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SC Orders Railways To Compensate Passenger For Delay In Train; Will It Become A Precedent?

New Delhi: It has never happened before in the history of Railways in India, where delay in trains is a given but punctuality is an exception.

Well, for the first time, the Supreme Court has asked Railways to pay a compensation of Rs 30,000 to a man who missed a flight from Jammu to Srinagar as the Ajmer-Jammu Express reached its destination four hours late.

According to an exclusive report by Times of India, a bench of Justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose fastened accountability on the Railways for delays. It said that if the Railways cannot explain why a train reached its destination late causing inconvenience to passengers, then it would be liable to compensate them in case they filed a deficiency of service complaint before a consumer forum.

Justices Shah and Bose upheld the orders of the district, state and national consumer forums granting Rs 30,000 compensation with 9 per cent interest to Sanjay Shukla, who with his family missed the 12-noon flight from Jammu to Srinagar because the train scheduled for Jammu reached almost four hours late, leaving the family with no chance of making it on time to the Jammu airport.

The family had to arrange for a taxi to travel from Jammu to Srinagar at a cost of  Rs 15,000 and pay Rs 10,000 for lodging at Srinagar, the report added.

The district consumer forum, Alwar ordered Northern Railway to reimburse Shukla the costs incurred towards taxi fare and lodging and also pay an additional Rs 5,000 for mental agony and litigation expenses.

So, is this set to become a precedent?

Going by the Supreme Court’s statement, it sure seems so. The apex court had made its intention clear last month, on a plea filed by the Union government against an order of the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) granting compensation of Rs 40,000 to the passengers who missed their flight due to delayed arrival of trains. A Bench of JusticeKM Joseph and Justice Ravindra Bhat issued the notice stating that Indian Railways (IR) could have estimated the long-haul delay and communicated the same to the passengers.

The Apex Court affirmed the NCDRC’s order to upheld the compensation awarded by the District Forum and deemed negligence and deficiency in service on part of the railways. The statement reads, “We make it clear that we are not stopping the execution of the order.”