Consumer panel asks SCR to pay Rao for staff negligence

Not informing instantly a passenger of the cancellation of a train prompted the consumer commission to order the South Central Railways (SCR) to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation. The commission also ordered a refund of a ticket which the passenger had booked on another train.

The complainant is P Ramachander Rao, a sexagenarian, who was in for a relief after the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission – II in Hyderabad passed the order. The opposite parties, the term used for respondents in the commission, were the General Manager, SCR, Group General Manager Indian Railway Catering Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and Principal Chief Commercial Manager, SCR.

The complainant submitted in the commission that on February 9 2019 he booked train number 12786 to travel from Bangalore in Karnataka to Kachiguda station. The train was supposed to leave on February 16, 2019 but to his surprise it was cancelled on the same day of its departure. Mr Rao also submitted that his ticket status reflected as ‘waiting list’ and then it was changed to ‘reservation against cancellation’, before he found out via a message on his phone that the train was cancelled on the day it was supposed to depart for Kachiguda.

Mr Rao submitted in the commission that he had to attend a business meeting. The sudden cancellation of the train caused him hardship and a loss of income. With the train being cancelled at the last minute, he was forced to book a tatkal ticket on the Gharib Rath Express train and paid Rs 1,063.40.

The counsel for the IRCTC, which is one of the opposite parties, submitted that it denies all allegations. He also submitted that the IRCTC is the SCR which is responsible for daily operations and administration of trains, and it has nothing to do with such aspects.

Meanwhile, the counsel for General Manager, SCR and Principal Chief Commercial Manager, SCR, submitted that the train had to be cancelled due to its efforts to modernize and improve the signaling system and the non-interlocked working programme for commissioning automatic signaling between Bangalore and Whitefield. The train which the complainant was scheduled to board as well as other trains were cancelled due to this reason. Other trains traveling to the same destination such as Rajdhani Express was not cancelled as the route which it takes is different. The SCR also submitted that a press bulletin was issued on February 15 2019, a day before the complainant was scheduled to board the train, intimating passengers of its cancellation.

The commission heard both sides and perused the evidence submitted before it. “Cancellation of train without any pre-arranged schedule, alternative remedy, and delivering of intimation on the travelling day itself by the opposite parties amounts to deficiency in rendering its services towards the complainant and as such the point is answered accordingly in favour of the complainant,” it in the order.

The commission then directed the opposite parties, excluding the IRCTC, to pay Rs. 10,000 as compensation and refund Rs. 1,063.40 which the complainant had paid to book a ticket on the Gharib Rath Express. It also directed the opposite parties to pay Rs. 5,000 as costs.