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'A Clear Case Of Injustice': Kerala High Court Directs Post-Office To Disburse Domestic Help's Deposit With Full Interest, Imposes 5K Cost

Hannah M Varghese
24 March 2022 5:18 AM GMT
A Clear Case Of Injustice: Kerala High Court Directs Post-Office To Disburse Domestic Helps Deposit With Full Interest, Imposes 5K Cost
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The Court said it cannot be a silent spectator in such situations.

"Saving money by a poor man or woman is not to buy a BMW car or to purchase a palatial building or for a luxurious life. (It) is for fulfilling his/her small dreams," said the Kerala High Court on Monday while directing the post-office authorities to disburse the amount deposited by a domestic help under the time deposit scheme with full interest till the date of withdrawal within...


"Saving money by a poor man or woman is not to buy a BMW car or to purchase a palatial building or for a luxurious life. (It) is for fulfilling his/her small dreams," said the Kerala High Court on Monday while directing the post-office authorities to disburse the amount deposited by a domestic help under the time deposit scheme with full interest till the date of withdrawal within a month.

Finding it to be a case of injustice, Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan also imposed a cost of Rs. 5000 on the authorities as litigation cost while adding that the constitutional court cannot be a silent spectator in such situations.

"In such situation, the denial of interest to the petitioner, according to me, is not only unconscionable, but it is a clear case of injustice."

An illiterate poor domestic helper deposited Rs.20,000/- in a 2-year post office time deposit scheme in 2012. Since she did not know that upon maturity, the deposit was to be renewed, the petitioner had not renewed it upon maturity, which was in 2014. 

Her understanding was that the interest will accrue every year, so she waited till 2021 to withdraw the amount with interest. However, when she approached the authorities in 2021, they rejected her request for full interest till the disbursal of the amount claimed since the deposit was not renewed. 

Aggrieved by this, she forwarded a representation to the Postmaster which was also rejected.

Through a subsequent legal notice, she argued that in Post Office Time Deposit (Amendment) Rules, 2014, the Central Government had made certain amendments by which the petitioner is entitled to full interest until the withdrawal of the amount.

However, the respondents did not entertain this either. Accordingly, she moved the High Court through Advocate Ajit Joy

The Counsel argued that the amended Rules came into existence in 2014, just before the maturity date of the petitioner's deposit. On this ground, it was argued that she is entitled to interest as of today even if the deposit was not renewed periodically.

However, the respondents contended that the amended rule was applicable to the post offices working on the Core Banking Solution (CBS) platform and that the one where she had deposited the amount had not migrated to the platform.

Justice N. Nagaresh who admitted the matter and Justice Kunhikrishnan who heard it were deeply sympathetic, proactive and appalled that the State took a stance of rigid adherence to rules in this case.

The Court rejected the respondent's argument that the concerned Post Office had migrated to the CBS platform only in 2015 and hence the POSB Manual Volume-I Rules are applicable in the petitioner's case.

"I cannot agree with the same. Simply because Muttada Post Office had not migrated to the Core Banking Solution Platform, the petitioner cannot deny the benefit of Ext.P7 amended Rules."

Justice Kunhikrishnan added that the migration to the Platform was something connected to the internal infrastructure of the Post Offices. A poor depositor need not suffer because of the same, the Court said. 

As such, the Court found this to be a clear case of discrimination and infringement of the fundamental right of the petitioner under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

"Therefore, according to me, the petitioner in this case is entitled interest amount on the deposit made by her from the date of renewal till it is disbursed at the rate available for 2-year time deposit."

The Single Bench while allowing the petition also held that the petitioner was entitled to an amount of Rs. 5,000 as cost. 


Case Title: Saroja v. Postmaster & Ors. 

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 141

Click Here To Read/Download The Order 

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