According to reports by the Indian Express, the UT consumer forum has demanded a penalty of Rs. 30,000 from the IRCTC for serving a meal with dead insects to a passenger. The incident took place on board the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi Express on 9th June, 2016 when the complainant P P Singh was served the unhygienic meal.
Out of the fine amount, Rs. 10,000 will be given to Singh as a compensation for harassment and litigation. The remaining amount of Rs. 20,000 will go to the Institute for the Blind located at Sector 26 in Chandigarh. Plus, the forum has also demanded that the IRCTC refund the Rs.130 catering charges and Rs. 521 ticket charge of the complainant. This is however not the first time that the IRCTC is in trouble for their catering services.
The Meal Gone Wrong
The complained filed by Singh had mentioned that the meal itself was served in an unhealthy and unhygienic manner where the food was loosely packed and the gravy was spilling in the tray. He narrates the incident in his complaint, “After eating a few morsels of paratha with cheese gravy, I opened the lids of other food items, i.e. dal and rice, and was shocked to notice the presence of some dead insects and foreign matter in the same. I showed the same to the catering staff, who felt apologetic and removed the tray containing contaminated food items”.
Further, he did not want to take the replaced meal it was coming from the same batch. “As a result, I had to remain hungry during the journey despite having paid for the meal,” he added. He went on to say that since passengers were compulsorily take the meal on board the Shatabdi Express which included along with the ticket price, the forced meal has led to unfair trade practices. His complaint was thus filed under alleged deficiency in service and unfair trade practice by the Indian Railways and the IRCTC.
The Denial by IRCTC
The IRCTC on the other hand had denied all the allegations put forth by Singh and claiming that they had no control over the catering service as it was provided from Northern Railway post Catering Policy 2010. “The food was packed to its quality and quantity, and the allegation that during multiple handling and storage, liquid items like dal got spilled in the tray, the claim thereof is not correct and the food was served in a most hygienic and in a most presentable manner up to the standards,” claimed the respondents in their joint complaint. The respondents include the Divisional Railway Manager, Northern Railways, Ambala, Station Master, Railway Station, Chandigarh, and Deputy Train Superintendent Vimal Sharma.
The pleas by the IRCTC were however rejected by the forum that included the claim that the complainant did not click a photograph of the contaminated food. The IRCTC could not bring up any evidence that showed a response or action taken towards the complaint made by the passenger in the form of an SMS as well as in the complaint book.