Thane Additional District Consumer Redressal Forum’s president A Z Telgote and member Tryambak A Thool observed that “it is the duty of the railway administration to provide adequate security to passengers and their property during the journey.”
The complainant, Vinod Naik, from Ulhasnagar in the district, informed the forum that on May 14, 2015 he was travelling by Kochuveli-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express along with his wife and four-year-old daughter.
At around 2.10 am, somebody pulled the chain due to which the train stopped for 20 to 25 minutes between Kolad and Mangaon stations.
During that period, some unidentified men stole gold jewellery of his wife, besides his mobile phone and cash, all worth Rs 2.9 lakh, he alleged.
No railway policeman or train ticket examiner (TTE) was available in the compartment, Naik said alleging that his belongings were stolen in the train due to the negligence and deficiency in service by the Konkan Railway, thus causing him financial loss and mental agony.
Thus, the respondent is liable to be compensate him, he told the forum, and sought Rs 2.9 lakh compensation for loss of property, Rs 5 lakh for physical and mental harassment and Rs 25,000 towards the legal expenses.
The Konkan Railway contested the claim saying that the rail administration is only responsible for the carriage of goods entrusted to it with a valid consignment receipt.
In the present case, the complainant’s belongings were stolen from his custody for which the railway cannot be held responsible, it said.
Also, the railway has a limited manpower and staff in the Railway Protection Force and hence, it was not possible for it to deploy RPF personnel in every compartment. Thus, it cannot be held responsible for negligence and deficiency in service.
The forum rejected the submissions of the respondent, observing that it is the duty of the railway administration to provide adequate security to the passengers and their property during journey, and that the paucity of staff cannot be an excuse to avoid the responsibility.
Having considered the evidence on record and submissions made by the parties, there is negligence and deficiency in service on part of the respondent due to which the man suffered financial loss and mental agony, it said.
Under these circumstances, he is entitled to be compensated, the forum held in its order last week.
It ordered the Konkan Railway Corporation to pay Rs 1 lakh for the loss incurred by the complainant, Rs 50,000 towards compensation for his mental agony and Rs 15,000 for the litigation charges.
The compensation is to be paid within 45 days, or else it will attract an interest at 12 per cent annum, the forum added.