Theft during a train journey is not a deficiency in service by the Railways and the public transporter cannot be held responsible if the passenger is not able to protect his own belongings, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah made the observation while setting aside an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) which had directed the Railways to pay ₹ 1 lakh to a businessman.
The businessman had raised a claim before the District Consumer Forum stating he lost ₹ 1 lakh cash he was carrying in a belt tied around his waist while travelling by a train, and sought reimbursement from the Railways for his loss.
“We fail to understand as to how the theft could be said to be in any way a deficiency in service by the Railways. If the passenger is not able to protect his own belongings, the Railways cannot be held responsible,” the bench said.
The top court was hearing an appeal filed by the Railways against the order of the NCDRC, which had directed it to pay ₹ 1 lakh to Surender Bhola.
Mr Bhola was travelling to New Delhi by Kashi Vishwanath Express on April 27, 2005, and was occupying a reserved berth. He said he was going to give the money, which he had kept in a belt made of cloth which was tied it to his waist, to shopkeepers with whom he had business dealings.
He woke up around 3:30 AM and found the belt missing and part of the right side of his trousers cut open.
After alighting, he lodged an FIR with the Government Railway Police (GRP) in Delhi.