The Ferozepur division of the Northern Railway (NR) has been penalised by the state consumer panel for forcing passengers to travel for nearly 30 hours with a non-functional air conditioner in a train.
The Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held the railways guilty of deficiency in service and told it to pay Rs 15,000 compensation each to two Jalandhar passengers.
Sanjeev Sharma, 43, resident of Model Town in Jalandhar and Ish Sharma, 39, also resident of Jalandhar, had moved the district consumer forum against the railways.
The two were travelling with their families aboard Jhelum Express, in B-4 Coach (AC III Tier). The passengers said after some time, they felt that the air conditioning system was not working properly and complained to the staff, who told them that they were setting the temperature thermostat for proper cooling.
The staff failed to put the AC system in order and at Jhansi (MP) it completely broke down. The compartment was air-tight and as a result complained of uneasiness, suffocation and vomiting. Making the matters worse, there was no water in the washroom.
The passengers were forced to cover the 30-hour journey in gruelling conditions. Also, there was no medical help in the train and the complainants were not able to provide medical aid to their children, who were vomiting.
Upholding the order of the district consumer forum, the state panel turned down appeals filed by NR.
Railways denied any deficiency
The Northern Railway denied all allegations saying the air conditioner was working and the cooling was proper and as per the requirement of all passengers.
Consumer panel’s take
“Only the person, who was controlling/managing the air conditioning system in the train, was the best witness to depose about the functioning, but the affidavit of such an official was not placed on record by the railways. There is no evidence in rebut the allegations. The district forum did not commit any illegality or infirmity, while recording finding regarding the deficiency in service,” ruled the commission.