The Indian Railways cannot be blamed for a chain-snatching incident if the ‘miscreant’ is outside the train compartment, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) said while quashing lower-fora orders holding it responsible for the loss to a passenger.
The NCDRC’s observation came on a revision petition by the railways in a case lodged by a man who was travelling in a train from Chennai to Delhi. His gold chain was snatched by a person outside the coach while the complainant was sitting inside.
“On careful consideration of record, it is clear that the theft of chain was undisputedly committed by a person who was outside the compartment and not inside the same.
“As the miscreant had snatched the chain through the window, the railways cannot be held responsible for not ensuring the safety of the passengers inside the coach,” the bench headed by Justice Ajit Bharihoke said.
The NCDRC was considering the review petition filed by the railways against the lower-fora order allowing the complaint and asking it to pay a compensation of Rs 36,000 to Rajasthan resident Nand Kishore. The railways had already paid the amount.
The commission has, however, asked the railways not to initiate proceedings for restitution of the compensation paid as the amount involved was meagre.
“I accordingly allow the revision petition, set aside the impugned order and dismiss the complaint.
“As the said amount has already been paid to the complainant, taking note of the fact that amount involved is meagre, it is expected that petitioner railway shall not initiate proceedings for restitution of that amount. Revision petition is disposed of accordingly,” the bench said.
According to the complaint, in June 2012, Kishore was travelling from Chennai to Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi by Duronto Express and had occupied the window seat of the train. He alleged that the train slowed down at the outer signal of Itarsi railway station in Madhya Pradesh and suddenly some unknown person snatched the gold chain, weighing one tola, from his neck through the window. Kishore further claimed that he along with some other passengers tried to contact the coach conductor, who was found sleeping in the AC coach. The coach conductor and the TTE were asked to call the police at the spot but none was available in the train.
The district fora in Rajasthan had asked the railways to pay the compensation to Kishore and the same was upheld by the state commission.
“Both the fora below have failed to appreciate this aspect and wrongly held the petitioners guilty of deficiency in service in not preventing the theft. The impugned orders, therefore, cannot be sustained,” the NCDRC said.