a season ticket to travel from Hindupur to Anantapur. He alleged that he slipped down accidentally on 3-12-1993 from the train bearing No. 7086, at Anantapur Railway Station, when the train was about to halt. He claimed a compensation of Rs. 1,50,000/-, alleging that he sustained serious injuries resulting in amputation of the right leg and left foot. The respondent disputed the claim of the appellant. Its main contention was that, as on the date of the accident, the provisions of the Railways Act (hereinafter referred to as "the Act") did not provide for payment of any compensation for accidental fall.
3. Through its judgment dated 20-12-1995, the Tribunal accepted the contention of the respondent and rejected the claim. The appellant filed A.A.O. No. 638 of 1996 before this Court, aggrieved by the judgment of the Tribunal. The appeal was dismissed by the learned single Judge of this Court. However, in L.P.A. No. 97 of 2002, a Division Bench of this Court set aside the order of learned single Judge and remanded the matter for fresh consideration, in the light of the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Union of India v. Rangila Ram, . After remand, the Tribunal passed the present order.
4. Sri B.S. Venkat Ramesh, learned counsel for the appellant submits that though the provisions of the Act did not provide for compensation for accidental slips as on the date of the accident, Section 123(c) of the Railways Act was amended with effect from 1-8-1994, providing for compensation for accidental slip also. He submits that by the time the Tribunal took up the matter for adjudication in the first round itself, the amendment was very much in force, and the mater ought to have been decided in the light of the amendment. He relies upon the judgments of this Court as well as the Supreme Court.
5. Sri B.H.R. Choudary, learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submits that the amendment was prospective in operation, and it cannot be made applicable to accidents which took place prior to the date, from which the amendment came into force. He too relies upon certain judgments in support of his contention.
6. The appellant sustained injuries in an accident on account of fall from a train on 03-12-1993. He claimed compensation of Rs. 1,50,000/- by filing O.A.A. No. 70 of 1994. There is no dispute that as on the date of the accident, the law, namely, the Railways Act, or any Rules made thereunder, did not provide for payment of compensation for such injuries.
7. When the matter was pending before the Tribunal Section 123(c) of the Act was amended with effect from 01-08-1994. An incident of "accidental falling" falling of any passenger from a train, carrying passengers was brought within the definition of "untoward incident". Section 124A of the Act was also amended, providing for payment of compensation to the victims of such accidents. The only question that arises for consideration in this appeal is, as to whether the amended provisions of the Act apply to the facts of the case.
8. After remand of the matter, the Tribunal has undertaken an extensive discussion with reference to the amended provisions as well as decided cases. It mainly relied upon the judgments of the Supreme Court in M/s Punjab Tin Supply Co., v. Central Government, and Vijayalakshmi Rice Mills v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1976 SC 1471 for the proposition that the provisions of a substantive law are always be prospective in operation. Thereby, it rejected the claim.
9. At the outset, it needs to be observed that, in the two judgments relied upon by the Tribunal, it was clearly indicated that presumption against retrospectivity of a provision operates, particularly in cases where the newly enacted provision takes away vested rights, or creates new disabilities, or imposes fresh obligations. Such a situation does not exist in the present case. The amended provisions of Sections 123(c) and 124A provide for compensation to the victims of accidents. Therefore, the provisions are beneficial in nature.
10. The question as to when the operation of a provision can be said to be retrospective, was extensively dealt with by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Mithilesh Kumari v. Prem Behari Khare, . It related to the interpretation of the provisions of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988. It was held therein that a provision cannot be said to be operating in retrospectively, simply because it is made applicable to transactions, or actions, which have already taken place. Further a clear distinction was maintained between the provisions, which are enacted for the benefit of individuals, and those, which impose obligations. The relevant portion of the judgment reads as under:
"However, a statute is not properly called a retrospective statute because a part of the requisites for its action is drawn from a time antecedent to its passing. The general scope and purview of the statute and the remedy sought to be applied must be looked into and what was the former state of law and what the legislation contemplated has to be considered. Every law that impairs or takes away rights vested agreeably to existing laws is retrospective, and is generally unjust and may be oppressive. But laws made justly and for the benefit of individuals and the community as a whole may relate to a time antecedent to their commencement. The presumption against retrospectivity may in such cases be rebutted by necessary implications from the language employed in the statute. It cannot be said to be an invariable rule that a statute could not be retrospective unless so expressed in the very terms of the section which had to be construed. The question is whether on a proper construction the legislature may be said to have so expressed its intention".
