The apex consumer commission has upheld an order directing railways to pay Rs 15,000 to a man, whose 30-hour long train journey became a nightmare due to non-functional air-conditioners. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) dismissed the appeal of the Indian Railway and its Jalandhar officials challenging the Punjab State Commission order, saying the inordinate delay of 177 days on their part in filing the plea showed they were not serious in proceeding with the matter expeditiously. “Evidently, even after receiving a certified copy of the impugned order on April 13, 2016, the petitioners (railways) did not show any seriousness in processing the matter expeditiously to ensure that the revision petition was filed. “Such casual and lackadaisical attitude on the part of the government functionaries has been deprecated by the Supreme Court…” NCDRC Presiding Member(PO) Rekha Gupta said. The state commission had on March 1, 2016 imposed Rs 15,000 fine on railways for causing harassment to passenger Ish Sharma and his family who boarded the Jhelum Express from Maharashtra’s Kopargaon to go to Jalandhar Cantontment when the ACs stopped functioning during the journey. The railways moved the NCDRC against the order in 2017. The commission said it was not inclined to condone the delay in filing the appeal as it would cause further harassment to the complainant.
“I am of the opinion that petitioners (railways) have failed to make out any cause, much less a sufficient cause, for condonation of inordinate delay of 177 days in filing the revision petition. “I am not inclined to condone the delay, more so when condonation of such delay would cause further harassment to the complainant, who, along with his other family members, including two minor children, despite having AC III Tier ticket, was forced to undertake a long train journey of 30 hours in the month of June, 2012, without air-conditioning facility in a sealed compartment,” the PO said.
According to the complaint, Sharma, his wife and two minor children were in AC III-Tier compartment when during the journey they felt suffocated and complained to the TT. They were told the ACs were not functioning but they were fixing it. The complainant travelled 30 hours but the ACs could not be fixed and neither there was water in the washrooms, it was alleged. During the proceedings, the Railways had denied the allegations and said there was no such problem.