Consumer Forum penalizes Railways for Rat menace

मंगलूरु Mangalore (MAQ): Through a judgment, Dakshina Kannada District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, has ordered the Southern Railway to pay an amount of Rs 10,000 as compensation to Pradeep Kumar Shetty for the losses he suffered on account of rats which moved about in one of its trains. It also ordered the railways to meet court costs of Rs 2,000. In case of failure to comply with these instructions within a month, the railways will be bound pay interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum on the said amount to the complainant.

President of the Forum, Asha Shetty, and member, Lavanya M Rai, delivered this unique judgment.

Although it is common for the commuters of trains to face predicament, fear, and losses on account of proliferation of rats which are seen moving about freely in coaches including air-conditioned ones, rarely one knocks at the doors of the judiciary to make good the losses he or she suffers. In this case, Pradeep Kumar Shetty and his friends from Kundapur taluk had undertaken Shabarimala visit through a train. After arriving at Chenganur railway station in Kerala during return journey, the group bought a sari and garments for children there. The Prasadam of Lord Ayyappa had also been kept with the clothes, and the bag had been kept below their berths.

During the return journey, rats not only gnawed through the bag in which the above items were kept, but also gobbled up the sari and childrens’ garments found inside, turning them into tatters full of holes.

Shetty and his friends were dismayed at finding after reaching Mangalore that their things had been destroyed by rats, promptly filed a complaint with the station manager there. The station manager signed a copy of the complaint in acknowledgement of having received it. As the railway department failed to respond to the complaint even after long time, Shetty filed a complaint in district consumers forum. The forum issued notice to the railway department, seeking its response and explanation.

As the officials of the railways failed to respond, the court, after going through the records, ordered payment compensation and court costs as above.