The Supreme Court of India has ruled that the theft of personal belongings from a passenger does not constitute a deficiency of service by the Railways. This decision comes in response to a case where a passenger sought reimbursement for stolen cash during a train journey. The court held that the responsibility for protecting personal belongings lies with the passenger, not the Railways.
Mr. Surender Bhola, the respondent in the case, was traveling by train and had Rs. 1 lakh in cash secured around his waist. Unfortunately, the cash was stolen during the journey. Bhola filed a claim before the District Consumer Forum, arguing that the theft occurred due to the Railways’ failure to provide adequate service.
The District Consumer Forum ruled in his favor, ordering the Railways to reimburse the stolen amount. The decision was upheld by the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).
The Supreme Court bench, consisting of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, disagreed with the lower courts’ rulings. They stated that the theft of personal belongings cannot be considered a deficiency in service by the Railways.
The court emphasized that passengers are responsible for safeguarding their belongings, and the Railways cannot be held accountable if a passenger fails to do so. Consequently, the bench set aside the orders of the NCDRC, State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, and the District Consumer Forum, allowing the appeal.