Railways has to ensure safety of not just the passengers, but also their belongings, Delhi state consumer commission has said while holding it responsible for service deficiency after a commuter’s luggage got stolen. The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC), while dismissing the Railways’ appeal against a district forum’s order, asked it to pay a compensation of Rs 35,000 for deficiency in service and Rs 10,000 for litigation expenses to Haryana resident Shaveta Chaudhary.
“Railways has to ensure the safety of the passengers and also the safety of his belongings and any shortcoming or inadequacy or imperfection amounts to deficiency in service and therefore it renders Railways liable to pay compensation as loss or injury including the mental injury suffered by him,” the state commission’s Presiding Member Salma Noor said.
The commission rejected the Railways’ claim that it was not responsible as the stolen luggage was not booked or paid for, saying a passenger is not bound to do so.
“A passenger travelling by a train is entitled to carry certain baggage or luggage free of cost. There is no question of entrusting such a baggage/luggage to the Railways and getting receipt thereof,” the commission said.
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The commission also did not accept the contention of the Railways that it was not responsible as the incident was a result of failure of law and order, which is a State subject.
According to the complaint filed by Chaudhary, she booked a 2-Tier AC ticket to travel on October 9, 2010 from New Delhi to Habibganj in Bhopal in the Bhopal Express.
It said as soon as the train departed, she began settling down, a bag kept on the upper berth went missing. The stolen bag had a laptop and several valuable articles worth of Rs 45,000, it added.
The complainant could not find any official to file a complaint as the train had already departed, it said, adding that she then made a call to PCR but they expressed their inability to help her as the train had left the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station.
The TTE arrived later to check the tickets and he also expressed difficulty in assisting her in any manner.
A complaint was filed at the Habibganj Railway Station the next day itself from where the FIR was sent to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station after two months. As there was no action from the authorities, she lodged a complaint at the district consumer forum in Delhi.