A Delhi State Consumer Commission ruling has said that railway passengers cannot be treated differently just because flyers pay more or that trains carry many more people than airlines. And all this because a fish cutlet was served to a vegetarian passenger.
The lapse has cost the Railways Rs 55,500 as penalty,with Commission president Justice B A Zaidi observing that when the gross negligence was established,no other differentiation could be made because everybody paying for travel and food,irrespective of their mode of commutation,was a consumer under the law.
Eight years ago,complainant Mansi Garg and her husband were travelling in the Rajdhani Express from New Delhi to Kolkata and had ordered vegetarian meals. But,as they started eating,they realised that what they had been served was a fish cutlet. A strict vegetarian,Garg complained to the Train Superintendent about the lapse. But the railway employees said it was an inadvertent mistake being blown out of proportion. Garg then filed a consumer case and sought damages,contending that while she suffered shock and mental agony,the authorities added to her misery by failing to hear her sympathetically.
The Railways,however,countered that fish cutlet was not even on the menu on May 14,2002,the day the complainant was traveling,and that the couple had been served vegetable cutlets.
But a district forum passed its verdict in Gargs favour holding: We find no reason to disbelieve the affidavit of the respondent and her husband because there could be no animosity with any of the personnel engaged on duty on the day.
The Railways challenged,but Justice Zaidi noted that the carrier was rightly held guilty of deficiency in service because the complainant was served the fish cutlet despite her asking for vegetarian meals,a gross negligence on the part of the officials of the Railways.
Holding that the compensation of Rs 55,000 was correctly determined,the Commission said: We also find no reason to interfere with the award of compensation and cost of litigation because hurting someones religious sentiments cannot be evaluated in terms of money. It slapped additional cost of Rs 500.