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Posted at: Oct 7, 2018, 2:08 AM; last updated: Oct 7, 2018, 2:08 AM (IST)CONSUMERS BEWARE!

Behave yourself for a happy customer

Consumer courts have said that rude behaviour towards passengers would not be tolerated
Behave yourself for a happy customer
File photo

Pushpa Girimaji

Can a passenger of a transport corporation file a complaint for compensation before the consumer court for the rude behaviour of the conductor and the driver? The inter-state bus in which I travelled recently, refused to halt at the scheduled bus stop. When I protested, I was abused and was dropped so far away from the stop that I had to take a three wheeler to reach home. I feel that I should not allow them to get away with this kind of behaviour.

I must assure you that the consumer courts have, in several cases, told service providers, particularly road transport companies, that rude and uncivilised behaviour towards customers would not be tolerated and would be construed as ‘deficient service’ and the victims are entitled to compensation. So please go ahead and file the case against the driver, the conductor and the corporation that runs the service.

In BL Sood VS Delhi Transport Corporation ( RP no 115 of 2006 , decided on November 28, 2007), for example, the apex consumer court came down heavily on the DTC and its checking staff for abusing and manhandling a passenger, particularly a senior citizen and awarded him compensation. In this case, soon after Mr Sood boarded the bus, a ticket checking party entered the bus and refused to accept his explanation that he did not have the ticket because he had just boarded.

Humiliated and angry, Mr Sood hauled up the DTC before the consumer court and forced them to pay compensation to him.

Have you come across a case similar to mine?

I can quote an almost identical case. In Brij Mohan Sharma, assistant DM, Rajasthan State Road Transport Company VS Jag Mohan Sharma, the passenger boarded a deluxe bus run by the Rajasthan State Road Transport Company at Kota. When he reached his destination at Tonk, the bus did not drop him at the bus stop. It stopped on the main road itself. It was raining hard and Mr Sharma had to take a rickshaw to reach home, spending Rs 15.

In response to his complaint, the RSRTC argued that the deluxe buses stopped on the main road for the convenience of passengers, as otherwise it took half an hour more for the bus to reach the bus stop in the city. The District forum, after hearing the case, directed the RSRTC to drop the passengers at the bus stand in the city. It also asked RSRTC to pay the complainant, Rs 15 that he had spent on the rickshaw.

The RSRTC then filed an appeal before the State Commission, which upheld the order of the District Forum and said that not dropping a passenger, who had a valid ticket up to the Tonk bus stand, constituted deficiency in service.

I must also mention here the case of Dr Ajit KR Mohanty vs District Transport Manager. This is slightly different from yours, but here too, the passenger was determined to teach the service provider a lesson for their negligent service. Dr Mohanty had booked a ticket to travel from Kansbahal to Bhubaneswar by Rourkela-Bhubaneswar non-stop bus run by the Orissa State Transport Corporation on January 4, 1990. At the time of booking, he was told that even though there is no scheduled stop at Kansbahal, it would pick up passengers who had booked early. So the ticket was issued for travel from Kansbahal, but the bus passed by without stopping. So much so the passenger was forced to take another bus and travel all the way to Bhubaneswar, standing. Worse, he reached his destination late, upsetting his work and personal schedule.

The State Commission directed the transport corporation to refund the cost of the ticket and pay Rs 1,000 as compensation. I must mention that the consumers did not ask for very high compensation in these cases. Besides, in the initial years, the consumer courts too were quite tight fisted when it came to computation of damages. Today, the law not only provides for compensation for financial loss, physical and mental suffering, but also punitive damages. Punitive or exemplary damages are awarded as a punishment for wrongdoing and are intended to deter the wrongdoer from indulging in similar behaviour.

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