The Hyderabad District Consumer Commission – I directed Telangana State Road Transport Corporation to Refund the amount paid by the complainant to acquire an alternate bus service along with compensation for mental agony caused and the cost of litigation. The bench comprising Justice B. Uma Venkata Subba Lakshmi as the president and Mrs. C. Lakshmi Prasanna and Mr. R Narayana Reddy as members was hearing a complaint alleging deficiency in service and unfair trade practices under Section 35 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 on the part of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (Opp. Party).
The opposite party provides inter state bus services. The complainant and his colleague books AC bus tickets of a bus service provided by the opposite party under the name of ‘Garuda Plus’. The complainant booked these services believing that the bus services would not be cancelled at the last minute. However, on the scheduled travel date, the complainant received a text from the opposite party that his scheduled bus to Chennai has been cancelled. However, no reason was provided for the same. Additionally, the complainant was also asked to make an application with ticket credentials on the website of the opposite party to be able to get his refund. The complainant also had to book an alternate bus service in sleeper class. It was also alleged by the complainant that the procedure followed by the opposite party to give the refund is nothing but an attempt to cash on the oversight of the consumers.
The opposite party submitted that due to some technical issue in the gear box, the bus had to immediately be sent to the manufacturing company for repairs. The bus was, as submitted, detained at the company for repairs beyond the period of departure. Resultantly, a message was sent to all consumers about the cancellation. They also submitted that an alternate bus could not be arranged due to unavailability and that there was no reason mentioned in the message of cancellation because that was the common practice followed by them.
The opposite party further submitted that the consumers who buy the tickets from the counter are supposed to give the ticket details thereon and get their refund. Similarly, the consumers who buy their tickets online, have the follow a similar procedure on the website.
The district forum emerged with the following questions for determination, on the basis on the facts and material available:
Whether the complainant could prove deficiency in service and unfair trade practice on the part of the opposite party?
Whether the complainant is entitled for the reliefs as claimed in the complaint?
If so, what relief?
While determining question-1, the district forum observed that there is no iota of evidence to show that the opposite party tried to provide the passengers with an alternate service after cancellation. The opposite party did not even submit any cogent evidence to show that there was a technical glitch in the gear box of the bus. The bench noted that the last minute purchase of ticket in another bus must have caused inconvenience to the complainant and the cancellation by the opposite party must have caused a lot of tension and mental agony apart from the monetary loss caused to him.
While determining question-2, the forum observed that the Opposite party cannot take shelter for deficiency in service on the pretext of a technical issue in the bus. The bench noted that the same is noting but deficiency in service on the part of the Opposite Party.
In the light of the aforementioned, the bench directed the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation to refund an amount of Rs.530/- which was paid in excess by the complainant for the services of an alternate bus. They were further directed to pay Rs.2000/- for mental agony caused and Rs.1000/- towards the cost of litigation.
Case: NARAYANDAS SANJAY V. TELANGANA STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION (TSRTC)