South Central Railways directed to pay Rs. 17L to passenger who lost cash, jewelry on train

The Hyderabad Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has asked South Central Railways (SCR), Secunderabad, to pay Rs. 17 lakh to a passenger who lost her belongings in a train.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  8 Aug 2021 8:55 AM GMT
South Central Railways directed to pay Rs. 17L to passenger who lost cash, jewelry on train

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has asked South Central Railways (SCR), Secunderabad, to pay Rs. 17 lakh to a passenger who lost her belongings in a train.

On 11 August 2017, the complainant, Sheetal Kulkarni, a resident of DD Colony, along with her family was travelling from Hyderabad to Bangalore by Kachiguda–Yeshwanthpur (KCG-YPR) Express in a reserved compartment. They were going to Bangalore to attend an engagement function. They boarded the train at Kachiguda and alighted at Yeshwantpur station the next day.

After reaching home, she opened her suitcase and found that gold and silver jewelry belonging to the complainant, her mother-in-law, and her sister-in-law; silk clothes; and Rs. 3 lakh cash was missing. She observed that the suitcase bottom had been cut open.

She immediately went to the Rural Railway Police Station in Yeshwanthpur and lodged a complaint following which a case was registered. The complainant sent two reminders to the Railway police inquiring about the status of her complaint and if the stolen jewelry had been traced. However, there was no response from the Railway police, Ms. Kulkarni alleged.

She said the jewelry and cash were stolen from a running train from a reserved compartment. Hence, the theft had occurred due to the negligence of the South Central Railways in not taking necessary steps to protect the belongings of the passengers, especially in the reserved compartment when they had paid extra service charges for the reservation, Ms. Kulkarni claimed. It is the bounded duty of the opposite party to provide security and safety to the passengers and their belongings, having collected extra charges for the reservation.

The complainant alleged that they had waited for a considerable period of time with the hope that the Railway police would find the culprits and handover her stolen property. Since that did not happen she was left with no other option but to file a complaint for redressal in the consumer commission.

Meanwhile, South Central Railways said the complaint was not based on true and correct facts. "The complainant approached the Commission with unclean hands which is purely an abuse of process. The complaint filed by the complainant is for loss of jewelry kept in a suitcase which was in her personal custody. The jurisdiction of the complaint does not come under this Commission as the entire cause of action arose and completed far from the jurisdiction of this Commission. The purported theft was reported to have taken place after completion of journey i.e. at Yeshwantpur and FIR was lodged at Rural Railway Police Station, Yeshwantpur, Bengaluru," said SCR.

It added that the train normally reaches at 10.45 a.m and the complaint was lodged at 4.45 p.m, after six hours, and the same fact was not brought to the notice of the SCR at any point of time. The GRP are the local police who came on deputation to the Railways for the purpose of investigating the case. It does not mean that the opposite party has control over them or they are part and parcel of the Railways. Also, the complaint is not maintainable on the basis that as per section 13 read with 15 of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987, the Railway Claims Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to entertain claims for compensation in case of loss of goods, SCR said.

It also said that the complainant never declared the list of articles that she was carrying and never handed over the goods to the railway at any point of time. "The personal luggage is the personal responsibility and we will assist the passenger if any unusual occurrence happens by keeping RPF and GRP as the security to the train. In the present case, the complainant never made any hue and cry till she completed the journey and made a complaint after a lapse of six hours making allegations," it added.

After observing all the documents and evidence, the Commission observed that the complainant had mentioned in her complaint to the police that they had noticed three persons entering the coach and standing near the door. This happened between Rajankunte and Yelahanka station when the train had stopped. Ms. Kulkarni said she had kept around 10 bags near the door so that she could get down at Yelahanka station.

The Commissions said that though the complainant had raised the suspicion, SCR did not conduct an inquiry with TTE and other staff of the coach. It also said that the TTE should ensure that the doors of the coach are kept locked when the train is on the move and open them for passengers as and when required.

Also, it said that in this particulars case the findings are that there has been negligence on the part of Railways and on the part of the servants from preventing unauthorized persons into the coach and permitting them to stand near the door of the coach. This diverted the complainant and her family members' attention from their luggage and allowed the suspects to steal.

The Commission asked SCR to pay Rs. 14, 01,078 for the stolen jewelry and refund Rs. 3 lakh to the complainant with an interest of 9 per cent per annum from August 2017.

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