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Railways Must Pay Damages for Letting a Beggar Enter, Theft: National Consumer Commission

The apex consumer panel has ordered the Northern Railways to cough up Rs 1.6 lakh to a couple, whose valuables were stolen by a beggar during their travel in September 2012.

Utkarsh Anand | News18.com

Updated:May 23, 2018, 11:27 AM IST
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Railways Must Pay Damages for Letting a Beggar Enter, Theft: National Consumer Commission
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New Delhi: Letting a beggar enter a reserved compartment amounts to gross negligence and railways must pay up for any loss to a passenger due to mishaps, the National Consumer Commission has held.

The apex consumer panel has ordered the Northern Railways to cough up Rs 1.6 lakh to a couple, whose valuables were stolen by a beggar during their travel in September 2012.

"Since the complainants were travelling in a reserved compartment, it was the duty of the railway officials to ensure that no unauthorised person entered the said compartment at Mughalsarai railway station. By not preventing the entry of a beggar woman in a reserved compartment, the railway officials committed an act of gross negligence," said the panel, presided over by VK Jain.

The Commission added that since the negligence resulted into a theft, the railway is also liable to reimburse the complainants for the loss suffered by them.

It dismissed the appeal filed by the Northern Railway and directed it to pay up.

Significantly, the Commission, in its order, also held that a consumer forum shall have the authority to grant compensation to a passenger who loses luggage or other valuables due to the negligence of railway staff.

In its order, the Commission sought to settle the debate as to whether the Railway Claims Tribunal will have the existence jurisdiction to decide such disputes.

The Commission maintained that the Claims Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to grant compensation to a passenger who has lost the luggage on account of the negligence of the railways.

"The jurisdiction of the Tribunal is restricted to the goods or animals entrusted to the railway administration for carriage," noted the apex consumer panel.

Thus, the Commission asserted, jurisdiction of courts and other authorities would not be barred under the Railway Claims Tribunal Act in respect of a claim by a passenger who loses his valuables while travelling.

The panel also pointed out that railways would be liable to make good the losses if a passenger succeeds in showing that his loss was due to the negligence or misconduct of the former's staff.

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