J.S Klar, Presiding Judicial Member
1. The appellant of this appeal (opposite party in the complaint) has directed this appeal against order dated 12.09.2013 of District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum Mohali accepting the complaint of the complainant by directing the appellant to refund the booking amount of Rs.1828/- with interest @ 9% p.a w.e.f. 05.08.2011 till the date of actual realization and to pay compensation of Rs.10,000/- for mental harassment. The respondent of this appeal is the complainant in the complaint and appellant of this appeal is OP in the complaint and they be referred as such hereinafter for the sake of convenience.
2. The complainant has filed the complaint U/s 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short, "the Act") against the OPs on the averments that OP is being run by Government of India under the Ministry of Railway and having its railway station at Chandigarh. OP is an authorized representative of IRCTC. The complainant booked two tickets from the OP on internet on 06.08.2011 from Chandigarh to Lucknow on 05.08.2011, vide transaction ID No.037463217 PNR No.2223969001 Class 3 and name is 05904/CDG DBRG SPL in tatkal quota on account of serious illness of his grandmother and paid Rs.1828/- through internet banking through his banker namely HDFC Bank. The grandmother of the complainant expired on 06.08.2011 and complainant reached railway station in time and enquired about the status of the train and he was told by stationmaster and superintendent of station Chandigarh that it was late by 15 hours from schedule. The complainant arranged the taxi and reached New Delhi and thereafter travelled through rail after purchasing a new ticket to Lucknow. The complainant spent Rs.2000/- for taxi and other expenses to purchase a new ticket from Delhi to Lucknow. On 07.08.2011, he cancelled his tickets through internet reference no.ekt201187003024459 as train was late for more than three hours. The complainant sent email on the official site of the OPs after waiting for nine days on 16.08.2011 for refund of the tickets amount, which was paid by the complainant to OP. But OP replied on 20.08.2011 that refund was in process through TDR. The complainant sent another emails on 31.12.2011, 17.01.2012 and 24.02.2012 to OP and also filed another complaint, whereas only one email was received by the complainant from OP on 15.07.2012 after lapse of 11 months for refund from the concerned department. The complainant sent registered letter to Director of OP, but did not response thereto. The complainant received email from OP on 20.03.2013 that his case for refund of PNR No.2223969001 has been forwarded to CCM/NF Railway on 24.08.2011. The complainant also served a legal notice dated 28.05.2013, but amount has not been refunded to complainant. The complainant has, thus, filed the complaint that OP be directed to pay entire amount of tickets on account of expenses incurred therewith and to pay Rs.1 lac as compensation for mental harassment and Rs.22,000/- as costs of litigation.
3. Upon notice, OP appeared and filed written reply and contested the complaint of the complainant vehemently. It was averred in preliminary objections that complainant has no cause of action to file the complaint. The complaint is bad for non joinder of the necessary parties. Any deficiency in service was denied. Only Railway Claim Tribunal Act, 1987 is competent to decide the matter and jurisdiction of this Forum is excluded. On merits, it was averred that OP is a public sector incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 and has no control over the operation, management of Passenger Reservation System. It was denied that IRCTC has any railway station at Chandigarh. Train operations and working of the railways stations controlled by the concerned zonal railways only. E-tickets cannot be cancelled after chart preparation. Users may use the online TDR filing for such cases and track status of the refund case through tracking service provided. TDR can be filed as per railway rules. No refund of fare shall be admissible on e-tickets having confirmed reservation. It was averred that OP has no role in deciding the refund as it only provides access to Railway Passenger Reservation System through its server and internet connectively to book the ticket through it. Any deficiency in service on the part of OP was vehemently denied and it prayed for dismissal of the complaint.
4. The complainant tendered in evidence his affidavit Ex.CW-1/1 along with copies of documents Ex.C-2 to Ex.C-14. As against it; OP tendered in evidence affidavit of Sh. K.C. Hatwalkar Assistant Manager (Tourism) IRCTC Regional Office Chandigarh Ex.OP-1/1 along with copies of documents Ex.OP-1/17. On conclusion of evidence and arguments, the District Forum Mohali accepted the complaint of the complainant by virtue of order dated 12.09.2013. Dissatisfied with the order of the District Forum Mohali dated 12.09.2013, OP now appellant, carried this appeal against the same.
