Nagpur: A Bhandara court has penalized a retired railway clerk from Tumsar by ordering him to pay Rs1 lakh to the passenger for defaming him.
Durgadas Manikpuri, a former senior booking clerk with Bilaspur-based South Eastern Central Railway (SECR), was directed to pay the damages to complainant Vinod Maheshwari, an architect from Tumsar, within two months.

Civil judge senior division Pritam Naigaonkar also asked the retired clerk to pay entire cost of case proceedings of complainant. He told the SECR manager to expunge “derogatory” remarks made by Manikpuri on suggestions-cum-complaint book, maintained by it. The manager was further directed to recover Rs1 lakh from clerk’s salary, if he failed to comply with court’s orders.

The incident dates back to December 2, 2014, when Maheshwari was standing in a queue for ticket reservation at the Tumsar railway station when suddenly, enquiry clerk Awadhesh Kumar Prasad entered the booth, took the keyboard from the reservation counter and fed some data. He then took out a ticket from the printer and moved out.

When Maheshwari realized that Prasad took out printout out of monthly season ticket of some passenger, he lodged a complaint with deputy station master the same day, exposing unethical practices adopted by Prasad, by interrupting the reservation work.

On January 1, 2015, Maheshwari came to know that while forwarding his complaint to senior divisional commercial manager in Nagpur, Manikpuri made a written remark that the former has a habit of lodging complaints. He also started making adverse remarks about Maheshwari in public to save his colleague Prasad.

After Maheshwari protested, the SECR initiated an enquiry where Manikpuri admitted that he himself had asked Prasad to issue ticket from inside the booth, clarifying that it was allowed during peak hours. However, no action was taken by the SECR against Manikpuri, despite being served with the notice. Subsequently, the complainant filed a civil suit through counsel BJ Sheikh against SECR and Manikpuri for damages on account of defamation.

He contended that the remarks made against him had lowered his reputation in the eyes of public and caused damage to his decent image. He also claimed that the SECR tried to cover up the Manikpuri’s unethical practices and is liable to pay damages.

While agreeing with Maheshwari’s arguments, the court noted that derogatory comments and their propagation by former clerk had lowered his esteem in the eyes of travelling fraternity and Tumsar citizens. The court pointed out that the plaintiff is a highly educated citizen and that all complaints previously made by him in the past have raised larger public issues, and the remarks made against him have been an injury to his person.

(With inputs from Ritika Gupta)

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