Mr Peer Ahmad from Kadapa lost his 19-year-old son who was working with BSF; Mr Venkata Narasimha Rao from Krishna district lost his father; Mr N. Narender from Hyderabad lost his eye when miscreants threw stones at a moving train. There are thousands of such cases wherein people have lost life and limb during rail travel. There are also crores worth of losses or damage incurred by companies due to inefficient delivery of goods by the railways.
Due to the apathy of the railway ministry in appointing judges for the Railway Claims Tribunal Bench of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, many cases are pending before the Bench. More than 4,000 cases that were lodged between 2005 and 2015 are pending as people and companies await justice and compensation. Many accident victims have not even been called for a single hearing. On Tuesday many such victims conducted a protest outside the tribunal's office in Lalaguda.
Mr N. Panduranga Rao of the Railway Claims Tribunal Advocates Association said that the Hyderabad Bench had one of the highest numbers of pending cases in the country. The Bench has two members. While the judicial member retired in November 2013, the technical member retired in June this year. Even though both retired, the Hyderabad Bench lumbered on as cases used to be heard by judges deputed for short periods from tribunal benches of other states.
For a while some of the cases were heard by the former chairman of the principal Bench, New Delhi, Justice G.V. Seethapathy, until he retired last month. With the chairman also retired, there is no one to take up the cases now. Deputation has also stopped. Mr Rao said, “Every time we contact the Railway Ministry and ask about appointment of judges for the Hyderabad Bench and about the chairman for the principal Bench, we are told that even they do not have any idea." Another advocate, Mr M. Giri Kumar, said, “The victims call us and get angry at us for the delay in the hearings. But we are helpless."