Misusing of the rule to harass common person - Railways
I had my tickets booked for T.No. 2952 Rajdhani, from New Delhi to Mumbai Central, Seat no 13&15, coach A1, date 16th June 2008. I had joint E- ticket with my husband as master passenger...Just 15 mins before the depature the diversion in the route was announced and expected 8 hrs delay in arrival was expressed which was more than usual in these (gujjar agitation) circumstances also. My husband panicked as this meant he can’t even attend second half of the office. So he got down to enquire from TT regarding the conditions and process of cancellation. TTE ‘Vijay Kannan’ told him it can be done through internet only and that the refund would not exceed 50% of the total amount (which we have now checked on the internet at ‘IRCTC` site was factually wrong). He further added that contrary to the announcement being made of an 8 hr delay the train is likely to be much more late and will probably reach Mumbai not before 1930 Hrs. This information was not encouraging.
My husband came back to the cabin and we discussed that cancellation was not possible because of non availability of internet at the station. I decided to continue with my journey and my husband decided to travel by air, so that he could attend office. I went upto the door of the bogey to send off my husband.
However, on my return to my seat, after seeing off my husband, I found a lady and girl occupying our seats. I was really surprised to see this, as we had not cancelled the tickets. Both ladies on enquiring, told that they had been given those two seats and they were related to one of the TTs.
After the departure of the train TT came, after about 45mins, to our cabin to check the tickets and told me that my tickets were cancelled by my husband and therefore allotted to another passenger. He also showed me the seat numbers written on the palm of the hand as a proof to the conversation. When I refuted this claim he asked me to show the PAN ID which I told him was with my husband who had left the train in a hurry. He told me that he would talk to me later.
Then after 1 hour he sent an attendant and called me at the back of the cabin. He said your husband had asked for the cancellation and he has given the seats to RAC. I said this was impossible. Then he told me that I’m not having PAN ID of master passenger in which case my ticket in invalid and I cannot travel on the train. (this after paying full amount for the tickets, what a rule!!). I told him that you met my husband and know I’m a genuine passenger and that these were unusual circumstances where a passenger is not availing services even after paying for them. I also suggested other identity solutions like my own Pan Card & Passport. Finally, I advised the TT that even the Master passenger’s Pan Card could be shown as proof on arrival. He sent me back. I thought matter was over as I have agreed to their terms and conditions and returned to my seat. By this time I was completely tired and mentally exhausted - I had to travel alone without my husband, I had traveled overnight the previous day, this train was delayed by 7-8 hrs and to add to this instead of showing consideration the TTE was trying to harass me. But my harassment had just begun!!
After 2 hrs he again sent an attendant to call me at the back of the cabin. This time there were two TTs and both were telling me that my ticket was invalid and the consequences of traveling without ticket. Their tone was intimidating. They kept on talking and discussing the matter. which I told them I can’t help in these unplanned and unforeseen circumstances .They charge me a fine of Rs. 3, 950 which I never denied and agreed to pay. Since I was not carrying that much cash I was made to give them in writing that I’ll pay this much amount at Mumbai central. I did this without showing any kind of resistance. Through out this ordeal I kept telling myself “I am a law abiding citizen, I have bought my ticket legally and paid for it…I can prove my identity...so what have I to fear”.. I gathered the courage to tell them that they have harassed me as they wanted to accommodate those two ladies which both of them denied hastily.
Kindly note that throughout this ordeal, the train was fast traveling, away from Delhi (where my husband was) and it was already dark and drizzling. May I ask these law implementers what did they expect a lady to do midway, in a fast traveling train at night? Are all passengers who do not carry the ID on the train to be treated as thieves? What would they have done if the master passenger had been robbed of the purse which carried his ID? What if master passenger was not able to board the train as so many passengers miss their train? Is there no provision to protect the other passengers who under unforeseen circumstances have to travel without the master passenger? Only provision is to throw them out of the train, take advantage of their helplessness, or just harass them!!! Please note Airlines seek similar photo proofs but they check them before boarding and the ID sought is of the individual boarding. It is interesting to note that even the ticket and internet terms & conditions do not specify the consequences of not carrying the proof!!
