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Railways Must Pay if Passenger Robbed in Unattended Coach: Consumer Forum

Representative Image (Photo: Reuters)

Representative Image (Photo: Reuters)

Holding the Commercial and Security divisions liable, the National Consumer Commission has ruled that the Railways cannot wiggle out of its obligation to provide for a safe and comfortable journey to its passengers.

New Delhi: Railways will have to make good the losses if a passenger is robbed in an unattended coach with its doors left open.

Holding the Commercial and Security divisions liable, the National Consumer Commission has ruled that the Railways cannot wiggle out of its obligation to provide for a safe and comfortable journey to its passengers.

The Commission has held that any untoward incident of theft or robbery inside a moving train when its coaches are unattended and the doors left open — will make the concerned railway zone responsible to pay for the damages on account of negligence and deficiency in services.

The Commission bench, headed by Rekha Gupta, dismissed an argument by the Railways that passengers will alone be held responsible for the safety of their luggage and that the railway authorities cannot be held liable for any loss or damage.

According to the apex consumer forum, it is the duty of the attendant and the conductor in the coach that no unwanted/unauthorized persons enter a reserved coach and thus the passengers and their goods are protected.

The ruling came when the Commission dismissed an appeal moved by the North-Western Railway against an order to cough up Rs 2.7 lakh, along with interest, to a woman passenger. The passenger was attacked by a thief, who snatched her purse while she was travelling from Delhi to Sri Ganganagar in February 2011.

In her complaint, Jasmin Mann claimed that she did not receive any help from the coach attendant or other staff, despite raising an alarm while the gate of the air-conditioned coach was open.

The district forum accepted her complaint, and directed the NW Railway to pay for her stolen cash and jewellery, along with a compensation amount of Rs 40,000.

“From the material available on the file it is clear that the employee, coach conductor and attendant of the non-applicant Railway Department did not properly discharge their duty or responsibility. For this, an incident of theft had taken place. In such circumstances, committing of deficiency in service of the non-applicants is fully proved,” it said.

Railway’s appeal was also dismissed by the Rajasthan state consumer commission. It said: “The complainant was going to Ganganagar from Delhi, on the way her purse was snatched near Sangrur, which contained jewellery and cash. It was an AC Coach. It was their duty to protect the passenger and their goods, they failed to do that and some persons snatched the purse and succeeded in running away due to slow speed of the train.”

Disputing the legal position on its liability, Railways challenged this order at the National Consumer Commission. Its lawyer cited Clause 146 of Coaching Tariff to argue that the Railways is not accountable for any articles, unless the same are booked and a receipt for them is given by their clerk or agent.

But the Commission pointed out that the railway administration is not responsible for the loss of luggage only if it cannot be proved that the loss occurred due to negligence or misconduct on part of the Railways or its agents.

“In the instant case, the coach attendant was negligent in leaving the door open due to which an unauthorised person entered the reserved AC II-tier coach and committed the theft. The passenger was dragged to the door. To protect her purse, she even raised an alarm, but neither the attendant nor the TTE or RPF came to her rescue. There is no justification for the door of a moving train to be left open when it was running between two stations,” held the Commission, upholding the order to compensate Mann.


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