Gujarat HC refuses to exercise jurisdiction over writs

The Gujarat High Court has ruled that the Railway Claims Tribunal has jurisdiction to adjudicate freight disputes for the transportation of goods and any disputes relating thereto, including the imposition of punitive charges.

The finding was made by Justice AS Supehia while hearing a written petition raising a dispute over the freight charges charged by the petitioner’s railways between two stations. This is the case of the petitioner who paid regular freight charges to the railway and these were also accepted, and later additional freight charges were created.

On a specific question raised by the Court relating to the remedy available to the Claimant to approach the Claims Tribunal by making an appropriate application under section 13 of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act 1987, the petitioner had cited a divisional bench order to argue that the motion in writ would be maintainable.

However, on reading the Bench Division judgment, the High Court noted that the issue of whether to file a claim under Section 13 of the Act had not been raised or decided.

Thus, the High Court remanded the Supreme Court’s decision in Shree Shyam Agency Vs. Union of India and Ors where it was held that railway claims A tribunal was established to investigate and determine the claims against the railway administration in the event of loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of the animals or goods entrusted to him, or reimbursement of fares or freight or for compensation for death or injury of passengers as a result of railway accidents or untoward incidents, etc.

Bench also referred to SArticle 36 of the law stipulates that complaints can be lodged against the administration of the railways if it charges an unreasonable rate for the transport of goods between two stations.

In this context, the High Court refused to quash the formal notices issued by the senior commercial manager of the division to the tune of Rs. 51 lacs and relegated the parties to avail themselves of an alternative remedy.

In the present case, there is a dispute concerning the freight paid by this petitioner and determined by the railways. The claimant’s case will fall under sub-section (b) of Article 13, which relates to claims for reimbursement of fairs or any part thereof or reimbursement of any “freight” paid for goods entrusted to the administration of the railways to be transported by the railways.

Thelma J. Longworth