Decided on January 16,2008



- (1.) PRESIDING Judicial Member -This appeal is directed against the order passed by District Consumer Forum, Solapur in consumer complaint No. 119/2002 dated 2.1.2006, whereby the learned District Consumer Forum was pleased to direct Railways to pay to the complainants an amount of Rs. 1 lakh towards mental compensation and Rs. 500 towards cost. Brief facts of the case may be narrated as under:
(2.) COMPLAINANTS who are legal heirs of deceased Abhimanyu Mulade are resident of Solapur. They had filed consumer complaint alleging negligence and deficiency in service on the part of Indian Railways. According to complainants, Abhimanyu Mulade was working as Bill Collector in Allahabad Bank, Mumbai branch. He used to reside in Mumbai and intermittently used to go to Solapur to meet them. On 7.5.2001, he was travelling from Mumbai to Solapur by Hussain Sagar Express. He was hale and hearty, when he started train journey. But when the train was approaching Kurduwadi about 20 -25 minutes before Kurduwadi station, in the Railway journey Abhimanyu Mulade was feeling restless. The co -passengers reported this fact to on -duty constable at Kurduwadi station. Co -passengers requested railway police that Abhimanyu Mulade was having pain in the chest, he was feeling restless and some medical help should be given. But railway police did not give any positive response. In fact those passengers were abused and directed to approach station officials at Solapur. When train streamed into Solapur junction, one duty constable Mr. Waghmare, Bakkal No. 475 was approached and passengers told him that Abhimanyu Mulade expired, because no prompt medical aid was given at Kurduwadi junction. Deceased was to get down at Solapur itself. So they requested that dead body of Abhimanyu Mulade should be taken out from the compartment. But constable did not help the co -passengers and, ultimately, the dead body was taken out from the compartment at Wadi junction in Karnataka State. FIR was lodged at Wadi station and after post -mortem was over, on next day, dead body was given to the complainants by railway police at Wadi junction and, therefore, complainant filed consumer complaint alleging that Railways were negligent and deficient in service in not giving prompt medical aid to Abhimanyu Mulade and, therefore, they claimed damages of Rs. 3 lakh for mental agony suffered by them. They filed abstract of diary, abstract of memo, post -mortem report, statements recorded by police, action taken report against constable Mr. Waghmare and also filed affidavit in support of their complaint.
(3.) O .P./Railways filed written statement and pleaded that dispute involved was not a consumer dispute and consumer Forum had no authority in law to entertain such type of complaint. Jurisdiction was with the Railway Claims Tribunal and there is clear cut bar under Sections 13 and 15 of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987 and railway constable was the employee of State Government and, therefore, State of Maharashtra should have been proceeded against and they had been wrongly impleaded in the consumer complaint. According to Railways, Hussain Sagar Express was having stop at Kurduwadi junction and deceased passenger should have contacted Guard or TTE in the train itself. Compartment of the Guard was adjacent to general bogie and if they would have been contacted, the Railways would have provided immediate medical aid, but the co -passengers approached wrongly to Government Railway Police and for the negligence of the railway police, railways cannot be held responsible and, therefore, railway pleaded that complaint should be dismissed with cost. However, it was found by the Forum below that Railways had not filed any documents or affidavits in support of written statement. Thereafter, on the basis of affidavits and documents, learned District Consumer Forum held railways vicariously liable for the negligence exhibited by Government railway police. The policeman on duty at Kurduwadi as well as at Solapur did not take due and proper care of the passengers travelling by Hussain Sagar Express and, therefore, Forum below held railways responsible for the omission to perform his duty by police constable Mr. Waghmare, Bakkal No. 475. Forum below also noted that dead body should have been taken out at Solapur junction itself, but it was allowed to go upto Wadi Junction. So there was further deficiency in service on the part of Railways and, therefore, the learned District Consumer Forum was pleased to pass an award for Rs. 1 lakh and directed Railways to pay the said amount. Aggrieved thereby, Railways has filed this appeal.;

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