22 Sep 2023 10:42 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court has directed the Chief Postmaster General to release sum of Rs 50,000 including a bonus of Rs 5,000 along with interest of 6% p.a. from the date of maturity of the petitioner’s Monthly-Investment-Scheme (“MIS”) account at the Bhadrakali Post Office.A single-bench of Justice Shekhar B Saraf held:The petitioner states she is being deprived of her savings due to...
The Calcutta High Court has directed the Chief Postmaster General to release sum of Rs 50,000 including a bonus of Rs 5,000 along with interest of 6% p.a. from the date of maturity of the petitioner’s Monthly-Investment-Scheme (“MIS”) account at the Bhadrakali Post Office.
A single-bench of Justice Shekhar B Saraf held:
The petitioner states she is being deprived of her savings due to the arbitrary and negligent actions of the respondents. [Respondents] contend there was a procedural lapse on behalf of the concerned Postal Assistant, and he was punished accordingly. It is established that the respondents were aware of the gravity of such acts from a reading of SB Order No. 3/2008 dated February 19, 2008. Thus, the respondent cannot argue that the action of the concerned Postal Assistant was a mere procedural lapse. As observed in Sulekha Chatterjee v. Union of India and Others (2023), the Post Office serves as a guardian of savings and operates on the trust of the citizens of this country that has been built over decades. However, such acts tarnish this trust and utmost effort must be made to redress the wrong done
These observations came in a plea by the petitioner who alleged that she had opened an MIS account at the Bhadrakali Post Office in 2002, and that her subsequent attempts to withdraw the matured amount, including bonus were being ignored by the postal authorities.
Petitioner argued that her MIS account had matured in April 2008, and thereafter she had signed a withdrawal slip and given it to her authorised agent, who unfortunately passed away in the month of May of the same year.
Petitioner submitted that thereafter, whenever she visited the Post Office to enquire about her MIS account, she did not receive any helpful responses or information about the current status of her account, after which she was abruptly informed that her MIS account had already been withdrawn in cash.
Petitioner’s counsel argued that she had written a letter for redressal of her grievance in 2009 to the Superintendent of the South Hooghly Division as well as the Chief Postmaster General, highlighting her concerns and requesting for her matured amount along with bonus, without any response.
Petitioner’s counsel argued that further representations to the Chief Postmaster General also went unanswered, and that the post office itself was barred from making cash repayments in cases where the sum to be paid exceeded Rs. 20,000.
Petitioner argued that the constant ignorance and negligence of the authorities had resulted in her arbitrarily being deprived of her savings, with no recourse.
Respondent-authorities argued that in light of the withdrawal slip signed by the petitioner in 2008, it was assumed that she had withdrawn the maturity amount, and that a claim for non-receipt more than a year after signing the withdrawal slip would not be tenable.
Respondents conceded that while Section 269T of the Income Tax Act did not envisage the withdrawal of money from an MIS Scheme in the form of cash, the same had occurred due to ‘procedural lapse’ caused by the alleged negligence of a Postal Assistant, who had been punished accordingly.
In refusing to accept the Respondents’ submission that the non-payment of matured amount to the petitioner was merely a procedural lapse, the Court reiterated on its decision passed in the case of Sulekha Chatterjee (supra) and held that the petitioner would be entitled to receive the amount as claimed by her, in addition to interest from the date of maturity of her MIS account.
Accordingly, the Chief Postmaster General was directed to clear the petitioner’s dues in addition to the payment of 6% interest per annum from the date of maturity.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 289
Case: Mrs. Polin Mukherjee V Union Of India & Ors.
Case No: WPA 4861 of 2011
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