Railways liable to compensate for late arrival of trains unless proved delay beyond control: SC
New Delhi: In a significant order, the Supreme Court has said that every passenger's time is “precious” and the Railways is liable to pay the compensation for “delay and late arrival of trains' unless it proves that the delay was due to the reasons beyond their control.
A bench of justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose, refused to allow the appeal of Northern Western Railway against the verdict of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).
The apex consumer panel had confirmed the order of compensation passed by the consumer courts below allowing the complaint of one Sanjay Shukla who along with three others missed the connecting flight to Srinagar in 2016 as the train reached four hours behind the scheduled arrival at Jammu Tawi station. They had boarded the train at Alwar in Rajasthan.
Besides losing the expenses incurred in booking flight tickets, the complainant and others had to take taxi for travelling to Srinagar from Jammu.
The top court upheld the verdict of the NCDRC which had directing the Northern Western Railway to pay Rs. 15,000 for taxi expenses, Rs.10,000 towards booking expenses along with Rs 5,000 each towards mental agony and litigation expenses.
It did not agree to the contention that late running of train cannot be said to be deficiency in service on Railways' part and certain rules said that there shall not be any liability to pay compensation for late running of train as there may be number of reasons for such delayed running of trains.
“Therefore, unless and until the evidence is laid explaining the delay and it is established and proved that delay occurred which was beyond their control and/or even there was some justification for delay, the railway is liable to pay the compensation for delay and late arrival of trains,” the bench said in the order uploaded on Monday.
It said no evidence was led by the Railways explaining the delay and late arrival of train at Jammu, it said.
“The railways were required to lead the evidence and explain the late arrival of train to establish and prove that delay occurred because of the reasons beyond their control. At least the railways were required to explain the delay which the railways failed. It cannot be disputed that every passenger's time is precious and they might have booked the tickets for further journey, like in the present case from Jammu to Srinagar and thereafter further journey,” the order said.
Referring to the facts of the case and the orders passed by the District Forum confirmed by the State Commission and the National Commission, it said the impugned orders awarding compensation to the complainant do not warrant any interference.
“It is not in dispute that there was a delay in the arrival of the Ajmer Jammu Express Train by four hours. As per the scheduled time, the train was to reach at Jammu Tawi at 8:10 a.m. on 11.06.2016. However, it reached Jammu Tawi at 12:00 noon,” it said, adding that it led to a situation where the complainants missed their flight to Srinagar.