In a case of one of its kind, a matric-pass unemployed youth moved the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission seeking Rs 87 crore in damages from Employment Exchange over alleged non-supply of information on unemployment allowance under the RTI Act and sought only to earn its wrath and reprimand for using the Consumer Protection Act as a tool to create “nuisance value” for himself in the government office.
A bench of Presiding Member Dr SM Kantikar and Member Dinesh Singh dismissed the review petition filed by a youth but stopped short of imposing a hefty cost on him considering that he was unemployed and undereducated and instead asked him to Pay Rs 100 in any registered charity of his choice.
The petitioner, in this case, had moved the District Forum saying that he applied for information on unemployment allowance from the concerned authority/official of Employment Exchange vide application dated December 26, 2012, under the RTI Act, 2005. He said he had also applied for the required information from the higher authorities of Employment Exchange in 2013 but no action was taken by the opposite parties.
He said he spent Rs 865 besides expenditure on purchase of postal orders and non-supply of information was a deficiency in service.
The Employment Exchange, on the other hand, submitted that the complainant was not a ‘consumer’ under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, as the Employment Exchange provided free services and that the complainant did not apply to any of the opposite parties for seeking information under the RTI Act.
It also said that the minimum qualification for unemployment allowance was 10+2, whereas the complainant was only matric pass and there was no deficiency in service of any kind (under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986).
The district forum dismissed the complaint due to lack of evidence of any RTI application having been received by the Employment Exchange.
An appeal and a revision petition met the same fate before the State Commission.
The complainant, however, moved the NCDRC by way of a review petition which held that both the forums had given clear findings and there was no error calling for a review.
“In his review petition, the complainant made various additional/digressive submissions even when the fundamental issue of fact on which his entire case was based had been found to be false. Furthermore, he asked for compensation of Rs. 87 crore from the Employment Exchange Department. He also stated that he had visited their offices 200-240 times. It is also relevant that along with the complainant in person, the District Employment Officer was also present in person at the time of arguments on the review petition, noted the Commission.
“It is clearly evident that the complainant is attempting to misuse the statutory processes provided for better protection of the interest of consumers to create for himself a ‘nuisance value’ in the Employment Exchange and its offices,” said the bench.
It referred to Section 26 of the Act which provides for a cost of maximum Rs 10,000 for frivolous complaints but stopped short of imposing the hefty fine.
“…having regard to the fact that the opposite parties are government officers/department and the complainant is an unemployed undereducated young person, recourse to the provision of cost provided for in Section 26 of the Act is not being adopted. It is but also to be seen that the time and resources of this Commission have been wasted in such manner and for such evident purpose. It is thus appropriate and albeit necessary to give stern advise of caution to the complainant through a token monetary deterrent (cost), to desist from misusing the statutory processes provided for a consumer for better protection of his interests under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. (This Act is not meant to be a tool to create ‘nuisance value’ in government offices),” it noted.
“In the totality of the case, it is felt just, apt and reasonable that Rs.100 may be deposited by the review petitioner – complainant with a registered charity of his choice and the original receipt thereof filed with the Registry of this Commission within four weeks,” ordered the apex consumer forum.
Read the Order Here