2020(3) ALL MR (JOURNAL) 54
Delhi High Court

JUSTICE R. K. AGRAWAL JUSTICE M. SHREESHA

K. Prabhakaran Vs. Divisional Commercial Manager, Southern Railway

Revision Petition No.1003 of 2015.

1st November 2019

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. PRAMOD KUMAR
Respondent Counsel:
Act Name: Consumer Protection Act, 1986

HeadNote : Consumer Protection Act (1986), S.12 – Compensation – Deficiency in service on part of railways – Complainant booked 16 confirmed tickets for travelling for himself and for his companions – Railways removed names of complainant and his companions from reservation chart despite their having reserved tickets – Due to act of railways complainant and his companions forced to travel in an general compartment with senior citizens and three years old baby in group – No substantial reasons given by railways for removing names of complainant and his companions from reservation chart – Deficiency in service on part of railways – Complainant entitled for compensation of Rs.25,000/- for mental agony. (Para 12)

Section :
Section 12 Consumer Protection Act, 1986

Cases Cited :

JUDGEMENT

MRS. M. SHREESHA, MEMBER :- The present Revision Petition under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (for short “the Act”) has been preferred by the Complainant against the order dated 21.11.2014 in First Appeal No. 745 of 2012 passed by the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (for short “the State Commission”). By the impugned order, the State Commission has allowed the Appeal preferred by the Divisional Commercial Manager, Southern Railway (for short “the Railways”) and set aside the order dated 26.10.2010 passed by District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Ernakulam (for short “the District Forum”) whereby the District Forum partly allowed the Complaint and directed the Railways to pay a sum of 10,000/- which include both compensation and costs within a period of one month from the date of receipt of the copy of the order, otherwise it would carry interest @ 12% p.a.

2. Briefly stated the facts of the case, as stated in the Complaint, are that the Complainant, who is a senior citizen, booked 16 tickets for the journey of his family along with his relatives from Ernakulam Junction to Kundapura by Nethravathy Express for this travel on 06.11.2009 to Mukambika Temple, Kolloor. He also booked sleeper class tickets from Uduppi to Ernakulam Junction for their return journey on 09.11.2009 by Mangala Lekshadweep Train. It is stated that after darshan at Mukambika Temple they reached at Uduppi Railway Station for their return journey on time. He checked the reservation chart but did not find their names on it. He contacted the station master immediately and showed him the original tickets but the station master did not take any action. Since there was no help from the Railway Authorities they were forced to travel in a general compartment. They suffered a lot due to negligence on the part of the Railway Authorities. He issued a notice dated 29.05.2010 but did not receive any proper reply. Aggrieved he filed a Complaint seeking the following reliefs:-
“(1) to pay a sum of Rs.2,00,000/- towards the financial loss as well as the physical and mental agony sustained by the Complainant and his group due to the deficiency of service by the Railways.
(2) to pay an amount of Rs.5000/- towards the costs of the proceedings to the Complainant.”

3. First and Second Opposite Parties i.e. General Manager and Area Manager of Southern Railway filed their Written Statement stating therein that berths as reflected on the tickets had been kept reserved for the Complainant and his companions; that station master of Uduppi does not work under their jurisdiction as he is working under the jurisdiction of Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd.; it is not known as to why the Complainant and his companions failed to occupy the berths kept reserved for them; the reservation charts are preserved only for 6 months and hence the charts of the subject train are not available with them now; the Complainant and his companion travelled in general coach without taking any extra ticket and they are not liable to pay any compensation to the Complainant.

4. After impleadment the Third Opposite Party i.e. Managing Director, Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., filed their Written Statement stating therein that the reservation chart was prepared from Delhi PRS only; they had practically no role with respect to the reservation of the Complainant; the booking charts are printed in Uduppi only; the said list of November, 2009 is not preserved and since the names of the Complainant and his companions were not there in the chart they chose to board the train in the unreserved compartment.

5. It is the case of the Revision Petitioner/Complainant that his family and friends booked 16 tickets for their travel from Ernakulam to Kundapura by Nethravathi Express for their travel on 06.11.2009 and also booked same number for return tickets from Udupi to Ernakulam Junctiuon for their return journey on 09.11.2009 by Mangala Lakshadwwp Express (Train No. 2618). On 06.11.2009, Complainant with his group consisting of a senior citizen and a 3 year old baby, for their return journey, reached at Udupi Railway Station on 09.11.2009. They were scheduled to take Mangala Express in sleeper class at 11.00 p.m. It is the Complainant’s case that when the Complainant and his group reached Uduppi Railway station well in advance, having confirmed reservation tickets with berth accommodation, they were shocked to find that their names did not figure on the reservation charts. As it was already 11.00 p.m. in the night, the Station Master on Uduppi Railway Station expressed his inability to do anything and also stated that he could not make any alternative arrangement for their comfortable journey. The Petitioner also stated in his grounds that unreserved/general compartments in the train were packed with passengers and the Complainant’s group consisting of small baby could hardly get any space to stand. The Complainant and his group suffered a lot and got served a legal notice to Railways on 29.05.2010 seeking damages, for which Railways issued a reply on 10.06.2010 seeking clarifications from their Chief Commercial Manager, Southern Railway, asking for the ticket details.

