A 63-year-old man from Agra fought a battle for more than five years and attended 45 hearings, to get a sum of Rs440 from the Indian Railways.
He finally won the battle when the Agra district consumer forum court ruled in his favour, ordering the Indian Railways to hand over the amount along with a 7% annual interest.
The court said that if the payment was delayed beyond 45 days, the interest would increase to 9%.
Railway officials were further asked to pay an extra Rs8,000 for causing financial and mental distress, alongside the legal fees to the complainant.
This saga began back in 2017, when Munnalal Agarwal bought a 2nd AC ticket through ‘Tatkal’ quota to travel from Banda junction to Agra Cantt station in the Uttar Pradesh Sampark Kranti Express for Rs1,570.
However, when the train arrived, it had no 2nd AC coach attached to it.
“I sprinted across the platform, and jumped into any coach I could,” he said.
Once the train started moving, instead of the comfort he paid for, the TTE allotted him a seat in the 3rd AC coach, an option cheaper by Rs440.
“It was a chaotic scene,” Munnalal recounted.
“In the 3rd AC coach, I discovered that the seat I was assigned to someone else and was already occupied,” he said.
He voiced his objections, but the TTE shrugged them off.
The ordeal worsened his health, he said.
Despite Munnalal’s efforts, the extra money he shelled out was never returned.
After not getting any response to complaints filed online and through letters, Munnalal issued a legal notice to the North Central Railways on 28 November 2017.
He got a response after five months on 10 April 2018, with the railways not recognising the grievance as genuine.
After fruitless attempts through complaints and legal notices, Munnalal decided to take the railways to the Agra district consumer forum in September 2018.
The Indian Railways tried to dodge the case, saying the complaint should be handled by a railway claims tribunal, but Munnalal and his team cited Supreme Court precedents to prove their point.
Munnalal, a former retailer of sweets and biscuits, saw this as a fight for every passenger who had to bear a similar plight.
“Several other passengers who had booked the ticket for the 2nd AC coach had to suffer. Following my troublesome experience, I decided to fix accountability with the Railways.
"This was always about a fight for consumer rights. Not acting against wrongdoing paves the way for corruption and injustice on a larger scale. It was a long, tiring legal battle, and I am delighted to have achieved my purpose," he added.
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