By Kartik Kumar
The district consumer disputes redressal forum of Panchkula has ordered the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the Indian Railways to pay Rs 15,000 in compensation to a consumer for denying him a confirmed ticket while passengers listed below him on the waiting list got these.
Adarsh Kumar Jain, a resident of Sector 7, on June 20, 2014, booked a ticket in the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi which was scheduled for departure the following day and was allotted number 36 on the waiting list.
The next day, when he reached the Chandigarh Railway Station, he found from the reservation chart that he had not been assigned a seat while those below him on the waiting list had got these.
Jain contacted the Assistant Station Master who informed him that confirmations were done on the recommendations of ministers and thus, the order was broken.
He then lodged a complaint on the Indian Railways portal. In reply, they stated, “The matter was investigated and it was found that your wait-listed ticket was not confirmed, as tickets were given to VIP quota and e-tickets. Thus, several tickets were cancelled automatically, if they were on waiting list.”
Jain alleged that he received an email from IRCTC that his booked ticket had been “cancelled on his request”, although he had not made any such request.
He then registered a complaint with the consumer court. In response, the Public Relations Office of Northern Railways stated that they were not liable for booking, reservation, cancellation or confirmation of seats in a train and no cause of action had arisen against them. Further, it said that Jain had misquoted his waitlisted number which was 91. According to the waiting list chart, the last running waiting list passenger confirmed by the computer system was number 39, the reply said.
IRCTC in its reply stated that their company and the Indian Railways were two different entities and they only provided access to railway passenger reservation system through its server and internet connectivity to book the ticket. The allocation of seats was managed by the Indian Railways and IRCTC had not role in it.
Forum president Dharam Pal noted that a passenger with a wait-listed number of 70 had been granted confirmation and, therefore, the possibility of preferential treatment arises. Also, a copy of the complainant’s email showed that the customer care of IRCTC had sent a message stating that the booking of his ticket had “been cancelled successfully as per your request”, but there was no evidence on record.
Thus, holding the respondents responsible for deficiency in service, the forum ordered them to pay Rs 10,000 in compensation and Rs 5,000 towards litigation costs within a period of 30 days with 9 per cent interest.