A district consumer forum in New Delhi has directed the Northern Railway to pay Rs 75,000 as compensation to a former Member of Parliament who lost his suitcase, which was also containing a pistol, while travelling from New Delhi to Gorakhpur in 2002. The forum held Northern Railway “guilty of deficiency in service” and asked it to pay the sum to ex-MP Prakash Mani Tripathi, also a former Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, and said the theft happened due to the “negligence” of the railway staff.
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“It is the uncontroverted but proved case that the complainant was travelling in a pre-reserved first class AC cabin which could not have any access to any outsider. It means that the entry to his cabin could be gained by a third person with the negligence and/or connivance of the railway staff,” the forum, headed by its president Justice N K Goel, said. “We hold the opposite party (Northern Railway) guilty of deficiency in service,” the forum said.
It also held that there was no reason to disbelieve the version of the complainant that his suitcase was stolen from the train as he is a former Deputy Chief of the Army Staff and a former parliamentarian. According to the complaint, Tripathi got a reservation in AC first class to travel from New Delhi to Gorakhpur on June 9, 2002 by Vaishali Express.
As soon as the train left New Delhi station, he found that his suitcase was stolen and informed the officials. In his complaint, Tripathi alleged that no outsider could have entered the cabin without the conductor/railway staff’s
permission/connivance and, thus the “loss was caused due to gross indifference, negligence, overt and covert acts of omission and commission on the part of the Railway”.
The Northern Railway, however, claimed that Tripathi was not carrying any suitcase and denied carelessness alleged on the part of railway staff. The forum also said that Section 100 of the Railway Act does make the Railway Department responsible for the loss suffered by passengers if the loss has been caused due to negligence or misconduct on its part or on the part of any of its servant.