An Indian man’s 22-year court battle against Indian Railways regarding railway tickets he was overcharged for finally ended in his victory.
In 1999, lawyer Tungnath Chaturvedi was charged an extra 20 rupees (approximately $0.25) for the two train tickets he purchased at Mathura cantonment railway station.
Chaturvedi, who was traveling to Moradabad, bought two tickets priced at 35 rupees (approximately $0.44) each. He handed the ticket-booking clerk 100 rupees (approximately $1.26) but only received 10 rupees (approximately $0.13) in change.
Although he explained to the clerk that he should only be charged 70 rupees (approximately $0.88) instead of 90 (approximately $1.13), he failed to get a refund at the time.
That’s when he decided to file a case against the clerk and the North East Railway in consumer court, a special judicial body that specifically deals with service-related grievances.
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“I have attended more than 100 hearings in connection with this case,” Chaturvedi, 66, was quoted as saying. “But you can’t put a price on the energy and time I’ve lost fighting this case.”
Cases filed in consumer courts are known to take years to be resolved due to their sheer overabundance. Chaturvedi attributes the late resolution of his case to India’s slow judiciary system.
Chaturvedi revealed that his case was almost dismissed as it was argued that complaints against the railways should be addressed to a railway tribunal, which usually handles claims related to train travel.
“But we used a 2021 Supreme Court ruling to prove that the matter could be heard in a consumer court,” Chaturvedi added.
The court eventually ordered the railways to pay him a fine of 15,000 rupees (approximately $188) on top of the refund, amounting to 20 rupees at 12 percent interest per year from 1999 to 2022.
Should the railways fail to pay the amount in 30 days, the interest rate will be increased to 15 percent.
Chaturvedi said the compensation was too little compared to the mental anguish he endured from the case, which his family called a “waste of time.”
According to Chaturvedi, his case should serve as an inspiration to others not to give up “even when the fight looks tough.”