Post Office Speed Post Service: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) reprimanded the postal department for needlessly wasting public money by filing "patently misconceived and devoid of merit" revision petition against the orders of District and State Commissions in the top forum. Both the lower fora had found the postal department guilty of trying to shield its officials, instead of solving grievance of a customer who had suffered loss while sending important medicines through speed post.
The customer had sent important medicines worth Rs.29,042 through speed post dated 4.6.2015 from Chandigarh to Imphal, but, the said parcel reached in a tampered condition. The parcel was subsequently returned to Chandigarh post office and returned to the customer in a tampered condition.
Before the District Forum, the customer had contended that safe delivery of the parcel was the responsibility of the post office. The post office claimed that the contents and value of the postal articles were not disclosed by the complainant and the complainant sent the alleged valuables by violating the speed post rules. Further, it argued that the Central Government or its Postal Officers are exempted from any liability for loss, misdelivery of delay or damage to any postal article in course of transmission by post as per Section 6 of the Indian Post Office Act, 1898.
However, after going through the facts of the case, the District Forum noted, "We are of the opinion that even if the contents of the parcel were not disclosed by the complainant, it was open for the OP (post office) to insist the complainant to disclose the same. However, in the present case, no such effort was made by the OP."
"Further, there is a duty cast upon the postal authorities to deliver the consignment to the consignee in its original form without causing any damage to it having accepted the same after collecting the requisite charges."
The District Forum said the post office was "shielding its officials by not initiating any enquiry in the matter and there was a willful act or default on the part of the OP"
In its final order, the District Forum directed the postal department to pay Rs.29,042 to the complainant towards the value of the goods sent through speed post; Rs.10,000 as compensation for mental agony and harassment caused to the complainant; and Rs10,000 as costs of litigation.
The Post Office challenged the order in State Commission, which dismissed the appeal while reminding it to stop being irresponsible. "In the modern computerized world, the Postal Authorities are supposed to act with precision and efficiency. Only then, the Post Office will survive. Otherwise, there are many other Agencies, in the same field that too with sufficient expertise and accuracy. In view of above, no ground, whatsoever, has been made out by the appellant, to make interference in the order under challenge," the State Commission said.
What NCDRC said
The National Commission noted that Postal department was needlessly wasting public money by appealing against the orders of the Lower Fora. "The Postal Department, after its deficiency in service, agitated, unsuccessfully, in one, two, and now three, Consumer Protection Fora, needlessly wasting public time and monies."
The NCDRC ordered on January 10, "…the Revision Petition, being patently misconceived and totally devoid of merit, is dismissed, with advice to inculcate systemic improvements and imbibe responsibility and accountability, and with Cost of Rs. 1 lakh to be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account of the District Forum by the Postal Department within four weeks of the pronouncement of this Order."