The Hon’ble National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi has observed in and said – “In our view, after purchasing a railway ticket, a passenger would be a consumer as he avails the services of the Railways, including the use of platform, foot path, over bridges for ingress to and egress from train and, if there is any deficiency in services which causes injury, then such a person is entitled to file a complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.”
The major that came out from the previously mentioned Revision Petition in front of the Hon’ble NCDRC was – If a passenger after de-boarding the train, while passing over the railway foot-over-bridge (FOB) is injured because of the collapse of the bridge, is he entitled to file a complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986?
Facts of the Case :-
In one of the case, a couple met with an accident in the year 1992 when they were returning home from Ghatkopar to Jogeshwari via Dadar by train. After getting down from the train at Jogeshwari Station, at about 8.30 PM, when they were passing over the Railway foot over bridge to reach Jogeshwari (East), suddenly one slab of the bridge collapsed. As a result, the couple, along with several other passengers, fell on the railway track resulting in severe injuries. At the point of time, it was raining heavily which made the matter worse and some passengers even died due to this collapse.
The couple were admitted in the Cooper Hospital in an unconscious condition and unfortunately the lady also got robbed before getting admitted into the hospital. She was under treatment for a couple of months and thereafter, was shifted to Nanavati Hospital.
She was an MTNL employee and was not able to make it to work due to hospitalization and was required to take medical leave for the period. Due to this incidence, unfortunately she became handicapped and disabled and it was also certified by the Medical Officer, Cooper Hospital, Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay that she suffered with multiple injuries.
Due to this incidence the injured lady approached the District Forum, Mumbai Suburban District, by filing a complaint and the complaint got dismissed on the basis of opinion of the majority. However, one Member passed a specific order that the complainant was entitled to receive a compensation of Rs.2,50,000/- with interest at the rate of 9% p.a. from the date of the accident till realization, along with Rs.3000/- as additional cost. There was also an appeal made in the State Commission, Maharashtra which also got dismissed solely on the ground of jurisdiction bar by referring to Section 124A of the Railways Act, 1989 and Sections 13(1)(a) and 15 of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987.
After elaborate discussion, the Hon’ble NCDRC passed a notice to review the case. Undisputedly, that FOB is a part of the railway premise and is needs to be maintained well to avoid inconvenience to the passengers. It was also found later, the Railway property was not well maintained and negligence was the only cause for the collapse of the foot over bridge.
As per the Hon’ble Supreme court the NCDRC in this case, it is the responsibility of Railway to maintain platforms, footpaths, over bridges for ingress and egress of the passengers and all other passenger facilities and amenities and passengers are contributing towards it via purchasing journey tickets or platform tickets.
Further, NCDRC said – In our view, a railway passenger, who purchases a Railway ticket for traveling, would undoubtedly be a consumer as he pays for availing the services. For boarding and deboarding the train, the passengers are required to pass through the railway premises, i.e., the railway platform, over bridge, etc. In such circumstances, the facilities needs to be well maintained for giving a comfortable experience to the passengers.
The State Commission must not dismiss these cases and review its decisions. In this case, a compensation of Rs.2,50,000/- with interest of 9% p.a. from the date of the accident, i.e., 28.9.1992 till the date of realization, along with costs quantified at Rs.3,000/- was paid to the injured couple.