The Railways (Amendment) Bill, 2014, seeks to provide clarity on "accidental falling" from trains to curb misuse of existing provisions and also prevent false claims.
    
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that usually a bill is never sent to Standing Committee after discussion and reply by the Minister, "But we are sending it to the committee keeping the sense of the House in mind."
    
The bill, introduced on August 7, was taken up for discussion and passage after Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda explained reasons for the proposed amendment.
     
But there was strong attack from members cutting across party lines in the opposition to the bill saying the railways was trying to shed its responsibility in paying compensation to accident victims.      
During the debate on the bill, the opposition targeted the government for its move to amend the definition of 'accidental falling' in Railways Act.
     
Gowda said that the number of false claims has been increasing manifold and the proposed amendments would help to curb such claims.
     
According to Gowda, even the claims tribunals have observed that there should be more clarity in the Act to curb false claims and accidental falling need to be defined.
     
Citing statistics, he said the number of claims rose to over 8,150 during 2010-11 from 136 in 1994-95. During that time, the claims amount jumped to Rs 164 crore from Rs 26 lakh, he said.
     
Congress member KC Venugopal, who initiated the debate, said the move is "quite objectionable".

Railways (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in the Parliament on 7th August 12, 2014
The amendment seeks to change the definition of ‘accidental falling’ in the railways
We are sending it to the committee keeping the sense of the House in mind: Venkaiah Naidu
Number of false claims has been increasing manifold and the proposed amendments would help to curb such claims: Railway Minister
Railways trying to shed its responsibility in paying compensation to accident victims: say opposing voices

"Railways is trying to take decision that is against the will and wish of people," he said and wondered how it can withdraw from its moral responsibility of providing compensation to rail accident victims.

Dubbing the Bill as anti-people, Trinamool Congress member Aparupa Poddar said that the proposed amendment would make it difficult for poor people to seek claims in case of rail accidents.
     
She said that an enquiry committee should look into 'accidental falling' cases and ascertain whether it has been caused by negligence or not. There should also be a time frame for giving compensation to the victims, she added.
     
AIADMK member Panneeselvam said that it should be ensured that amendments do not cause more difficulties for passengers.
    
"Who will decide death happened by negligence (or not)," he wondered and urged the government to look into all issues related to the amendment with all seriousness.
    
Railway Minister V Sadananda Gowda said that the number of false claims has been increasing manifold and the proposed amendments would help to curb such claims.
    
Noting that existing provisions of the Act are being misused for making false claims, Gowda said the amendments would bring down such claims and also benefit the Railways.
    
The bill, which seeks to amend the Railways Act, 1989, aims to categorize the cases of 'accidental falling' from trains to enable the national transporter to ensure its liability whether there is any fault on its part.
    
According to Railways, it is being made liable to pay compensation even when there is no fault on its part in cases of passengers falling down from trains due to their own negligence, carelessness and misadventure.
    
During the debate, Dharmendra Yadav (SP) urged the government to withdraw the bill as it was anti-people and would deprive poor passengers from getting compensation.
    
Yadav was supported by Kaushalendra Kumar (JD-U) who wanted to know how many persons have taken multiple claims which the government sought to prevent through the new law.
    
M Ramachandran (Cong) too demanded that either the bill be reviewed or sent to the select committee for detailed scrutiny.
    
Tathagata Satpathy (BJD) suggested that the government should not give too much authority to the railways to decide on compensation to the victims of rail accidents.
    
Shrikant Shinde (Shiv Sena) said that it was the responsibility of the railways to prevent overcrowding in rail coaches which often leads to accidents and deaths of passengers.

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