5. We have heard learned counsel for the parties at considerable length and have also examined the record of the case. Ex.C-1 is Electronic Reservation Slip, vide transaction ID : 0374632107 PNR No.2223969001, Schedule Departure is : 23:10. Ex.C-2 is journey-cum-reservation ticket after charting from New Delhi to Lucknow purchased by the complainant on 07.08.2011. Ex.C-3 is transaction details. Ex.C-4 is email. Ex.C-5 is email regarding refund of the fare. Ex.C-6 to Ex.C-14 are emails correspondence with regard to refund of the amount at the instance of the complainant.
6. To refute this evidence, OP relied upon affidavit of Sh. K.C. Hatwalkar Assistant Manager (Tourism) IRCTC Regional Office Chandigarh to the effect that it is only the Railway Department, which is responsible and OP is not to be blamed for refund of the process. Ex.OP-1 is commercial circular no. EO/2005 addressed to OP by Advisor Passenger Marketing Railway Board. It has established that IRCTC would correspond with the zonal railway under which destination station of train falls as that railway would be in a position to verify from the destination chart, as to whether the passenger had performed journey or not. This circular has been addressed to OP by Advisor Passenger Marketing Railway Board. As per this circular Ex.OP-1, it is OP which is to correspond with zonal railway under which destination station of train falls as that railway would be in a position to verify from the destination chart as to whether the passenger had performed journey or not. Ex.OP-2 is TDR Details. Ex.OP-3 is reminder addressed to Chief Regional Manager/Eastern Zone/Guwahati (IRCTC) for processing of refund at the earliest in favour of IRCTC for onward crediting the same to the customer through payment gateway as a considerable time has already elapsed. Ex.OP-4 is another reminder dated 02.01.2012. Ex.OP-5 to Ex.OP-14 are emails have been looked into by us in this regard.
7. From above referred discussion on the record, the complainant booked e-ticket on internet banking through OP. The payment was remitted to OP, it is duty of the OP to further communicate with the concerned authority of the railway and the complainant hired the services of the OP in this regard. The emphatic submission of counsel for OP now appellant is that it verified from destination chart and found that complainant has not performed journey on 07.08.2011, vide list of pending cases Ex.OP-3 to Ex.OP-7. The correspondence exchanged between OP and Chief Regional Manager/Eastern Zone/Guwahati (IRCTC) for refund in pursuance of Commercial Circular No.EO/2005 Ex.OP-1. The complainant applied for refund of the tickets by filing TDR on 07.08.2011 and matter in process for refund before Chief Regional Manager, Guwahati. OP has not promptly brought the refund process to the notice of the complainant. It is departmental communication with OP and Chief Regional Manager. As per documents of OP Ex.OP-3 to Ex.OP-14 on the record, the OPs were promptly response to complainant. The OP cannot absolve from its legal obligation for providing quick service to the passengers. Section 15 of the Railway Tribunal would not be applicable in this case because Railway Department is not impleaded as a party and complainant is aggrieved by the deficient service of OP only. We, thus, find that order of the District Forum rightly accepted complaint by giving direction for refund of the amount of Rs.1828/- with interest @ 9% per annum w.e.f. 05.08.2011 till the date of actual payment and Rs.10,000/- as compensation for mental harassment.
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As a result of our above discussion, we do not find any illegality or infirmity in the order of the District Forum calling for any interference therein. The order of the District Forum is, thus, affirmed in this appeal. The appeal is hereby dismissed. 9. The appellant had deposited an amount of Rs.6114/- with this Commission at the time of filing the appeal. This amount with interest, if any, accrued thereon, be refunded by the registry to the complainant of this appeal by way of crossed cheque/demand draft after the expiry of 45 days. Remaining amount, if any, due shall also be paid to complainant by the appellant within 45 days from receipt of the copy of this order. 10. Arguments in this appeal were heard on 21.12.2016 and the order was reserved. Copies of the order be communicated to the parties as per rules. 11. The appeal could not be decided within the statutory period due to heavy pendency of court cases.