4/28/2009

Main Search

General Manager, South Eastern Rail…
Forums Advanced Search Disclaimer

General Manager, South Eastern Railway And ... vs Anand Prasad Sinha And Ors. on 28 July, 1989
Cites 2 docs The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 Section 2 in The Consumer Protection Act, 1986

Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission General Manager, South Eastern Railway And Ors. vs Anand Prasad Sinha And Ors. on 28/7/1989 JUDGMENT V. Balakrishna Eradi, J. (1) This is an appeal filed against the order of the State Commission, Bihar dated 13th April 1989 in Complaint No. 3/SC/1989 on its file jointly by the General Manager, South Eastern Railway Calcutta and the Divisional Railway Manager, Eastern .Railway, Adra. District Purulia. West Bengal. By the said order the State Commission has directed the South Eastern Railway Administration to pay a sum of Rs. 10,000.00 by way of compensation to each of the two respondents for the inconvenience and mental and physical suffering caused to them. (2) The first respondent is Shri Anand Prasad Sinha, retired Judge of the Patna High Court and the second respondent Smt. Madhuri Sinha is his wife. Both of them boarded 24 Dn Hatia Patna Express on 17-4-1988 at Ranchi Station and travelled in a First Class Coupe of Coach No. 191. It would appear that the fans were not working in the said compartment and though a complaint was made to a Conductor, no action was taken to set right the fans at any time during the course of their journey despile the first respondent having also complained to the Railway Authorities at Bokaro and Gomoh Railway Stations, it was further alleged in the petition of complaint filed by Shri Anand Prasad Sinha that the iron shutters in the windows were not in working condition and could not. be secured at night time and even the shutters with glass panes could not be used since the glass wag missing. The rexin of the upper berth was badly tom and there were two exposed rusty nails which caused some injuries on the person of Respondent No. 2. It was the case of the complainant; that due to bad condition of the Coupe compartment he and his wife had to suffer great mental strain and restlessness throughout the journey in addition to the physical injuries sustained by ihe complainant's wife for which she had to take medical treatment after reaching the destination, Along with the petition of complaint an application was filed by the complainant praying that an officer may be urgently deputed by the State Commission for conducting a local inspection of the Coupe compartment in question in order to ascertain the true stale of facts On the said application,
http://indiankanoon.org/doc/418959/ 1/4

4/28/2009

General Manager, South Eastern Rail…

the Stale Commission passed an order directing the Secretary of the Commission to inspect the aforesaid coupe and to make a report about its present physical condition in the context of the allegations made in the petition of complaint. The Superintendent of Patna Railway Station was directed to extend all facilities for the said inspection. The Secretary accordingly inspected the said coupe compartment on May 3, 1988 in the presence of Shri Bharat Shankar Verma, Head Train Examiner and he found that the coupe compartment in question was in a very bad condition. There were no glass panel in the glass shutters of the windows and the steel shutters could not be operated because of defective levers. The condition of the upper berth was found to be pitiable ince the rexin wan completely damaged and two nails were exposed which were likely to cause injuries. Copies of the inspection report were furnished by the State Commission to the parties on both sides. No written objection was filed on behalf of the Railway Authorities challenging the correctness and truth of the facts mentioned by the Commissiner in his report. No attempt was also made before the State Commission by the opposite parties (appellants herein) to adduce any evidence in rebuttal of the contents of the Commissioner's report. Thus the report of the Commissioner which fully corroborated the averments contained in the petition of complaint stood uncontradicted. (3) A preliminary objection was raised by the opposite parties before the State Commission contending that the complaint was not maintainable dander the Consumer Protection Act since the passengers travelling by train could not be regarded as 'consumers' and the Railway Administration was not providing 'service' for consideration so as to fall within the purview of the Act. The State Commission rejected this. contention as totally, untenable and, held that the complaint was maintainable under the Act. On a consideration of the pleadings and the other materials available before it including the report of the Commissioner deputed for the inspection of the coach, the Stale Commission arrived at the finding that the allegations of fact contained in the petition of complaint were proved to be fully true. On the basis of the said finding the Commission further held that the Railway Administration was liable to pay compensation to the complainant and his wife for the mental and physical suffering caused to them After recording these conclusion, the Commission without any further discussion proceeded to issue a direction that the South Eastern Railway Administration should pay a compensation of Rs. 10,000.00 each to the complaint and his wife. After issuing said direction the Commission went on the observe thus :"INview of the status of the complainant and the condition in which they were forced to travel, the aforesaid amount of compensation is not sufficient but on the assurance given by Railway Administration, that steps are being taken to improve the condition, we hope the present amount of compensation will meet the ends of, justice."
http://indiankanoon.org/doc/418959/ 2/4