6. The Complainant in his grounds submitted that though Ex. A-1 was filed before the State Commission which evidences that the tickets were booked well in advance, the State Commission has wrongly observed that the Complainant was travelling without tickets, which was not even the case of the Railways. It was also submitted that there is no dispute with regard to the train timings in this Complaint.

7. Learned Counsel appearing for the Railways filed his Written Statement and vehemently contended that the Complainant had tried to misguide the Fora below in regard to the timings of his journey, when on the face of the ticket it was clearly printed that the new time table would be applicable w.e.f. 01.11.2009. Taking into consideration the submissions of the Revision Petitioner in his ground that there is no dispute with respect to timings, we do not find it relevant to adjudicate on the issue of timing.

8. The brief point for consideration is whether the Railways was justified in having removed the names of the Complainant and his companions from the Reservation Chart despite their having reserved tickets, forcing them to travel in an unreserved/general compartment with senior citizens and a three year old baby in the group. It was contended by the Learned Counsel appearing for the Railways that as the working chart of the trains are kept only for six months, the same could not be produced by them before the Fora below and a copy of the chart available in the computer system shows the names of the Complainant and his groups having berths in S-4 and S-5 coaches. It is also their case that the Complainant had deliberately delayed in filing the case knowing that the chart cannot be produced so belatedly. It is observed from the record that the State Commission has concluded that the Complainant did not produce any evidence that he had travelled in the general compartment.

9. At this juncture, we find it relevant to reproduce the response of Southern Railways vide letter dated 10.06.2010.
“ No. C.625/PRS/97/10. Dated: 10/06/2010
Shri R. Padmaraj,
M/s K.N.B. Nair Associates,
2 nd Floor, Morning Star Buildings,
Kacheripady, Eranakulam,
Kochi – 682018.
Sir,
Sub: Non-availability of accommodation for return journey in Mangala express of 09/11/2009 in Sleeper Class.
Ref: Your letter dated 29/05/10 jointly addressed to General Manager, Southern Railway, Chennai and Area Manager, Ernakulam.
********
With reference to your above cited letter, it is stated that you have not indicated any ticket particulars relating to the case.
Therefore, please arrange to send return journey ticket details for taking further action in the matter.”
(K.V. Varadarajan)
Sr. Commercial Manager/PRS
For Chief Commercial Manager/PM.”

10. From the afore-noted letter it is clear that all that the Commercial Manager of Southern Railways has asked was the ticket particulars. Perusal of the record shows that Ex. A-7 evidences the ticket particulars of both the onward and the return journey. The journey-cum-reservation tickets dated 09.11.2009 bearing ticket No. 06135492 and PNR No. 236-4843692, 236-4843643 and 252-7297641 evidences that the Complainants indeed at a confirmed reservation for the return journey.

11. A brief perusal of the exhibits on record i.e. Ex. A-1 which is a copy of the reserved tickets; A-2 the notice dated 29.05.2010, and Ex. A-3 which is the copy of the letter dated 10.06.2010 issued by Southern Railways and the copy of the letter dated 22.096.2010 all show that it was only the afore-noted issue with respect to deboarding that was raised. Hence the issue raised by the State Commission that the Complainant was travelling without tickets, is of no relevance as, at the cost of repetition, this was not even the case of the Railways.

12. Taking into consideration that there is no substantial or cogent reasons given by the Railways for removing the names of the Complainant from the Reservation Chart, when the ticket on record clearly substantiates that the Complainant and his group had made the reservation for 09.11.2009 well in advance on 04.10.2009, we are of the considered view that there is deficiency of service on behalf of the Railways and, therefore, the order of the State Commission is set aside and this Complaint is allowed directing the Railways to pay an amount of Rs.25,000/- as compensation for the Complainant for the mental agony suffered by the Complainant in having to travel in a general compartment together with costs of Rs.5,000/-. Time for compliance within four months from the date of the receipt of the certified copy of the order otherwise the same would carry interest @6% from the date of filing of the Complaint.

Decision : Ordered accordingly.