An Indian man has won a lawsuit after a 22-year legal battle over two train tickets for which he paid 25 cents more in 1999, the BBC reports.
Tungnath Chaturvedi, a lawyer by profession, paid 20 rupees, or $0.25, more for two train tickets he bought in 1999. The incident occurred at Mathura railroad station in the northern Indian province of Uttar Pradesh Pradesh.
A consumer tribunal ruled in Chaturvedi’s favor last week and will order the railroad company to repay him the amount with interest. “I have made over 100 appointments in this case. The energy and time I have spent on this case is priceless,” the 66-year-old Chaturvedi said.
Consumer courts in India deal specifically with such issues related to defective services. However, the cases are numerous, and the courts are often overwhelmed by the large number – it can even take years to resolve such simple cases.
Chaturvedi, who lives in Uttar Pradesh, was on his way from Mathura to Moradabad when the cashier overcharged him for the two tickets he had bought: the tickets cost 35 rupees each, but when he handed the cashier a 100-rupee bill, the cashier returned only 10 rupees and charged him 90 rupees instead of 70. Although he pointed out to the cashier that he had not received the correct amount, he refused to give him the money back.
Chaturvedi then decided to file a lawsuit against the railroad operator, North East Railway Gorakhpur, and against the cashier. He says it took years to resolve this case because the Indian legal system is very slow and cumbersome.
“The railroad operator tried to dismiss the case on the grounds that such complaints should be decided by a railroad court, not a consumer tribunal,” he says. “However, we relied on a Supreme Court precedent from 2021, which says that this case can be decided by a consumer tribunal,” he added.
After 22 years of litigation, the judge delivered the verdict: Chaturvedi will receive 15,000 rupees (about $188) in compensation, and the 20 rupees will be refunded to him with 12% interest per year for all 22 years that have passed since the tickets were purchased.
The court also ruled that interest on the amount repaid will rise to 15% if the amounts are not paid within 30 days. Chaturvedi says this compensation is small and not enough for all the “mental anguish” this process has caused him. His family tried for years to stop him, but he persisted.
“It’s not about the money. It’s a fight for justice and a fight against corruption, so it was worth it. Besides, I am a lawyer, so I do not have to hire someone else and pay money for that, too. These things are pretty expensive,” he added.