Passenger entitled to expect vehicle in good condition: forum

CHENNAI, MARCH 11. A bus passenger is entitled to expect the vehicle to be maintained in order and fit for travelling. When it is not so, he can approach the consumer forum, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has said.

Disposing of a complaint filed by a passenger who sustained fracture due to poor maintenance, the Commission directed the Metropolitan Transport Corporation to pay a compensation of Rs.50,000 and Rs.1,000 as costs to him. It also ordered the General Hospital and two doctors, Subbiah and Soundara Rajan to pay the victim Rs.1 lakh with costs of Rs.1,000.

Syed Hussain of Senthil Nagar, Chinna Porur, a tailor in the Ordnance Clothing Factory complained to the Commission that he was badly hurt when he was travelling by a bus from Valasaravakkam to Parrys in October 1997.

The MTC took him for treatment to the General Hospital where the doctors attended on him. They did not treat him properly, though he sustained a fracture. On account of deficiency by the MTC and doctors he was not able to carry on his profession and earn as before. He cited the Chairman and Managing Director of MTC, Dean of GH and the doctors as opposite parties.

``An act of God''

The MTC submitted that the rear spring plate of the bus broke loose, pierced through the bus floor and the complainant who was sitting above the rear wheel was injured. The crew took all the injured passengers to the nearby hospital. ``Thus it was an act of God.'' It was not due to improper maintenance.

The hospital and the doctors did not contest the matter. They were absent and set ex-parte.

In the order, the Commission Bench comprising the president, Justice A. Raman and Member, R. Vanaroja, said records showed that the victim suffered fracture of the foot. The Bench dismissed the MTC's contention that the vehicle was in good condition and had the necessary fitness certificate and therefore ``what happened was an act of God.'' ``The vehicle which is said to have been in good condition was sold as a condemned vehicle one year later as evidenced by their own document.'' If a spring plate got cut when the vehicle was running, it would indicate there was no proper maintenance.

``No care has been taken to maintain the vehicle and check it before putting it on road.''

The Bench held there was deficiency in service by the GH and the doctors, as they did not advise the complainant properly.

``We do not know what happened to those X-rays taken, whether they were seen by the doctors? Whether the doctors advised him to come for further treatment or what the further diagnosis the doctors made?''