EXCERPTS FROM ORDER ISSUED BY NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
Transfer Petition No. 4 of 2004
CASE OF THE COMPLAINANT
The case illustrates how arbitrarily Government officers can misbehave and harass a senior citizen for whom various benefits are provided by the Government and thereby frustrates the beneficial schemes and rendering the senior citizen helpless.
Mrs. Shipra Sengupta, Petitioner herein has sent a representation dated 22 nd June, 2004 to this Commission enclosing a copy of her representation dated 28 th April, 2003 wherein she has stated that she has filed a case No. 838/2003 in District Consumer Forum, Chennai North contending 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 came near and wanted to check railway ticket. Her ticket number was 44667088 PNR No. 622-2009621, age 64 years and train no. 2811. Taking the ticket in his hand he demanded some written proof of her age. She showed him medical papers which stated her age 64 years as she was visiting Chennai for the purpose of Eye Surgery. Her ticket was duly checked at Howrah and also on the way and the checking staff were satisfied about proof of the age. The staff member of Railways demanded some bribe from her and as she did not pay he did not allow her to leave the platform and kept her in the supervision of a constable for the whole night. She was not allowed to meet the Station Master nor they took her to any office near the platform. She was not even allowed to call up the Hospital which she was to visit on the next day. He inflicted a penal charge of Rs.3,806/- treating here as a ticket-less passenger.
She met the Addl. G.M. Public Grievance Cell. She had also submitted her Passport photocopy as proof of age. But despite that her money has not been refunded. The West Bengal State Commission has forwarded her application with their comments that the applicant is an old and partly incapacitated person. After hearing the parties and considering the dispute involved the matter was withdrawn to this Commission for deciding it on merits.
After going through the facts of the case we find that the record supports most of the contentions of the Complainant. The Complainant had shown a prescription of Dr. Rajalakshmi Iyer, Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Wellesley Medicentre and also the Patient's Health Card issued by Peerless Hospital and B.K. Roy Research Centre, Kolkata which mentioned her age as 64 years to the checking staff at Chennai Railway Station. But these were disregarded and he wanted proof of age signed by Government Authorities stating that it is mandatory.
This is a classic case of high-handedness on the part of the Railways' Staff Member who for reasons best known to him detained a helpless lonely lady passenger and had handed over her to the police despite the fact that her ticket was checked at Kolkata and during the course of her journey.
A public functionary if he acts maliciously or oppressively and the exercise of power results in harassment and agony then it is not an exercise of power but its abuse. No law provides protection against it. He who is responsible for it must suffer it. Compensation or damage as explained earlier may arise even when the officer discharges his duty honestly and bonafide. But when it arises due to arbitrary or capricious behaviour then it loses its individual character and assumes social significance. Harassment of a common man by public authorities is socially abhorring and legally impermissible. It may harm him personally but the injury to society is far more grievous. Crime and corruption thrive and prosper in the society due to lack of public resistance. Nothing is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness. An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting succumbs to pressure of undesirable functioning of officer instead of standing against it. Therefore, the award of compensation for harassment by public authorities not only compensates the individual, satisfies him personally but helps in curing social evil. It may result in improving the work culture and help in changing the outlook.
In view of the above, we direct the Respondents to refund the amount 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. The Petition is disposed of accordingly. There shall be no order as to costs.
(Taken from monthly, April, 2006 `Advantage Consumer'. Rourkela)
AJudge looked severely at the defendant and asked, "How many times have you been impriosoned?"
"Nine, your Honour".
"Nine? In this case, I will give you the maximum sentence".
"Maximum sentence?" replied the defendant. "Don't you give your regular clients a discount?"
One day while out shopping, my aunt, my mother and I stopped for lunch. With nothing to do the rest of the afternoon, we decided to have a cocktail or two. After the third round, we were acting a bit giddy, giggling a lot and talking quite loudly. Suddenly the waiter made a beeline for our table.
"Ladies, all your drinks are on the house, and if you'd like another round, don't hesitate to ask", he told us.
"Thanks". I responded. "But why?"
The waiter drew closer, then said very softly. "The bartender forgot to put the alcohol in your first three rounds".
• • •
"The Ship's captain returned from a two-year voyage to find his wife nursing a month-old baby. "Who did this?" he demanded "was it my friend Mike?"
"No" his wife said softly.
"Well then was it my friend Bob?"
His wife shook her head.
"Bill", he demanded. "could it have been my friend Bill?"
"Your friends, your friends", his wife said impatiently, "all the time, your friends. Don't you think I have any friends of my own?"