4/28/2009

General Manager, South Eastern Rail…

The legality and correctness of the decision of the State Commission have been challenged before us by the appellants in this appeal. (4) In the petition of appeal besides challenging the decision of the State Commission on the merits, the appellants have reiterated the objection taken by them before the State Commission regarding the maintainability of the complaint, their contention being that the passengers travelling by trains are not 'consumers' and the Railway Administration cannot be regarded as rendering any 'service' so as to fall within the ourview of the Consumer Protection Act. We are constrained to observe that we are indeed surprised that such a plea should have been forward by the South Eastern Railway Administration. The expression 'service' contained in Section 2(l)(o)ofthe Act specifically includes within its scope the provision of facilities in connection with transport. The railway administration is providing transport facilities to the public for consideration paid by them by way of the fare, levied for the ticket. It is in fact one of the largest public undertakings in the country intended to render service to the public by providing transportation by rail through its large network extending from Kanya Kumari in the South to Jamrnu Tawi in the North. We have no hesitation to hold that passengers travelling by trains on payment of the stipulated fare charged for the ticket are 'consumers' and the facility of transportation by. rail provided by the railway administration is a 'service' rendered for consideration as defined under the Act. The State Commission was therefore, perfectly correct in overruling the preliminary objection raised by the opposite parties before it and in proceeding to decide the case on the merits. The findings of fact recorded by the State Commission are fully supported by the materials available on record and no valid grounds whatever have been made out by the appel lants justifying any interference with those findings. (5) However, we find there is considerable force in the contention advanced on the side of the appellants that the State Commission has acted rather arbitrarily in fixing the amount of compensation payable to the respondents. There is no indication whatever in the order of the State Commission as to the basis adopted by it for quantifying the compensation to be awarded to the complainant and his wife. No reference is to be found in the Commission's order to any of the well settled principles governing. the fixation of compensation in cases like the present one and one is left in complete dark" ness as to what factors weighed with the State Commission in fixing the compensation at the figure of Rs.10,000.00 each to the complainant as well as to his wife. It is an established principle of law that the compensation awarded must have a rational relation to the nature and extent of the jury, inconvenience or physical and mental suffering caused to the complainant by the action or omission of the opposite party. No attempt was made by the State Commission to approach the question of quantification of compensation from this correct perspective. The status of the complainant was of little relevance in this context since
http://indiankanoon.org/doc/418959/ 3/4

4/28/2009

General Manager, South Eastern Rail…

every passenger who has paid for first class travel and who has been subjected to inconvenience and suffering of a like nature on account of defects in the compartment is entitled to similar treatment in the nature of award of compensation irrespective of any question of status. (6) Having given the matter our anxious consideration in the light of all the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of opinion that the compensation awarded by the State Commission is manifestly excessive, in our considered view it would be reasonable and fair to fix the compensation payable to each of the respondents before us at Rs. 1500.00 (Rupees one thousand five hundred) only.. We accordingly modify the order of the State Commission by reducing the compensation payable to the complainant and his wife to Rs. 1500.00 each. If, in enforcement of the order of the State Commission, the respondents have recovered from the appellants the full amount of compensation awarded to them.under the impugned order, they will refund to the appellants within one month from today the excess of Rs. 8,500.00 each drawn by them. (7) The appeal is allowed to be limited extent indicated above. The parties will bear their respective costs.

http://indiankanoon.org/doc/418959/

4/4