THE CONSUMER Forum of Panchkula has directed IRCTC to pay Rs 13,560 to a retired Army official of Panchkula for booking his two tickets for a train from Jaipur to Chandigarh which was already cancelled 12 days earlier. They intimated him about the train cancellation after the date of departure.
Lt Col (Retd) Mandeep Singh Dhillon of Panchkula booked two tickets for himself and his wife Jatinder Kaur Dhillon through IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd) for Jaipur to Chandigarh on December 12, 2017. The tickets were booked for AC 2 Tier in Intercity Express. He paid an amount of Rs 2,590 to IRCTC through net banking. The tickets were shown confirmed for the journey scheduled for December 18.
On December 17, 2017, Dhillon along with his wife went to the railway station for checking the exact timing of the train as it was not mentioned in the reservation message. They were shocked to know that the train had been cancelled since December 1, 2017, but the Railways or the IRCTC did not inform them of the cancellation. They received intimation by IRCTC about cancellation of train on December 19.
Dhillon alleged that IRCTC or Railways made no alternative arrangements for them. The couple then booked two tickets on the only available flight from Jaipur to Chandigarh — it was of Jet Airways — and paid an amount of Rs 10,560 to reach back their hometown.
IRCTC in its reply submitted that IRCTC and Indian Railways are two different entities. The role of IRCTC is limited to the provision of the internet access to Railway Passenger Reservation System through its server and internet connectivity to book e-ticket through it. IRCTC is never aware of any change in train operation like train late, train cancellation, as the same comes within the purview of Indian Railways. IRCTC also denied that it was their duty to inform the complainant or to make alternative arrangements for the complainant.
The complainant, however, argued that he had booked the tickets with IRCTC and paid money to IRCTC. The refund of money was also made by IRCTC and not Railways. Therefore, IRCTC cannot claim its role is limited to the provision of internet access to the reservation system of the Railways.
After hearing the arguments, the forum held that “it is not the case of the IRCTC that it is providing the services on a charitable basis or on no profit no loss basis”. Undoubtedly, IRCTC is a service provider and collecting money from its consumers and making profit. Thus it cannot escape from its liability to compensate the consumers by saying that its role is limited to the provision of the internet access to Railway Passenger Reservation System, the forum observed.
“…there is a serious lapse on the part of the OP (IRCTC) while not informing the complainant regarding the cancellation of the train. Moreover, the deficiency and the lapse on the part of the OP became more serious when we notice that the train was cancelled w.e.f. 01.12.2017 vide letter dated 29.11.2017 issued by Ministry of Railways whereas the complainant was conveyed on 19.12.2017…”, read the judgment.
Thus the forum in the judgment, released on March 1, directed IRCTC to refund the amount of Rs 10,560 to the complainant along with interest at 9 per cent per annum on the amount from the date of filing of present complaint, and also pay a lump sum of Rs 3,000 on account of mental agony, harassment and cost of litigation charges.