Consumer Act in bizarre Railways case

A man's plea for compensation for death of his minor son, run over by a train in 1983, has been dismissed by Delhi Consumer Commission because the mishap had occurred before enactment of the Consumer Protection Act.

The Delhi State Consumer Commission presided by Justice Barkat Ali Zaidi rejected the plea of complainant, a former inspector of the Railway Protection Force, saying the Act does not provide for adjudicating events, which took place before its enactment.

"Despite the case having travelled different forums, it is a little surprising, that it was not seen that the incident relates to the year 1983, while the Consumer Protection Act came into force on December 24, 1986.

"The Consumer Protection Act will not, therefore, be applicable since there is no provision in the Act for retrospective operation. The appeal is liable to be dismissed on this ground alone," the bench also comprising its Member Salma Noor said.

Complainant V K Chaturvedi, resident of Vasundhara in Uttar Pradesh, had sought a compensation of Rs 20 lakh from the Northern Railways saying the incident had taken place in 1983 when he was living in the staff quarters in Railway Colony near Sadar Bazar railway station here.

He submitted that on September 12, 1983, his 10-year-old son was playing in front of his house and had gone to take his ball from the nearby railway track when a train ran over him.

The complainant alleged the incident occurred due to the negligence of the railways as it had not put any barrier or wall between the quarters and the railway tracks.

The respondents, divisional superintendent (Estate), DRM office and senior security commissioner of RPF had denied any negligence on the part of Railways saying a 'purdah' wall had existed between the colony and the railway track.

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