11. From the above, it is evident that the guiding factors to decide as to whether a provision is to be treated as prospective or retrospective, are the nature of the provision and the intention of the legislature. A similar question, as in the present case, arose before this Court, in relation to interpretation of Section 92-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. Through this provision, what is generally referred to as "no fault liability", was introduced. The amendment came into force with effect from 01-10-1982. The question arose, as to whether the provision can be applied to cases in which the accidents occurred prior to 01-10-1982, in case the adjudication of the claim was pending as on that date. In T. Srinivasulu Reddy v. Govardhana Naidu, 1990 ACJ 66, a Division Bench of this Court held that the benefit under Section 92-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, can be extended to the accidents, which occurred prior to the date of amendment, provided that the adjudication of the claim was pending before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal as on the date on which the amendment came into force. The principle enunciated in Mithilesh Kumari's case (3 supra) was applied. Reference was also made to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ram Sarup v. Munshi, . In that it was held that, if the language employed in the provision indicates or permits, it can be applied even at the stage of appeal. The relevant portion reads as under:
"If the new law speaks in language which, expressly or by clear intendment, takes in even pending matters, the court of trial as well as the court of appeal may give effect to such a law even after the judgment of the court of first instance".
12. In the recent past, the Supreme Court dealt with Section 123-c and 124-a of the Railways Act. In Rathi Menon v. Union of India, , the Hon'ble Supreme Court reviewed the case law on the subject, and ultimately held that the benefits under the amended provisions are available, even to those cases in which the accident occurred prior to the amendment, and that the law in force at the time of the adjudication of the claim has to be applied. It is apt to extract the ratio of that case:
"From all these, we are of the definite opinion that the claims Tribunal must consider what the Rules prescribed at the time of making the order for payment of the compensation".
13. In M. Parameshwaran Pillai v. Union of India, 2002 (5) ALD 122 (SC), the Supreme Court followed the decision in Rathi Minon v. Union of India (6 supra).
14. The matter can be examined from another angle. The Tribunal was constituted under the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987. Under Section 1-A of that Act, the Tribunal was conferred with the power, to adjudication all matters involving claims against Railways. Prior to that enactment, the jurisdiction was conferred on civil Courts. All the suits or other proceedings, which were pending before the Courts, functioning within the territorial jurisdiction of the Tribunal, as on the notified date, stood transferred to the Tribunal. Invariably, the accidents took place, in all the pending matters, prior to the enactment of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act 1987 or under Section 1-A. If the contention of the respondent that the provisions have to operate prospectively in a strict sense, the various cases pending in civil Court could not have been transferred to the Tribunal, because the cause of action in those cases arose prior to such enactment.
15. In Union of India v. Gayatri Srivastava, 2003 ACJ 486, a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court took a similar view and further held that the beneficial piece of legislation should receive a label construction.
16. From the above, it is clear that the appellant is entitled for the benefit of the amended provisions of section 123(c) and 124-A. Had it been a case, where the nature of liability is in a fixed pattern, this Court would have examined the feasibility of granting the relief here itself. However, in this case, findings as to the nature of injury and relevant criteria to be adopted for awarding compensation etc., need to be recorded on the basis of evidence. The Tribunal did not address itself to such questions, because it proceeded on the assumption that the appellant is not entitled for the benefit of the amended provisions. A Division Bench of this Court, in Union of India v. K. Balakrishnaiah, laid down the principles for deciding the liability arising under Sections 123(c) and 124-A of the Act. The Tribunal has to decide the claim of the appellant vis-is the respondent, in accordance with the said principles.
17. Hence, the order under appeal is set aside, and the matter is remanded to the Tribunal for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of injuries and awarding of compensation, in accordance with the relevant provisions of law.