New Delhi: The Supreme Court slammed the Indian Railways for the delayed running of trains and directed it to pay a compensation if they cannot establish or prove that the delay occurred due to reasons beyond its control.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose noted that, if the Railways failed to explain why a train was delayed, it would be liable to compensate the passengers if they filed a deficiency of service complaint before a consumer forum.
“These are the days of competition and accountability. If the public transportation has to survive and compete with private players, they have to improve the system and their working culture. Passengers cannot be at the mercy of the authorities. Somebody has to accept the responsibility,” the Bench observed in an order on Tuesday.
The complainant, Sanjay Shukla, along with his family missed the flight scheduled at 12 noon from Jammu to Srinagar after the train, scheduled to reach Jammu at 8.10 am on June 11, 2016, arrived nearly four hours late at 12 noon. They missed their flight and had to take an expensive taxi to Srinagar at a cost of Rs 15,000 and had to pay Rs 10, 000 for lodging at Srinagar. They also lost their booking of a boat on Dal Lake.
The District Consumer Forum put it down as deficiency in service by the railways. The forum ordered the North Western Railway to pay the disgruntled passenger ₹15,000 for taxi expenses, ₹10,000 towards booking expenses, along with ₹5,000 each towards mental agony and litigation expenses.
Additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati contended that in view of Rule 114 and Rule 115 of the Indian Railway Conference Association Coaching Tariff No. 26 Part-I (Volume-I), there shall not be any liability of the railways to pay compensation for train delays.
The court reinforced the concept that every passenger’s time is precious, they might have booked tickets for further journeys. “Like in the present case from Jammu to Srinagar and thereafter further journey,” the court noted.
However, the Supreme Court upheld the concurrent orders of the district, state and national consumer forums granting Rs 30,000 compensation with 9 percent interest to Shukla, “Therefore, unless and until the evidence is laid explaining the delay and it is established and proved that delay occurred beyond their control and/or even there was some justification for delay, the railways are liable to pay the compensation for delay and late arrival of trains,” the Supreme Court held, dismissing the appeal filed by the railways.