Shot in the arm for rat bite victim

State panel strikes down railway appeal against lower forum's compensation order

By RAJ KUMAR in Ranchi
  • Published 17.03.18

Ranchi: Jharkhand State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has dismissed an appeal by South Eastern Railway that challenged the district consumer forum's order of Rs 1 lakh compensation to a passenger who was bitten by rats in the first class coach of Hatia-Howrah Express.

Dismissing the appeal on March 5, the commission, presided over by Justice Tapen Sen, topped the compensation with an additional penalty of Rs 25,000 for the "unwarranted sufferings" of retired SAIL chief engineer P.C. Sinha.

It has asked the railway authorities to clear the payment within 30 days from the date of verdict, failing which the victim will be entitled to an additional penal interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum with retrospective effect from February 8, 2016, the date when he filed a complaint with the district consumer forum.

"We are satisfied that the impugned order does not suffer from illegality and/or irregularity. We, accordingly, dismiss the appeal," read the order whose certified copy was issued on March 15.

The commission observed how horrifying the experience must have been for the 72-year-old victim and flayed poor maintenance of coaches by railway authorities.

"Being bitten by a rodent, and that too in a premier coach, is a horrendous experience... shows the apathy of the railways in not taking preventive measures... We are satisfied that such an incident caused extreme suffering and mental anguish to the person," it said.

Sinha, a resident of Bano Manzil Road near Ranchi Hill, had faced the rodent attack around midnight on December 30, 2015. The Ranchi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum had awarded the compensation of Rs 1 lakh on September 20, 2017, and the South Eastern Railway had moved the state commission in December the same year.

This newspaper had highlighted Sinha's agony three year ago and had also published on October 10, 2017, the first judgment.

Sinha, who along with wife Alka runs a playschool since retirement, thanked the commission for upholding the lower forum's order. "My purpose is to save fellow passengers the suffering," said Sinha, who had argued his case himself.

Senior divisional commercial manager of South Eastern Railway M.R. Acharya on Friday said he had not received a copy of the order. "So far, I have not come across the order and hence, I am not in a position to speak in this regard (payment of compensation)," he said.