Hyderabad: In a welcome order, the Hyderabad Consumer Forum ordered the South Central Railway to pay a passenger Rs 13,000 for causing him discomfort by not allowing him to fully occupy the berth reserved by him.
V. Sriranganayakulu, 66, from Ranga Reddy district was travelling on the Secunderabad Guwahati Express and had purchased a sleeper class ticket from Secunderabad to Rajamundry on January 8, 2017. He was allotted berth number 22 in coach number five. He claimed that his berth was occupied by two unauthorised passengers and despite complaints made to the ticket collector, the unauthorised passengers were not removed from his berth. He could only occupy one-third of his seat causing him to suffer severe back pain, muscle pain and headache.
The SCR, represented by its general manager, claimed in its counter complaint that the complainant had slept in the reserved berth and that he was well aware that the train would be overcrowded as it was Pongal.
The SCR further argued that there was no deficiency of service and the efforts of the railway administration needed to be lauded. It also contended that the forum did not have jurisdiction in view of certain sections of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987. Moreover, the complainant was habituated to filing false complaints for compensation, since he was an advocate, the SCR said.
The forum held that the very object of providing sleeper and AC sleeper coaches was for the convenience of passengers which is defeated by overcrowding of passengers that led to this complaint.
On the second point, the forum observed that the existence of remedy provided by Sections 13 and 15 in the Railway Claims Tribunal Act ensured that the Railways did fall under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Courts as the courts were meant to provide additional remedies to consumers.
The forum also noted that there was evidence against the Railways as the TTE, Sri Sujith Reddy, had admitted that there was overcrowding of passengers in view of the Pongal festival, including unauthorised passengers. He also admitted that the complainant had to travel on just one-third of his allotted seat. The forum ruled in favour of the complainant on grounds of deficiency of service as railway officials failed to prevent unauthorised passengers from entering the sleeper coach.