KSRTC ordered to pay back at least 60 times of what a conductor overcharged a 10-year-old

A Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission ordered the KSRTC to pay back the overcharged ₹50 with 9% interest as well as ₹3,000.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Jan 13, 2024 | 7:00 AMUpdatedJan 13, 2024 | 7:00 AM

File photo of KSRTC buses.

It’s a story of grit and determination of a 30-year-old woman — wife of an agriculturist in Bagalkot. Her resolve is costing the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) dear — 60 times what was due to her, to be exact.

Deepa Hiremath ensured that she got justice after a KSRTC bus conductor not only abused her but also threatened to deboard her and her 10-year-old son from the bus when she asked him why he was charging an adult’s fare for the boy.

Deepa, a resident of the Antapur village in the Mudhol taluk of Karnataka’s Bagalkot district, could study only until the seventh standard.

However, she has the determination of a well-educated person, her husband Hiremath proudly told the South First.

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The incident

On 1 July, 2023, Deepa and her 10-year-old son boarded a KSRTC bus — that was headed to Vijayapura, where Deepa’s parents lived — from the Mudhol bus stand.

While Deepa was purchasing tickets for Vijayapura, the bus conductor looked at her son and asked him which standard he was studying in. When the kid answered that he was studying sixth standard, the conductor said he had to be charged as an adult.

Deepa refused to pay an adult’s fare for her son and attempted to convince the conductor that her son was 10 years and eight months old according to his Aadhaar card, which she was carrying.

However, the conductor did not budge and demanded that Deepa buy two full adult tickets, or else he would not allow the mother-son duo to travel on the bus.

Deepa then called her husband Hiremath, handing over the phone to the conductor. He was apparently even ruder with Hiremath, with a string of verbal abuses.

Hiremath told the conductor that he would complain to the bus depot about his behaviour and also file a complaint with the consumer forum.

To this, the conductor replied that he could do whatever he wanted, and that he had seen enough courts and complaints.

Hiremath then asked the conductor to hand over the phone to his wife and asked her to pay the full ticket amount.

The full ticket for adults from Mudhol to Vijayapura was ₹95, while the half ticket — for children aged below 12 years — would cost only ₹45.

The entire argument unfolded inside the bus in front of other passengers, and Deepa and her son felt humiliated by the conductor’s behaviour. However, they continued their journey on the same bus and reached Vijayapura.

Also read: Consumer forum directs ITC to pay ₹1L for 1 less biscuit in pack

The aftermath

At the Vijayapura bus stand, Deepa tried to complain about the conductor to the depot manager, but in vain.

However, there was no name badge on the conductor’s uniform, so Deepa could not get his name. However, she did not want to let him go scot-free.

When she and her son finished their stay at her mother’s house in Vijayapura and returned to Bagalkote, she filed a petition with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 28 August against the conductor’s unruly behaviour.

“It’s not about the money, it was about dignity and honour of an individual,” Hiremath told South First.

Hiremath’s advocate Veeranna Naik filed the petition and attempted a mutual and an out-of-court settlement with the KSRTC bus conductor as the matter was trivial.

“We got in touch with the bus conductor’s KSRTC depot, spoke to his manager, and also asked him (the conductor) to tender an apology for his unruly behaviour inside the bus for insulting my client in front of all the other passengers,” Naik told South First.

“However, the conductor doesn’t seem to care. So, we had no option other than to pursue the case,” he noted.

The Bagalkot District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission heard the case and ordered an inquiry into the allegations against the conductor. It eventually determined that the bus conductor had erred.

The commission, on 9 January, ordered the KSRTC to pay back ₹50 to Deepa Hiremath — with a rate of interest at 9 percent from the date of purchase of the ticket (1 July, 2023) — along with a ₹2,000 compensation for causing mental agony and ₹1,000 as the cost of litigation.

“My client is thankful to the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and she is content with the order, especially with the matter being disposed of in less than five months,” Naik said.