IN a rare yet outstanding case of compensation to a consumer, the Ministry of Railways has been directed to pay Rs. 10,000 by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum as compensation for mental harassment to a passenger.

The passenger had filed a complaint after she found an insect in her packed meal received while travelling on the train. Moreover, the railways have also been directed to refund Rs. 270 the passenger paid for the meal along with 18% interest from the date of the incident till now.

The complainant Shalini Jain informed that she along with her 2 kids were travelling from Chandigarh to New Delhi on July 3, 2016, by Kalka Shatabdi Express. And as declared in the ticket, the total fare of the journey was Rs. 1,861 each including Rs. 270 as catering charges for vegetarian meals for the passengers.

The passenger further added that they were served breakfast during the journey in packs with green stickers on it specifying the vegetarian logo on it. However, when the complainant took the first bite from her meal, she was shocked to witness that a living insect was moving inside the food.

The complainant, therefore, immediately brought the incident to the notice of the catering staff but they were not swift in their reply. Eventually, the complainant returned all the food items, including that of the kids. Moreover, it was also stated that later the staff offered them other meal, but the complainant refused.

In addition to that when the complainant demanded to register a complaint in the complaint register she was denied the same. And even after the complainant sent a complaint to the Railway Minister on October 12, 2016, but never received a reply.

Also, no one from the Railway Ministry appeared to represent in the case. The forum observed that in the new Catering Policy, 2010 all Railway Zones have already been directed to give priority to provide good quality food, packaged drinking water as well as sanitary facilities and assure cleanliness in trains and stations. “However, it is regretted to note that despite detailed directions mentioned in the amended Catering Policy, 2010, notified by Commercial Circular by the Government of India, no proper steps have been taken by most of the railway zones to improve the quality of food to the passengers travelling on the train.”

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