By now it was clear to them that I was not going to break the law or grease their palms. I came back on my seat and after 1-2 hrs i.e. after eating their dinner both ladies were shifted to other cabin and seat was given to a person who had 1st no. in RAC ( imagine 1st RAC passenger, Mr.Munim Singh, was given seat after 6-7 hrs from the start of train).
Next day in the afternoon TT came to me that he will approach me 10 min before Mumbai central which he never did even though I waited for him in the bogey even after the train stopped. Just before getting down I looked for him. He was standing on the platform waiting for me with the cops. He called the police, which he claimed had been informed in advance. If calling cops was routine procedure then they should have informed me beforehand. I was shaken and completely broke down to see how a well educated citizen was being treated as a criminal. I cannot explain the mental trauma I underwent. Good for me, my husband was also at the platform waiting with PAN card and money. I don’t know how I would have handled it alone. So much for an honest citizen who paid for the ticket, was willing to prove her identity!!
We were asked to pay Rs.3, 950. Our request to meet a senior official was declined with the rhetoric and I quote “I am the boss at this point of time”. A receipt was cut for and the amount of Rs.3, 950 was collected from us. Our request to add a line that the passenger was willing to show ID on arrival and master passenger was also present at the time the receipt was cut at Mumbai Central was promptly declined. The receipt carries only TTs version.
I want to ask a few things:
1. What was my crime that I was so much harassed?
2. These were unusual, unplanned circumstances, where an honest citizen traveling with proper Passport and ID was harassed so much for one rule!!. Inspite of carrying a proper Electronic Reservation slip ticket which is most mandatory as written on the ticket.
3. Are TT only robots, can’t they see the circumstances and use their judgment and if there was any such thing he should have called train superintendent. I don’t think so that TT had authority to put my ticket as invalid as no clear written rules are there regarding the consequences of not having PAN ID and ERS slip was in my possession. After all I was traveling with the ticket and my husband had to get down and TT met him on the station.
4. How come TT had cancelled my ticket beforehand and had allotted to other two people who traveled on those seats till dinner time before checking the tickets.
5. How come 1st RAC was confirmed after 6-7 hrs of the start of train when other waiting lists tickets were already cleared?
6. Why such a rule is being followed so blindly when no body else is claiming my ticket and my husband after boarding the train had to leave because of delay which everybody knew.
7. Why TT always called me at the back of the cabin, used to send an attendant to call me and never talked to me at my seat. Is this the way a respected lady who is traveling alone to be treated.
8. Why TT never approached me after that and straight away called cops on the platform.
9. Why TT has not informed me beforehand that he had to call cops on platform as a routine procedure (is this is a routine procedure, I doubt!) .They could have at least saved an educated person who understands and is fully cooperating with them from the mental trauma.
10. Why the TT was continuously grinning, mockingly, when I was lodging the complaint. Was he satisfied and happy to see his mission harassing a law abiding citizen accomplished.
11. If TT knew the laws so well why he did not inform my husband that the E- ticket can be cancelled only before the chart preparation not after that as per the rules on the internet site. And why he kept on insisting that my husband had told him to cancel the tickets when this is not possible by any law/rules.
12. If he initially considered our tickets as cancelled just on the note that my husband asked him to do so, he could have also considered my ticket as partially cancelled and declared me as the next ‘master passenger’ as per T & C 4.4 mentioned on the website. I was carrying my valid identity proof for myself. He should have consulted the train superintendent or other senior authority to help me which I believe would have been under the rules.
I had always believed that rules were made for people convenience but on this instance they were misused to harass the traveler. I’m a law abiding citizen who was traveling with proper tickets and looking at the circumstances system should have helped me instead of harassing me like this.