The Northern Railway was asked by a city consumer court to pay a compensation of Rs 30,000 to an elderly woman forced to travel standing for six hours in a train from Agra Cantonment to Jaipur as her reserved seat was occupied by an unauthorised passenger.
Raj Rani Aggarwal, a 72-year-old woman suffering from acute knee pain and back pain and her aged and sick husband GL Aggarwal suffered because their seats were encroached. But, only she was the complainant before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum.
Judges VK Gupta and Vinay Singh said: "Railways should make sufficient arrangements as the liability of railways commences the moment the consumer (passenger) enters the platform of the railway station. There is no way they can absolve or run away from their responsibility for providing perfect and faultless service."
"If seats are not provided to the passengers having confirmed tickets, it is sheer deficiency on the part of the railways and they will have to pay heavily," the court ruled.
The couple booked two seats on December 26, 2007 on waiting list, which was confirmed later. On the date of journey three days later, they found unauthorised passengers in their seat who refused to vacate. There was no coach attendant or ticket checker till the train reached Alwar. Even there, the travelling ticket examiner (TTE) failed to get the seats vacated.
General manager of railways termed the allegations "baseless" and denied in the court that unauthorised passengers occupied the seats. He said many seats were vacant at Agra Cantonment and the TTE even allotted five vacant births to different passengers. There was no way unauthorised passengers could occupy the coach.
But the judges pointed out that railway did not filed any affidavit of the TTE about it. "There is ample evidence that there was no TTE on duty and the complainant and her husband were deprived of the confirmed berth on the reserved coach, which is a deficiency of service," said the court.