Shipra Sengupta v. G.M. (Commercial) Southern Railway

AIR 2006 (NOC) 795

Introduction

 Basic overview of the case

Shipra Sengupta, contended that she has been illegally fined by the staff of the Southern Railways when her journey was over from Howrah to Chennai on 8.07.02 at Central Station, Chennai.

A staff member of Railways wanted to check railway ticket, taking the ticket he demanded some written proof of her age. She showed him medical papers which stated her age as 64 years. Her ticket was also duly checked at Howrah.

On arrival of her relative, she wanted to go with him as it was completely dark. The staff member of Railways has demanded some bribe from her and as she didn’t pay it, she was not allowed to leave the platform and kept her in the supervision of a constable for the whole night. She was not even allowed to call up the Hospital which she was supposed to visit. She was fined a penal charge of Rs.3,806/- treating her as a ticketless passenger. She was not having that much cash with her. The railway person forced her to borrow the money from the others. She had stitched some money in her personal garment which he forced her to cut the stitch of her garment in public to pay him the money. She faced humiliation, agony and harassment in her 64 years of life. She handed over Rs.3,806/- for which he gave her a receipt.

Later she met the Addl. General Manager, Public Grievance Cell. She had also submitted her Passport photocopy as her proof of age, despite that her money was not been refunded.

 Acts applied- Name of the Act in Upper Case, year of its enactment

 Bench

HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE M.B. SHAH, PRESIDENT; DR.  P.D. SHENOY, MEMBER.

Issues

N/A

Judgement

The honourable court observed that, as per extant rules, passengers of the age group of 65 years and above for men and 60 years and above for women are granted Senior Citizen Concession. NO age proof certificate is required for availing the concession at the time of booking of the ticket. It is crystal clear that she was of 64 years of age and was a senior citizen eligible for availing the concession as per the Railways policy that women above 60 years are treated as senior citizen. In view of the above, court direct the refund of Rs.3806/- charged as penalty and also to pay a compensation of Rs.25,000/- for the irreparable physical and mental agony and insult caused to a dignified and decent lady who is a widow and who had gone for medical treatment to Chennai.

Case Commentary

 What is your interpretation of the case?

as per extant rules, passengers of the age group of 65 years and above for men and 60 years and above for women are granted Senior Citizen Concession. NO age proof certificate is required for availing the concession at the time of booking of the ticket.

However, the passengers who had availed this concession are required to produce documentary proof of age during travel. The documentary proof thus produced should be the one issued by any Government Institute/Agency/Local body like identity card, Ration Card, Driving Licence, Passport, Panchayat/Corporation/Municipality or any other authentic document.

At that time, the railways had not specified what “other authentic document” constituted a valid proof of age so pointing this out, the Apex consumer court had criticised the railways for harassing a woman also a senior citizen travelling alone.

Moreover, the proof of age was sought after the completion of journey at Chennai though it is specifically mentioned on the reverse of the ticket checking during journey.

Conclusion

the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission asked the railways to refund the penalty of Rs 3,806 collected from the passenger and in addition, pay Rs 25,000 as compensation. In this case, a senior citizen was humiliated and detained by a railway employee and made to pay a penalty for not showing a ‘valid age proof’.

Reference

Indiankanoon.org. 2020. Mrs. Shipra Sengupta, Mr. Sanjay … vs G.M. (Commercial) Southern … on 3 January, 2006. [online] Available at: < https://indiankanoon.org/doc/265438/ > [Accessed 8 August 2020].