Thursday, Jun 12, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
Mr. Sharma sent a money order for Rs. 1,000 to Goa. He was charged a commission of Rs. 50 to deliver the order. However, the money order was not delivered even two months after it was sent. Angry at their attitude, he took the Postal Department to court.
A District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (New Delhi) held the Postal Department guilty of deficiency in service as they delayed remitting the amount to Mr. Sharma. The Postal Department was further directed to pay Rs. 500 as compensation.
In its defence, the Postal Department stated that the money order in question was sent to the address, but it was returned with the remark ''addressee left without address''. Therefore, the money was paid back to Mr. Sharma and the suit is not maintainable. It also submitted that they are exempt from liability of loss, misdelivery, delay or damage in terms of Section 6 and 48 of the Indian Post Office Act, 1898.
In a rejoinder filed Mr. Sharma confirmed that he had been delivered the money, but contended that Section 6 and 48 of the Act, does not provide blanket protection against liability. It is also up to them to prove that no officer of their department was responsible for the late delivery. He also stated that he was only refunded the money after he went to court, even though he had been corresponding with the Postal Department for a while.
After going through all the evidence, the bench of the consumer court, stated that Postal Department has provided no explanation as to why it took them two months to return the money to Mr. Sharma.
Even though Section 6 and 43 of the Indian Post Office Act, 1893 provides exemption to the officers of the department from liability of loss, misdelivery, delay or damage, but this exemption is not absolute, the bench said.
A delay of two months by itself is evidence of negligence for which the Department has no explanation and therefore, it will amount to deficiency in service and will be held liable for the same, the bench ruled. The Department was asked to pay Rs. 500 as compensation.
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