Man wins 22-year-old court fight over ticket

After nearly 22 years, an Indian man has emerged victorious in a lawsuit over an overpriced train ticket. During a trip, lawyer Tungnath Chaturvedi, 66, was charged an extra 20 rupees for two tickets purchased in 1999. The incident took place at Mathura railway station in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. .

Last week, a consumer court ruled in Chaturvedi’s favor and asked North East Railway, the company that runs the railway, to return the amount with interest.

“I have participated in more than 100 hearings related to this case,” Chaturvedi said in an interview with the BBC. “But, it’s not possible to put a price on the energy and time I spent fighting this process.”

Consumer courts in India specifically deal with service-related complaints. But they are known to be overloaded with cases and it can sometimes take years for simple cases to be resolved.

A resident of Uttar Pradesh, the lawyer was traveling from Mathura to Moradabad when a ticket clerk overcharged him for the two tickets he had purchased.

Tickets cost 35 rupees (R$2.26) each, but when he gave 100 rupees, the clerk returned 10 rupees (R$0.65), charging 90 rupees (R$5.81) for the tickets instead of 70 (R$ 4.52).

Chaturvedi told the employee he had overcharged him, but he did not receive any refunds at the time. So he decided to file a case against the North East Railway and the clerk in a consumer court in Mathura.

However, he took years to be compensated, due to the slowness in the functioning of the judiciary in India.

“The companies that run the railroads also tried to close the case, saying that complaints against them should be directed to a railroad court rather than a consumer court,” Chaturvedi said.

A rail complaints court is a judicial body created to handle complaints related to train travel in India.

“But I appealed a 2021 Supreme Court decision to prove that the matter could be heard in a consumer court,” Chaturvedi said. “Other times, hearings were adjourned because the judges were on vacation or condolence leave.”

After a long wait, the judgment ordered the North East Railway to pay Chaturvedi a fine of 15,000 rupees. The court also ordered the company to repay him 20 rupees with interest of 12% per annum from 1999 to 2022. The court ordered that if the amount was not paid within 30 days, the interest rate would rise to 15%. .

Chaturvedi said the compensation he received was negligible and did not compensate for the mental anguish the case caused him. His family tried several times to dissuade him from pursuing the case, calling it a waste of time, but he continued.

“It’s not the money that matters. It’s always been a fight for justice and a fight against corruption, so it was worth it,” he said. “Also, since I’m a lawyer, I didn’t have to pay another lawyer or incur the cost of traveling to court. That would be too expensive.”

For Chaturvedi, his case serves as an inspiration to others that “you don’t have to give up, even when the fight seems hard”.

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