The apex consumer commission has set aside lower fora orders asking Railways to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to a couple for their stolen baggage, saying they failed to raise an alarm after the alleged theft. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) also said that the decision of the foras awarding the compensation to Andhra Pradesh native Kadambari Rama Joga Rao and his wife Kadambari Tara Devi, was clearly “perverse in the eyes of law”.
The NCDRC said that the orders passed by the district forum, duly confirmed by the State Commission in appeal, do not reflect correct appreciation of facts and circumstances. “The two consumer fora below have not mentioned even a word as to how they concluded that the Railways were liable to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation for the ornaments, whereas in the FIR itself, the value of the ornaments has been stated to be only Rs 3 lakh.”
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According to the complaint, the couple were travelling to Bhubaneswar from Visakhapatnam on February 8, 2001 and when the train halted at a station around 6.20 pm, two unauthorised women aged about 45 years and 17 years entered their compartment and lifted the handbag of the complainant containing cash of Rs 3,500 and gold, diamond items of Rs 5 lakh.
“The complainants could have alerted the RPF personnel to apprehend the two women, who are stated to have lifted the handbag of the couple, but nothing of that sort was done by the complainants. As already stated, there is no mention about raising any alarm etc. at the time of the incident, which was 6.20 pm,” the apex consumer bench said.
“The orders passed by the state commission as well as the district forum are, therefore, clearly perverse in the eyes of law and these are set aside,” the bench headed by presiding member B C Gupta said. The commission was hearing an appeal filed by the Railways against the state commission’s order awarding compensation to the couple.
The Railways claimed that the coach attendant and the TTE had discharged their duties correctly and did not allow any unauthorised persons in the compartment. The NCDRC took note of the submission of the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of the East Coast Railway that there were 29 RPF personnel deployed at the station that time.