Man gets $0.25 refund from railroad after decades-long legal battle

  • An Indian lawyer was overcharged 20 rupees ($0.25) for two train tickets he bought in 1999.
  • He sued the railroad and ticket clerk. The legal battle lasted 22 years.
  • Last week, according to BBC News, the railways were finally ordered to reimburse him and pay a fine of 15,000 rupees ($188).

Tungnath Chaturvedi, an Indian lawyer, was overcharged 20 rupees ($0.25) for two train tickets he bought in 1999.

Last week, after a 22-year court battle with the North Eastern Railway (a division of Indian Railways), Chaturvedi was finally told he would get his money back.

“I attended over 100 hearings in relation to this case,” Chaturvedi, 66, said. BBC News. “But you can’t put a price on the energy and time I wasted fighting this case.”

In 1999, Chaturvedi visited a ticket seller to buy two train tickets from Mathura to Moradabad – both in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The tickets cost 35 rupees each ($0.44), but when he gave 100 rupees ($1.26) to the clerk, Chaturvedi only received 10 rupees ($0.13) in change.

BBC News reported that Chaturvedi told the clerk he had been overcharged by 20 rupees ($0.25), but was denied a refund. Short-changed and angry, he decided to sue the railways and the clerk in an Indian consumer court.

The legal battle dragged on in part because the railroads attempted to move the case from consumer court to railroad court. “But we used a Supreme Court decision from 2021 to prove the case could be heard in consumer court,” Chaturvedi told BBC News.

He added that the delays also resulted from the judges being on vacation or other types of leave.

Chaturvedi made more than 100 court appearances between 1999 and 2022, and his family have repeatedly urged him to give it up, describing the decades-long fight as a waste of time, according to BBC News.

But nevertheless, he persisted. “It’s not the money that matters. It was always a fight for justice and a fight against corruption,” Chaturvedi told BBC News.

After the epic legal battle, the railways were last week ordered to reimburse Chaturvedi. He will receive 20 rupees at 12% interest per annum. If the money is not disbursed within 30 days, the interest rate will increase to 15% per annum, according to the Indian newspaper The footprint.

The railways must also pay him a fine of 15,000 rupees ($188), The Print said.

Chaturvedi told BBC News he hoped the case would inspire others not to give up “when the fight looks tough”.

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