Why have sleeper bogies in day trains: Consumer asks NCDRC

The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) dismissed the complaint against the Southern Railway, saying the queer poser is linked to the policy matter and beyond its adjudication power.

"The issue, in fact, pertains to policy matter in respect of which no consumer complaint can be entertained," a bench of Justice R K Bhatta and member Vinay Kumar said while dismissing the complaint.

"In view of this, no cause of action is found to exist which can justify proceedings under the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The consumer complaint is consequently dismissed," it added.

The complaint had been lodged against the Southern Railway and the Railway Board by Tamil Nadu-based voluntary organisation Consumer Protection Council, which said it has approached the NCDRC on behalf of "innumerable unidentifiable passengers" under the Consumer Protection Act against the railways' deficient service to them and unfair trade practice.

The complaint pertained to Cholan Express, running between Tiruchirappalli and Chennai. The complainant pointed out that despite the train exclusively running between 8.20 am and 5.45 pm, it has air conditioned and sleeper category bogies, besides those of general second class.

The complainant argued that for journey during the day by the second class, a passenger should be paying Rs 22 only while he was being made to pay between Rs 120 to 184 for travelling in the sleeper class.

Making its own calculation of the revenue generated by railways on account of running the train with sleeper class bogies for 220 days from April 26 and December 1, 2010 on assumption of 50 per cent seat occupancy, the complainant told the commission that railways pocketed an excess fare of Rs 1.35 crore.

Terming the sum generated by railways through running of Cholan Express as "an unjust enrichment of the Railways", the complaint sought the NCDRC's directions to railway authorities to stop charging sleeper class fare.

It also asked for directions to the Railways to deposit Rs 1.35 crore in the Centre's consumer welfare fund besides paying a punitive damage of Rs 20 lakh to the consumer welfare fund and Rs 75,000 as costs.

The NCDRC, however, dismissed the complainant while also noting the railway authorities have also assured the complainant separately that they will review the issue of having sleeper bogies in the trains running exclusively during the day.

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