Department of Railways, through:
Ferozepur Division, Ferozepur Petitioner
1. Subhash Chand Jasuja
S/o of Hari Kishan Dass,
2. Mrs. Subhash Jasuja,
w/o Shri Subhash Chand Jasuja
3. Vinod Kumar Beri,
S/o Shri Kewal Krishan Beri,R/o Fazilaka
4. Mrs. Padma Beri
W/o Shri Vinod Kumar Beri,R/o Fazilka Respondents
Dated the 9th October, 2006:
O R D E R
M.B.Shah, J. President:
By order dated 26.5.1998 the District Forum, Ferozepur, directed the Petitioner to compensate the Complainants by refunding Rs.1,240/- (Rs.600 plus Rs.640) being the difference of railway fare, and also pay Rs.10,000/- as compensation to each of the Complainants, i.e. in all Rs.40,000/- and Rs.1,000/- as cost of litigation. That order was confirmed in Appeal No. 1180 of 1988 by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab by order dated 19.5.2000. Hence, this Revision Petition is filed by the Union of India, Department of Railways.
For appreciating the contentions, we would refer to the facts which would reveal the deficiency in service on the part of the Railways. It is contended that the Complainants Nos.1 and 3 are Advocates and the Complainants Nos. 2 and 4 are their wives. They made a programme during December, 1993 to visit Bombay, Goa, etc. On 8.11.1993 the Complainants purchased 1st Class tickets for going from Ferozepur to Vasco on 22.12.1993. The booking officers at the Ferozepur confirmed the first class reservation from Ferozepur to Delhi by the Punjab Mail and informed them that message would be passed on to Delhi Office for onward reservation from Delhi to Vasco by the Goa Express. Thereafter, on 22.11.1993, the Complainant visited the office of the railway booking agency at Ferozepur where he was informed that there was no first class compartment in Train No. 2702 Goa Express. It is pointed out that the railway booking agency at Ferozepur got the information from Delhi on 15.11.1993.
Immediately, on 22.11.1993, the Complainant requested for issuing the tickets for IInd AC from Ferozepur to Vasco. The booking officers charged excess fare and issued confirmed Tickets from Ferozepur to Delhi by the Punjab Mail and assured that, for further journey, message will be transmitted to Delhi Office.
Again, for verification, the Complainant visited the Ferozepur office where, to his shock, he was intimated that the Complainants were placed in waiting list.
On 22.12.1993 the Complainants reached the Ferozepur Railway Station to undertake their journey. But, they were surprised and shocked to know that their names did not figure in the reservation list for IInd AC and figured in the list of passengers in First Class.
Anyhow, the Complainants reached the New Delhi Railway Station on 23.12.1993 for going to Vasco (Goa). At the New Delhi Railway Station as per the reservation chart the Complainant were again shocked to know that their names figured in waiting list at Sl. No. 22 to 25. Not only this, they found that there was a first class compartment attached to the train. On inquiry it was revealed that the first class compartment goes upto Mirja. On inquiry it was also revealed that several persons whose names figured in the reservation chart have booked their seats subsequently to that of the Complainants. Complainants were not accommodated in the said train.
They were required to stay at
Contentions of the parties:
In the written version filed by the Petitioners, it is contended that the Railways had destroyed the record after six months. It is also contended that under the Railways Act such complaint is not maintainable, and, that the Complainants have not approached the Consumer Fora with clean hands. The learned counsel appearing for the Petitioner further contended that the Complainants were aware about their status of reservation as their tickets were not confirmed. Confirmation of the tickets depend upon the availability of seats. Therefore, they could not have any grievance. They were wait listed at serial Nos. 22 to 25. Hence the Petitioner cannot be held to be liable for the damages suffered by the Complainant due to non-confirmation of their seats.
In our view, from the contentions and the facts as found by the District Forum, there is deficiency in service on the part of the Department of Railways. The said deficiencies are as under:
(a). The booking clerk was negligent in not informing the Complainants on 8.11.1993 itself that there was no first class compartment. Otherwise, the Complainants could have booked their seats in the IInd AC on 8.11.1993, because, there was a gap of 45 days from the date of booking of tickets and the date of commencement of the journey, and confirmed tickets would have been issued on 8.11.1993.
(b). As per the written statement of the Railways, the railway booking agency at Ferozepur got the information from the Delhi Office on 15.11.1993 about the non availability of first class compartment but the railway officials were negligent in not communicating the said information to the Complainants till 22.11.1993, i.e. when the Complainants visited the office of the booking agency at Ferozepur. The precious time of the Complainants had been lost. Had the Complainants been informed about the non-availability of reservation by 15.11.1993, they would have booked their tickets on 15.11.1993 and their chances of getting confirmed reservation was maximum.
(c). The booking officials were negligent even on 22.11.1993 that in spite of conversion of first class ticket to IInd AC from Ferozepur to New Delhi by the Punjab Mail, they failed to delete the names of the Complainants from the first class reservation and failed to put their names in the list of IInd AC and for the said deficiency on the part of the Railways the Complainants had to travel in the first class in the biting cold without bedding.
(d). The booking officials were negligent in not informing the Complainants that there was first class compartment upto Miraj. If the said information was given, the Complainants might have chosen to reserve their births upto Miraj and might have traveled from Miraj to Vacso in the class whichever was available.
(e). The Complainants have alleged that the certain persons have been accommodated/given confirmed reservation who booked their seats after 22.11.1993 or whose names figured below the Complainants were accommodated on one pretext or the other. They further stated that the position of reservation is exclusively within the knowledge of the Railway Authorities and onus lies upon them to show who and how many person were given reservation on and after 22.11.1993. The position of reservation on the relevant date has not been brought on record by the Railway authorities.
Considering the aforesaid aspects, in our view, the impugned order of the State Commission, confirming the order passed by the District Forum, does not call for any interference. In the result, the Revision Petition is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.