E.W. Hart vs E.G. Buskin And C.F. Thomas on 2 September, 1885

Calcutta High Court
E.W. Hart vs E.G. Buskin And C.F. Thomas on 2 September, 1885
Equivalent citations: (1885) ILR 12 Cal 192
Author: Wilson
Bench: Wilson, Ghose


Wilson, J.

1. The facts of this case are these: The petitioner Mr. Buskin was the holder of a monthly ticket entitling him to travel on the Eastern Bengal State Railway between Barrackpore and Sealdah. On the morning of the 29th June last, he travelled by a train from Barrackpore to Sealdah. Being asked while in the train by a ticket-collector in the service of the railway administration to show his ticket, he was unable to do so, having accidentally left it at his house in Barrackpore. The ticket-collector asked him to pay his fare and he refused. The fare from Barrackpore to Sealdah was fourteen annas. The ticket-collector knew that Mr. Buskin held a monthly ticket.

2. Application was made to the Police Magistrate of Sealdah by the Station Master of Sealdah for a summons against Mr. Buskin, in respect of a charge of having travelled without a ticket, and when asked to pay his fare refusing to do so, Sections 17 and 31 of the Indian Bail way Act (IV of 1879) being referred to. After some intermediate proceedings, on the 3rd July a summons was issued against Mr. Buskin, requiring him to attend on the 15th July, and answer a complaint charging him with having travelled without a ticket and refusing to pay his fare when asked to do so, and further with not showing his ticket and giving it up when demanded. Mr. Buskin appeared, and after some adjournments the matter was finally disposed of on the 25th July. The Magistrate having found that Mr. Buskin was unable to show his ticket on the occasion in question, said: “The defendant is, therefore, technically guilty of the omission as laid down in the Act and is fined annas 14 realizable by distress and sale if not paid.”

3. We are asked to set aside this order.

4. Upon the main question, we think the Magistrate is right, that is to say, we think Mr. Buskin was bound to pay the fare from Barrackpore to Sealdah, amounting to fourteen annas.

5. By Section 17 of the Railway Act (IV of 1879): “Every person desirous of travelling on a Railway shall, upon payment of his fare, be furnished with a ticket specifying in English and the principal vernacular language of the district in which the ticket is issued, the class of carriage for which, and the place from and place to which the fare has been paid, and the amount of such fare; and every passenger shall, when required, show his ticket to any Railway servant duly authorized to examine the same, and shall deliver up the same to any Railway servant duly authorized to collect tickets. “By Section 31” Any passenger travelling on a Railway without a proper ticket, or having such a ticket and not showing or delivering up the same when so required, under Section 17 shall be liable to pay the fare of the class in which he is found travelling from the place whence the train originally started, unless he can prove that he has travelled a less distance only, in which case he shall be liable to pay the fare of the class aforesaid only from the place whence he has travelled. Every such fare shall on application by a Railway servant to a Magistrate, and on proof of the passenger’s liability, be recoverable from such person as if it were a fine, and shall, when recovered, be paid to the Railway administration.

6. Under these sections the Railway administration is to furnish every passenger with a proper ticket; no passenger is to travel without such a ticket; every passenger is to show ox deliver up his ticket when called upon; and any passenger who fails in either of these points is liable to pay the ordinary fare for his journey, or if he cannot show where he got into the train, the ordinary fare from the starting point of the train.

7. We do not think Mr. Buskin’s case falls within the provision as to travelling without a ticket. We do not think that a passenger who has been duly furnished with a proper ticket, which is still in force and still in his possession, can be said to be travelling without a ticket, while making a journey covered by that ticket. But Mr. Buskin does seem to us to have failed to show his ticket within the meaning of the Act. There is no distinction drawn between one kind of ticket and another. Every passenger, whether a season ticket-holder or not, may be called upon to show his ticket, and if he is so called upon, and has not got his ticket with him to show, he may be required to pay the ordinary fare. We are of opinion that, having regard to the language and extent of Section 17 of the Act, Section 31 should be read thus: Any passenger travelling on a railway without being furnished with a proper, ticket, or having been furnished with such a ticket and not showing or delivering up the same when so required under Section 17, shall be liable, etc., etc. The Magistrate was therefore right in holding that Mr. Buskin was liable to pay fourteen annas, the fare from Barrackpore to Sealdah.

8. But the form of the order as described in the judgment by which Mr. Buskin is to be “fined fourteen annas” is wholly wrong. Many sections of the Bail way Act deal with frauds by passengers and other acts of wilful wrong, and these sections say that the offender is to be punished with a fine. But Section 31, dealing with innocent persons who may, like Mr. Buskin, find themselves in the wrong by mere accident, has nothing to do with punishment or penalty or fine. It simply makes a fare recoverable and recoverable in a summary way. If any final order is drawn up in this case it must order payment of fourteen annas as the fare from Barrackpore to Sealdah. In substance, however, the order of the Magistrate is correct.

9. The case of Hart v. Thomas is similar to Mr. Buskin’s in every respect except one; but that one is very material. The Magistrate has not awarded the amount of the fare, which alone he could do under the section; but has imposed an arbitrary fine of one anna. The order is therefore wrong in substance and must be set aside.

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