The Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) on Friday asked the Northern Railway to compensate a passenger for his stolen luggage and said the national carrier was obligated to ensure that a traveller reaches his destination safely with his baggage. The commission rejected the railway’s contention, invoking Section 100 of the Indian Railways Act, that the railway administration shall not be responsible for loss, etc. of any luggage unless the railway servant has booked the luggage and given receipt thereof.

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The commission, headed by its president Veena Birbal, asked the railways to pay Rs 25,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 as litigation cost to west Delhi-resident Sachin Mittal who lost his luggage while travelling to Delhi from Lucknow in 2000. While allowing the appeal filed by Mittal against a district forum order which dismissed his complaint, the commission also questioned the purpose of Railway Protection Force (RPF) members deployed in each coach if they don’t take care of a passenger’s life and luggage.

“We also disagree with the observation of the district forum that GRP/RPF persons are not supposed to guard the luggage of each and every passenger while unauthorised persons remain present near the berth of the complainant. We failed to understand why GRP/RPF is posted in the coach if they don’t take care of the passenger’s life or luggage,” the commission said.

“Once the railways issues a ticket to a consumer for travelling by train and permits the consumer to carry luggage, it has to ensure the safety of the passengers and the safety of his belongings and any shortcoming or inadequacy or imperfection amounts to deficiency in service. Therefore it renders the railways liable to pay compensation as loss or injury including the mental injury suffered by him,” it said.

According to the complaint filed by Mittal, on August 8, 2000, while travelling from Lucknow to Delhi by Lucknow Mail, his two suitcases containing his clothes, books, certificates, passport and other items worth Rs 25,000 got stolen. He alleged that there were unauthorised persons travelling in the reserved compartment and that the TTE did not bother to dislodge them from the coach. The district forum had dismissed Mittal’s compliant holding that he had failed to prove any deficiency in service.

Courtesy: Indian Express


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