Found guilty of deficiency in service
Bedbugs in a train left Southern Railway red in the face with the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission finding it guilty of “deficiency in service.”

Though Railways “totally denied” the presence of any bugs in its beddings or sleeping berths, a Bench of the State commission president P.Q. Barkath Ali found “no merit” in Railway’s denial of liability.
The order was on the basis of a complaint filed by an elderly couple, Aishath Suhara and V.K. Abdulla, who boarded the Malabar Express on January 27, 2011, from Kottayam to their native Kasaragod district.
They were travelling by an AC three-tier coach. In the complaint filed by Mr. Abdulla on behalf of his wife, he said the beddings supplied were infested with bugs. The couple were forced to break their journey at Thalassery, where Suhara had to be hospitalised after she suffered “serious health problems” and could not sleep in the train owing to the bugs. Mr. Abdulla complained that he had lodged a complaint with the Thalassery station master.
The couple fought the case in the Kasaragod District Consumer Forum, which ordered Railways on June 29, 2012, to pay Rs.10,000 as compensation.
However, Railways came in appeal before the State commission.
Dismissal sought
Railways sought the June 29 order to be dismissed as the consumer court had no jurisdiction over it. “The coach in which the complainant (Mr. Abdulla) was travelling was inspected by the competent authority, and he found no bedbugs in beddings or on sleeping berths,” Railways said.
Railways argued as to why no complaint was lodged with the ticket inspector on the train at the time. The commission threw out Railways’ contention of maintainability, saying that as the Consumer Protection Act, “consumer fora are competent to entertain claims covered under any relevant section of the Railway Act/Railway Claims Tribunal Act.”
The commission pointed out that a complaint was lodged by the couple within 15 minutes of the train reaching Thalassery. “The complaint cannot be considered an afterthought. Merely because other passengers did not complain does not mean that the case of Mr. Abdulla is false. I am inclined to hold that the lower forum is perfectly justified in finding that there was deficiency in service on the part of the appellant (Southern Railway),” Mr. Ali wrote in the judgment, directing Railways to pay the couple Rs.3,000 towards the cost of litigation.

  • Beddings supplied were infested with bugs: petitioners
  • Railways told to pay Rs.3,000 towards litigation cost