NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
(From the order dated 9.1.2001 in appeal No.98/97
of the State Commission, Tamil Nadu)
Mrs. M. Kanthimathi & Anr. Petitioners
The Government of India, Ministry of Railways,
Represented by the General Manager,
Southern Railway, Chennai. Respondent
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA,
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE J.K. MEHRA, MEMBER.
MR. B.K. TAIMNI, MEMBER.
Railway - reserved compartment - unauthorised persons entering the compartment, snatching gold chain of the passenger holding reserved ticket - inaction by the Railway Officers - deficiency in service - Section 10 of Railways Act, 1989 - responsibility of Railways as carriers.
O R D E R
DATED THE 8th November, 2002.
JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA, J.(PRESIDENT)
Nobody appears for the respondent though the matter has been called on second time. Counsel for the respondent had also not complied with our last order.
It is the complainants who are petitioners before us. Their complaint was that while travelling in the train some miscreants unauthorisedly entered the compartment in which complainants being husband and wife were travelling. Gold chain was snatched from the first complainant, wife of the second complainant and no assistance whatsoever was provided by the railway authorities. The compartment in which the couple was travelling, was a reserved compartment. Complainaning deficiency in service complaint was filed before the District Forum. It was allowed. District Forum after appreciation of the evidence, directed the respondent to pay a sum of Rs.15,840/- towards value of the jewellery and Rs.25/- towards sleeping berth charges, and Rs.10,000/- as compensation for mental agony and hardship suffered by the complainants. Cost of Rs.500/- was also awarded
Aggrieved from that order of the District Forum opposite party-Railways went in appeal to the State Commission. Before the State Commission it was submitted that Railways could not be responsible in view of Section 100 of the Railways Act, 1989 which Section we quote:
100. Responsibility as carrier of luggage. A railway administration shall not be responsible for the loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of any luggage unless a railway servant has booked the luggage and given a receipt therefor and in the case of luggage which is carried by the passenger in his charge, unless it is also proved that the loss, destruction, damage or deterioration was due to the negligence or misconduct on its part or on the part of any of its servants.
State Commission analysed this Section and was of the view that Section 100 was in two parts . First part is relatable to loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of any luggage booked at the railways of which receipt had been issued, and second part is relatable to loss etc of luggage carried on by the passenger in his charge. State Commission was of the view that it is second part of the Railways Act which applies to the present case. State Commission did not find any negligence on the part of the railways. As regards unauthorised person entering the compartment State Commission observed that the persons in the compartment would be capable of verifying as to the person who just entered into the compartment was a genuine passenger or not. We think it is too much to expect from the passengers in the compartment to perform such a duty. Such a course would be in effect so unreal if not illusory. Wearing of jewellery on the body of the person would be included in the term luggage being in his charge during travel in the railway. There is nothing on record to controvert what the complainants alleged. Firstly entry of unauthorised person was not blocked and secondly after the crime no assistance was offered to the complainants by the railway authorities.
In our view State Commission has not taken pragmatic view of the matter. We, therefore, set aside the order of the State Commission and would restore that of the District Forum. Petitioner would be entitled to cost which we assess at Rs.2000.
(JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA)