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OVERVIEW

An order of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Committee, Thrissur, which was passed on the 15th of January, 2021, but released in April, 2021, held that three railway commuters were liable for compensation due to the loss suffered by them due to a six hour delay in their journey without prior information of the same by the Railway Authorities, or the provision of reaching their destination Payyanur to Wadakkanchery by any alternative way.

The three member bench of the Committee, comprising the President Shri C.T. Sabu, Dr. K. Radhakrishnan Nair and Smt. Sreeja S. held the opposite parties viz. Station Suprand, Wadakkanchery Railway Station and Senior Divisional Commercial Manager liable for such default on their part.

The bench held that, “it is the pious duty of the opposite parties to explain the exact reasons for the late running.”

BACKGROUND 

In the year 2013, the learned counsel Advocate Benny AD, representing the three complainants in the instant case, one MM Babu, PS George, and KM Joy, on being aggrieved by the delay in the scheduled departure of the train Mangalore Express Train No. 16347, from Wadakkanchery to Payyannur on 09/10/2013 paying Rs.705/- towards ticket charges.

The customers waited for around four hours of the arrival of the train at the station from where the train was scheduled to depart, and eventually had to find alternate ways of travel to their destination station.

During the period of waiting, the opposite parties in this case were inquired many times of the whereabouts of the train, but allegedly, they had been kept in total darkness by the accused Railway authorities. 

On applying for the refund for the tickets, such application was rejected on the ground that the ticket had to be surrendered and Ticket Deposit Receipt received at least before three hours of leaving of such train from the destined station in the case of late coming trains.

FURTHER DETAILS

The three complainants, who were the commuters of the delayed train, sought from the District Consumer Forum, a refund for the tickets, and an additional Rs. 10,000 from the Railway authorities, and also, the costs to be incurred due to such court proceedings.

The opposite parties denied all the allegations put against them, and said that the complaint was “not maintainable, either in law, or in facts.”

The opposite parties contended, “Railways is owned and managed by the Govt. of India and if such claims are entertained, it would drain the national exchequer in no time.”

The Consumer Forum, on considering the contentions of the applicants and the opposite parties, decided to consider the following two questions for arriving at the judgement:
    (a) ls there any deficiency in service on the part of opposite parties?
    (b) If yes, what are the reliefs and costs?

CONCLUSION 

The Forum held the opposite parties to be liable to pay compensation to the complainants, and observed thus, “In the absence of any contra evidence on the part of opposite parties to establish that the late running was due to a genuine reason beyond the control of the Southern Railway officials or their subordinates, this Commission has no other alternative but to fix the blame on the opposite parties alone only.”

The Consumer Forum held the opposite parties to be liable to compensation to the amount of Rs. 5,000, but did not order anything with respect to the costs.

The Forum further disallowed the refund of the tickets since they were of the opinion that the compensation amount would cover the amount that could be claimed by the complainants in case of refund of tickets.

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION REGARDING THE LIABILITY OF THE RAILWAY AUTHORITIES IN CASES OF DELAY IN TRAINS? DO LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
 

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