Thane Additional District Consumer Redressal Forum's president AZ Telgote and member Tryambak A Thool observed that "it is the duty of the railway administration to provide adequate security to passengers and their property during the journey."
The complainant, Vinod Naik, a resident of Ulhasnagar in the district, informed the forum that on May 14, 2015 he was travelling by Kochuveli-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
At around 2:10 am, someone pulled the chain, bringing the train to a halt. Following this, the train stopped for around 25 minutes between Kolad and Mangaon stations, when some unidentified men stole his wife's gold jewellery, along with his mobile phone and cash, worth Rs 2.9 lakh, he alleged.
No railway policeman or Train Ticket Examiner (TTE) was available in the compartment, Mr Naik said alleging that his belongings were stolen due to the negligence and deficiency in service by the Konkan Railway, causing him financial loss and mental agony.
Vinod Naik told the forum that the respondent is liable to compensate him and sought Rs 2.9 lakh for loss of property, Rs 5 lakh for physical and mental harassment and Rs 25,000 towards the legal expenses.
The Konkan Railway contested Mr Naik's claims saying that the rail administration is only responsible for the carriage of goods entrusted to it with a valid consignment receipt.
Also, limited manpower in the Railway Protection Force (RPF) makes it impossible for the railway to deploy RPF personnel in every compartment. Keeping all this in mind, the railway cannot be held responsible for negligence.
The forum rejected the submissions of the respondent, observing that it is the duty of the railway administration to provide adequate security to the passengers and their property during journey, and that the paucity of staff cannot be an excuse to avoid responsibility.
Having considered the evidence on record and submissions made by the parties, there is negligence and deficiency in service on part of the respondent due to which the man suffered financial loss and mental agony, the consumer forum said.
Under these circumstances, he is entitled to be compensated, the forum held in its order last week, ordering the Konkan Railway Corporation to pay Rs 1 lakh for the loss incurred by the complainant, Rs 50,000 towards compensation for his mental agony and Rs 15,000 for the litigation charges.
The compensation is to be paid within 45 days, or else it will attract an interest at 12 per cent per annum, the forum added.
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