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Consumer court penalises IRCTC, booking officer at Bengaluru railway station for ordeal of elderly couple

Bengaluru: A consumer court in the city recently directed the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the chief booking officer at the KSR Bengaluru City railway station to jointly pay over Rs 62,000 to an aggrieved consumer for deficiency of service.

Alok Kumar, a resident of Pattandur Agrahara, Whitefield, moved the Bangalore Urban 3rd Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in April 2022, requesting the two parties to refund a total amount of Rs 22,300.

The issue concerns a trip that his elderly parents took in the Rajdhani Express from New Delhi to Barauni Junction in Begusarai, Bihar, and had to pay extra despite having confirmed tickets worth Rs 6,995.

On March 21, 2022, Alok’s parents (aged 71 and 77) boarded the train in New Delhi with two confirmed tickets. To their shock, they saw two other passengers sitting on their seats. Upon checking with the train ticket examiner (TTE), they were informed that the status of their tickets showed “no room”, thus rendering them invalid.

They were then asked to either deboard the train or pay an additional Rs 22,300 as a penalty and extra ticket fare. Faced with no alternative, Alok’s parents paid the extra fare to make the trip.

Distressed by this ordeal, Alok reported the issue to the Indian Railways and the IRCTC, but received no satisfactory response and was refused a refund.

At the court hearing, the advocate representing IRCTC denied her party’s role in the whole case, but Alok argued that although the IRCTC portal may have been hacked to enable two confirmed tickets to be resold to other passengers, the corporation was equally responsible for the ordeal.

In the court judgement delivered on October 18, the bench declared that both the named parties — IRCTC and the chief booking officer — were responsible and directed them to jointly pay Rs 22,300 along with an interest rate of 9 per cent per annum from March 21, 2022, till realisation.

The court also directed both parties to pay Rs 30,000 as compensation for mental agony and Rs 10,000 as litigation costs.

(Published 22 October 2023, 20:18 IST)

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