NCDRC Orders Postal Dept. To Pay Rs 24.8 Lakh To Brothers Who Lost Saving Scheme Certificates
Commission says the Department should at least pay the maturity value after having not succeeded in the several rounds of litigation
Reiterating from its 2002 judgment that in a sovereign democratic and transparent society, the postal department cannot say that an investor in Indira Vikas Patra (IVP) forfeits the right to get the money back just because he loses the receipt or is stolen away from him, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has directed the Superintendent of Post Offices, Bolangir Division in Odisha, to pay Rs 24.8 lakh to two brothers whose claim for maturity amount was rejected because of loss of IVP receipts.
A bench presided by Anup K Thakur and member C Viswanath directed the department, having failed in several rounds of litigation, to pay Rs 16 lakh to Chhagan Lal Jain and Rs 8.80 lakh to his brother Jambu Kumar Jain.
In the instant case, Rama Chandra Jain, the father of Jambu Kumar Jain and Chhagan Lal Jain had purchased 692 IVPs in their names and that of their sisters etc., from Head Post Office, Bolangir.
He lost receipts of all the 692 IVPs and reported the same to Tusura Police Station on 25.06.2001. The OIC Tusura Police Station further intimated the fact to Superintendent of Post Office, Bolangir, on 14.07.2001 requesting the postal department to stay payment of maturity values of the lost IVPs without proper verification.
Of the 692 IVPs, 160 IVPs were in the name of Chhagan Lal Jain whose maturity amount was Rs 16,00,000 while 88 were in the name of Jambu Kumar Jain which at maturity came to Rs 8,80,000.
When they raised a demand towards maturity value of the IVPs in their names, the postal department rejected the claim vide letter dated 11.04.2002, on the ground of IVP Rule 7(2) 1986 and IVP Rule 10 of 1986 pertaining to non-replacement of lost certificates and the Post Office not being responsible for any loss caused to a holder by any person obtaining possession of a certificate and fraudulently encashing it.
While dismissing the revision petition filed by the Superintendent of Post Offices, Bolangir Division and upholding the order of the District Forum in favour of the Jain brothers, the NCDRC said, “The Respondent’s Father had purchased 88 IVPs for a total amount of Rs. 8.8 lakhs. The same were lost and a Police Complaint was filed. The claim of the Respondent on maturity was rejected. Several years have elapsed and the amount deposited still lies with the Postal Department. So far there appears no other claimant for the amount. It certainly cannot be the case of the Petitioner to appropriate the entire amount forever, since the lost documents has not been submitted to them. It is but fair and reasonable that after proper verification and taking due precautions like indemnity bond etc., the Department after securing its interests, should atleast pay the maturity value to the Respondent, after having not succeeded in the several rounds of litigation.
“This Commission way back in the year 2002, in a matter of similar nature has elaborately discussed the issues and directed the department to release the money, as sufficient time had elapsed since the date of maturity. Therefore, it clearly appears that there is no error in the order passed by the District Forum”.
It is to be noted that in the 2002 judgment in case titled Ram Nath Mathuria Vs. Union of India, the NCDRC had held, “What we are unable to agree is a “blanket wall” approach. In a sovereign democratic and transparent society, it cannot be the case of the respondent that the Investor in IVP forfeit the right to get the money back just because he loses the receipt or is stolen away from him. It could not have been the case of the respondent that the money now vests with them. It is not their case either, otherwise why would they keep the IVPs in safe custody. In our opinion a more pragmatic and dynamic view is required to be taken in such cases. Deficiency in services is perceived from the date in December, 1986 when the complainant reported loss of the receipt of IVPs. He should have been advised by the authorities as to what to do. To tell him “nothing can be done” is rendering no service by a public body, in this case the Government itself. On maturity, money is not given, instead IVPs are kept in safe custody. For how long? There are no instructions. This itself is a deficiency. ”
In the instant case, the district forum had on a complaint filed by Jains passed an order dated 30.03.2016 directing the post office to release payment of the maturity value of 160 IVPs amounting to Rs 16,00,000 to the respondent, after furnishing an indemnity bond within 35 days of the order.
It has also ordered that non-compliance of the said order would lead to a penalty of Rs 20 per day till realization. The forum had also relied on Ram Nath Mathuria vs. Union of India, wherein it was held that in the absence of any other claim on the basis of the original IVPs, maturity value should be released in favour of the claimants after taking an indemnity bond to secure interest of the department.
The department challenged this order before the state commission which dismissed the appeal for non-prosecution. It then moved the High Court of Orissa where the plea was dismissed as withdrawn.
The department once again moved the state commission. This time by way of a miscellaneous case which was also dismissed as not pressed. Finally, the instant revision petition was filed before NCDRC which also came to be dismissed.