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Post office to pay damages for deficiency in service

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 19. Davender Kumar Dhiranja never really stood a chance for the job he had applied for as "helper" to the managing director of Sehakri Vidhyanevam Sheetgrah Sangh. While he sent his carefully drafted application through registered post, the letter never reached the address it was marked for and was sent back to him two months later. And though eligible for the post, he was rejected from the start.

Determined to get justice, he knocked on the doors of consumer court for help. After a year-long legal battle, a bench of the district consumer disputes redressal forum (New Delhi) held the Post Office guilty of deficiency in service and directed it to pay Rs.1,000 as costs and damages.

In his case before the bench, Mr. Dhiranja submitted that he had booked the letter on August 19, 2002, from the Post Office at Udyog Bhawan and had paid an amount of Rs. 27 as postal charges. However, he was shocked to find that the letter was sent back to him on November 1, 2002. Despite repeated complaints and visits to the post-office, he did not get a reply for them and was forced to go to court.

For his part the Post Master argued that Mr. Dhiranja had no "locus-standi" to file the compliant as there was no consumer dispute. He further submitted that since they are protected under the Section 6 of the Indian Post Office Act and were not liable for any deficiency in service. A notice had been sent to the Lucknow Post Office asking for reasons as to why the letter remained in transit for two months and had been returned to the sender, but there has no reply so far, he stated. Any deficiency of service if any had been committed on the part of the Lucknow Post Office, he alleged.

After going through evidence, a bench of the consumer disputes redressal forum stated that the Post Master had not denied the booking of the letter and the delivery to Mr. Dhiranja after two months but tried to pass the buck on the Post Office, Lucknow. He had also tried to take advantage of Section 6 of the Indian Post Office Act, the bench observed.

However, he has not denied Mr. Dhiranja's contention that the Post Office had been negligent for not delivering the letter, the bench observed.

The submission that the amount charged is not for the service, but to augment government revenue is a "funny one" and not tenable, the bench stated. The amount charged for rendering various services by the Post Office are not for augmenting government revenue, but a charge for services rendered and not a fee or a cess charged under the provisions of the Act and therefore, and not delivering the letter amounts to deficiency in service, the bench held.

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