A consumer court has asked Central Railway authorities to pay Rs 20,000 to a senior citizen who suffered hardship as he was neither informed in advance about cancellation of his coach in train, nor provided proper alternative travel arrangements.
The Thane District Consumer Redressal Forum gave the order on a complaint of Pooransingh Mehra of Vadavali in Thane's Ambernath township.
He stated that on February 8, 2011, he had booked a ticket to travel on May 2 from Kalyan to Bareilly in train 14313 Mumbai LTT-Bareilly Express. He was issued a confirmed reserved berth no. 60 in AC sleeper coach B-2.
However, on the day of journey when he reached Kalyan station, there was an announcement that coach B-1 had been cancelled and B-2 was 14th from the engine.
Accordingly, the complainant walked the entire distance and boarded the B-2 coach and occupied berth 60.
At Manmad station, the ticket checker asked him to vacate the seat as it was reserved for someone else and informed him that he was allotted a berth in II class sleeper coach which was attached as substitute for B-2.
Mehra also said in his complaint that on the day of his journey, there was an announcement at Kalyan station that coach B-1 had been cancelled and B-2 was 14th from engine. But the ticket checker would not listen to him at all and forced him to leave his berth.
As a result of the change of berth from AC to non-AC, he had to face hardships in his travel upto Bareilly. Mehra said he did not accept the berth in II class sleeper coach and instead travelled the entire distance sitting on the footboard of coach B-2. He said that he was ill for next five days and had to spend Rs 8,710 on his medical treatment. He also stated that he was diabetic and a heart patient.
He sought a refund of Rs 843 travel fare, and also claimed medical expenses of Rs 8,710 and legal expenses.
He said that he had sent a notice to the railways for the same, but did not get any response and hence, approached the consumer forum.
The railways contested the claim, saying the III AC
coach B-2 had developed some technical problem and had to be cancelled. Instead, a non-AC second class sleeper coach was attached to the train.
However, due to mistake of the staff at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, the communication was that coach B-1 has been cancelled, and this announcement was being made at the railway stations, including Kalyan. But, when they came to know about the mistake, they communicated to all the stations about it and asked them to make a correction.
The railways also stated that the ticket checker informed the complainant that the III AC B-2 coach was cancelled and that he had been accommodated in the IInd class sleeper, but he did not listen and insisted that he would travel on the same berth and in the same coach, which was not not possible as it had been allotted to someone else. Hence the complaint be dismissed, the railways argued.
Station Manager, Kalyan, Chief Commercial Manager (CCM) and Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Central Railway, Mumbai, were made respondents in the case.
Consumer forum president Sneha S Mhatre and members Madhuri Vishwarupe and ND Kadam observed that the respondent had not given the complainant any prior intimation about the change of coach, and a wrong announcement was made at Kalyan.
Besides, not taking into consideration the complainant's age and the fact that he had been given a confirmed reserved ticket in AC coach for which no alternative and proper arrangement was made for him, it clearly indicates that he had been put to inconvenience, the forum noted.
Therefore the forum recently ordered the respondents to refund 50 per cent of the ticket fare (Rs 422) and also pay of Rs 10,000 each as compensation and legal expenses to the complainant.