Guntur Railway Police, SCR asked to pay Rs 1.10 lakh to Hyderabad passenger who lost her Mangalasutra

The complainant filed a complaint under Sections 356, 379 of the Indian Penal Code under Crime No.33/2019

Guntur Railway Police, SCR asked to pay Rs 1.10 lakh to Hyderabad passenger who lost her Mangalasutra

HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed Guntur Railway Police and South Central Railways to pay a Rs 1.10 lakh compensation to a Hyderabad passenger who lost her Mangalsutra while travelling in a special express train from Secunderabad to Nellore on July 27, 2019.

Complainant G. Madhavi, a resident of New Nallakunta, was travelling in Special Express Train No.07115 from Secunderabad to Nellore on July 27 and had fallen asleep in berth No.61 in coach No.S4.

Someone allegedly snatched her gold chain (Thaali Bottu and black beads chain weighing 80 gms) around 2.30 am a little past midnight, as the train was nearing Nadikudi station. She immediately alerted her co-passengers who attempted but failed to apprehend the offender.

In her complaint, Madhavi said that there were no police or TTE to help her and that after arriving at Nadikudi station, the police and TTE responded and advised her to file a police complaint with the Guntur Railway Police. The complainant filed a complaint under Sections 356, 379 of the Indian Penal Code under Crime No.33/2019, but there was no progress in the investigation despite numerous reminder requests to the relevant authorities.

However, the GRP and SCR authorities claimed that under Indian Railway Rule No.506, all objects taken into carriage were carried at the risk of the owners, and that the Railway's liability arose solely in the case of booked luggage under Section 100(3) of the Railways Act, 1989.

While denying the allegations made by the complaint, it was asserted that the then-Sub-Inspector of Police examined criminals/suspects and ex-convicts during the course of the investigation into the complaint at Guntur Railway Police Station. Additionally, it was claimed that the Sub-Inspector also flashed APPMS messages to the nearby police stations with a request to pass on timely information in this case.

He also inquired with gold merchants and pawn dealers in Guntur and Nadikudi regarding the complainant's stolen gold jewelry, but all efforts were unsuccessful.

The GRP and the SCR sought dismissal of the complaint, claiming that all attempts were made by them and that there was no deficit of service on their part.

The National Commission in Union of India & others Vs. Sanjiv Dilsukhrai Dave & another noted that "It is the responsibility of the Railways to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons in the reserved sleeper coaches" and that "a list of duties prescribed by railway administration for "TTE for Sleeper Coaches" is brought on record with regard to the issue of negligence of the railway administration.

He is responsible for keeping the coach doors locked while the train was moving and opening them for passengers as needed. He is responsible for keeping train doors secured between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to prevent anyone from entering the coach. He must be attentive, especially at night, to guarantee that no intruders, beggars, hawkers, or unauthorised persons accesses the train.

The court said that the above duties clearly showed that the TTE assigned to the second-class sleeper coach had a responsibility to be very vigilant about anyone other than reserved ticket holders entering the compartment, to the point where he was required to prevent even a relative of the passenger holding a platform ticket who came to see off a passenger from entering a coach. As stated in Sl. Nos. 16 and 17, the TTE was especially needed to use extreme caution at night. Rule at Sl. No. 14 clearly assigns him the obligation of ensuring that the doors of the coach remain locked while the train is in motion."

The court ruled that neither the Guntur Railway Police nor the South Central Railway refuted the complainant's claim that there was no TTE or railway police in the Coach, nor did they present any evidence that the TTE or the Railway were on duty. The police were carrying out their duties in accordance with the Act.

In the present case, there was no evidence on record indicating that the TTE or the Police were present in the coach, which could have averted/prevented the theft of the gold chain or at least attempt to act against the offender in response to the alarm raised by the woman passenger.

The absence of T.T.E. and police at the time of the alleged theft of the complainant's gold chain demonstrates not only gross dereliction of duty, but also that the respondents were negligent in providing the necessary safety and security to the passengers on the train.

As a result, the court passed the judgement in favour of the complainant.

The court also stated that the complainant's sentiments about losing her mangal sutra gold chain and the resulting loss were understandable, but in the absence of any documentary evidence supporting the claims regarding weight and other details of the gold chain, it's impossible to determine the actual loss suffered. As a result, the Forum determined that the complainants were entitled to appropriate compensation for their loss and mental anguish, and that the respondents were jointly and severally liable to pay it.

The court ordered the opposing parties to pay a compensation of Rs.1 lakh with interest at 9% per annum from January 27, 2019 till the date of realization, as well as Rs.10,000 in costs, within 45 days of the order's date.

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