India is known as one of the largest railway systems in the world under single management. Each one of us must have travelled through trains at some point of time in our lives. Though trains are preferred mode of transport for common man due to the comfort and cost effectiveness, there is one experience which has been particularly irksome. That being the overall cleanliness in general and the same in lavatory in particular.
Feeling anguish and disappointment while going to the toilet has been a common experience. Indian Railways have been directed by the Delhi District Consumer Commission to pay a fine of Rs 30,000 to the passengers who complained against it on the basis on “physical and mental agony” faced due to the dirty toilet and water unavailability.
The bench comprised of Divya Jyoti Jaipuriar, president and Harpreet Kaur Charya, member. They said that amounting to deficiency in services, the railways failed to provide basic amenities of clean toilet and water which is required under the ‘Citizen’s Charter’.
The complainant’s advocate Manan Agarwal said that the railways had completely failed to provide hygiene in compartments as well as the toilets to those passengers who pay in full but still suffer from the dearth of basic needs and if the journey is long it is prolonged anguish.
Giving out the details, the complainant said that he had a taken a reserved 3AC ticket from New Delhi Railway Station to Indore with a thought of having a comfortable and stress free journey. It was on September 3, 2021 that he went to the lavatory to freshen up at 8 am, only to find out that the toilet as well as the washbasin was choked with filth.
With the images that he took, he lodged a complaint with the official online portal of Indian Railways “Rail Madad” around 8.22am and also tweeted the same on the official Twitter handle of Union railway minister and Railway Sewa.
The complaint remained unresolved despite he reaching his destination at 10 pm. The complainant said that not going to the toilet caused him immense physical pressure, headache and forced him to miss work.
Opposing the allegations made, the railways submitted that the toiler services do not come under the ‘Service’ as defined under Consumer Protection Act 2019.
The commission said that “This defence of Indian Railways does not hold any ground as the toilets and water are the basic amenities which cannot be denied to the passengers”.
It further added that “In the facts and circumstances of the present case we direct OP(opposing party) to pay lump sum of Rs 30,000 as compensation on account of physical and mental agony. We further award Rs 10,000 as litigation expenses. The order be complied within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order. In case of noncompliance Rs 40,000 (30,000/-+10,000/-) shall carry interest @7% p.a. from the date of order till compliance”.