A Consumer Court Has Ordered Northern Railways To Pay Rs 1.45 Lakhs As Compensation To A Passenger For Stolen Luggage During A Train Journey

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District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Delhi mandated Northern Railways to compensate Rs 1.45 lakhs to reimburse a passenger for the theft of luggage valued  Rs 1.2 lakhs during a train voyage from Delhi to Patna in 2014.

The bench expressed the view that the passenger had directly experienced the consequences of the Railway’s inadequate service, “We are of the considered view that the complainant has suffered directly due to deficient service of the OP in terms of the deficiency defined in the Act which includes any fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of performance which is required to be maintained in relation to any service and includes any act of negligence or omission or commission by such person which causes loss or injury to the consumer,” 

Upon review of the complainant’s statement, it was alleged that the loss of luggage occurred due to the negligence of the Railways authorities during a journey aboard the Mahananda Express from Delhi to Patna.

The passenger asserted that the stolen luggage contained both clothing and jewelry. The passenger contended that the Northern Railways bore the responsibility to compensate for the value of the stolen items and further sought Rs 50,000 in additional compensation for the losses incurred.

Conversely, the Station Master at the New Delhi Railway Station argued that the Railways were not accountable for unregistered or undeclared items as stipulated in Section 100 of the Indian Railways Act. Additionally, it was asserted that the Station Master could not be held liable or made a party to the case concerning the loss of luggage, as the incident did not fall within the territorial jurisdiction of the consumer forum.

The Commission acknowledged a precedent set in Indian Railways and Ors. v Uma Agarwal, where the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had already addressed similar contentions raised by the Station Master. The NCDRC ruling emphasized the liability of the Railways for negligence in ensuring passenger and luggage safety.

Regarding jurisdiction, it was determined that complaints could be entertained at the boarding point due to the nationwide presence of the Railways.

Moreover, the Station Master highlighted that the FIR was lodged 10 months post-theft, with the consumer complaint filed two years after the FIR. An Untrace Report was also submitted in the FIR, indicating the inability of the police to trace the culprits.

The Commission dismissed arguments concerning delays in complaint filing, noting that the passenger had initially approached the Traveling Ticket Examiner (TTE) for FIR registration, without receiving updates on the status. Subsequent follow-ups with the Railway Police Force at Baroda House in New Delhi only acknowledged the theft without progressing with the FIR.

Subsequently, the complainant registered an FIR with the Railway Police, Delhi Main, leading to the involvement of the Commission due to an Untrace Report being filed. The Commission concluded that the complainant had suffered directly due to the Railways’ deficient service.

Consequently, the Northern Railways was directed to compensate the complainant Rs 1,20,000 for the lost luggage, with an additional 9% interest from 2017 until payment. Furthermore, a sum of Rs 25,000 was ordered as compensation for the mental distress and anguish inflicted upon the passenger, resulting in a total payable amount of approximately Rs 1.45 lakhs.

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